Thursday, July 30, 2015
THE FINAL CUT
When we came back from the war, the banners and flags hung on everyones door
Compelling and occasionally frightening, this short song cycle is a Pink Floyd project in name only. Gilmour and Mason have limited involvement, while Richard Wright had been dismissed from the band. To emphasize the point, the back cover is emblazoned with "The Final Cut: A Requiem for the Post-War Dream - by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd"
Quiet, dark undercurrents lurk at every turn on this musically ambitious soundtrack for a rainy day. Mixing his contempt for the Falklands campaign and the politics of Margaret Thatcher, Waters also brings obsessions with loss and death into the program, carrying on with themes that had run through his writing for quite some time. Imaginative as it is morose, the disc is further boosted by ingenious sound design, interspersed with recordings of various effects courtesy of Nick Mason.
Michael Kamen handles most of the keyboards and arranged the orchestration, with "The Gunner's Dream" and "The Final Cut" sounding epic and lush. The adornments on the latter flirt with the exact arrangements found on "Comfortably Numb". One key element missing here is the vocal contribution of Gilmour, who takes only one lead. His guitar is noticably muted throughout, save for a few exceptions.
"Two Suns in the Sunset" is my personal favourite from this phenomenal set, although that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the rest.
Unfairly ranked as inferior when compared to other Floyd releases, it is nothing of the sort. Waters writing is mature and the concept is far more song oriented than past projects. There are no instrumental excursions into the outer limits to distract the listener from the overall point that is being made. Here is where the principal band members stood against one another, with Gilmour openly expressing his disapproval of the critical nature of the lyrics. Group infighting wasn't new, nor was it restricted to this period. Differences that were once worked out,however,became irreconcilable and Waters would never again enter the studio with the others.
Despite the dark clouds that hovered above it, this is their last great release and criminally underrated, at that.
Many memories associated with this record, having picked it up in the spring of 1983 after hearing "Not Now John" on the radio. My initial evaluation then was one of slight disappointment, though that changed over time. Becoming engrossed in the subject matter, I embraced the songs as they were presented as opposed to how I would have liked them to sound. Curiously, the aforementioned taster single now sticks out as a poor fit when measured against the other tracks. This is a disc that promotes a mood of contemplation, so it is best taken in its entirety. This is a tall order for those who have forgotten the grand design behind making an album, rather than two minute soundbites that can be skipped over or discarded quickly.