In preparation for my travels away from the magical land of Long Island and back to New Paltz this past weekend, I was faced with the responsibility of picking just the right music for my three-hour bus ride. Although finding such a melody for an extensive trip may take some shuffling through tracks, listening for a few seconds and then doing the whole “no, no, no” thing to yourself, it was quite clear to me what music I was going to devote this time to.
On July 7, 2014, an album that would be the first in 20 years to be released and the last ever by Pink Floyd was announced to be bestowed upon the public in November. The album was to be a follow up to their last full length, 1994’s “The Division Bell,” which was a series of studio sessions where David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason played freely together. Expected to be mostly instrumental and full of the cosmic ambience Pink Floyd has been known to exude, fans were enthralled to hear the news and anxious to hear what was in store.
And it was most certainly worth the wait.
Boarding the bus from Mineola onward to New Paltz, I brought with me a fully charged iPod, bulky headphones, coffee and my favorite type of brownies. Confident that Pink Floyd would carry me effortlessly through this lovely bus ride, I got myself comfortable in a seat fit for two, and suited up (put on my headphones) for the impending journey. After stretching out a bit, listening to various songs from “Animals,” “The Wall” and of course “Dark Side of The Moon” for the first hour of the bus ride as a warm up, I decided it was time to begin “Endless River,” Pink Floyd’s acclaimed final album.
Allow me to describe this album as a 65-minute beautiful, beautiful comma splice. Tracks flowed from one to the other fluidly, with only two or three tracks functioning as ending statements. Even better, there are many of those “flows from one earbud to the other earbud” moments. It takes concentration and “the right state of mind” to listen to this album at first in order to really understand what’s going on within these complex instrumentals. Only the very last track, “Louder Than Words,” contains lyrics, in addition to Stephen Hawking featured on the track “Talkin’ Hawkin’,” offering some words of encouragement to mankind.
The first song, “Things Left Unsaid,” starts out with a few lines:
“We certainly are under spoken and understanding, but there’s a lot of things unsaid as well / we should and argue and fight, and work it on out.”
Then there is a sort of “boom” that happens, and the album begins.
The album follows a sort of cyclic pattern, with an extraordinary arrangement of drums and powerful guitar, then a dissipation into smooth, placid ambient sounds, only to follow back into zealous power plays, and then to repeat this pattern until the very end. The track “It’s What We Do” is reminiscent of a certain past Pink Floyd song, from which I had to refrain from emitting a “yaaaaaaaaaaas” on the bus. I won’t reveal what song it is in order to avoid spoiling it for anyone. There is an earthy vibe to the album, though there are moments throughout with certain noises and sounds that are reminiscent of floating through a deep, empty space.
As I floated deeply through space, the passengers of the 3:40 p.m. Trailways bus and I were well on our way to New Paltz, out of Long Island. The emergence of the mountains as we headed further up north, the sunset and the quiet of the bus created an all too perfect scenario for maintaining full concentration on what was being poured into my ear drums. If you could get on a bus for the sole purpose of listening to this album, I strongly recommend it.
As a final farewell to the creation of new music, Pink Floyd really made their statement clear with very few words. Take some time to listen to “Endless River” with an open mind. It gives a true closure to their genius, something not all bands are able to achieve. And for those of you who fret that there will be no more new music from the group, don’t worry, because as they promised, we will see them on the dark side of the moon.