Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Pink Floyd—
More


Released 1969 on Columbia
The Seth Man, June 2000ce
(Note on the film “More”: I could make many, many references as to how the tracks on this soundtrack album relate to the various scenes they are used in, but for the sake of keeping the film an experience uncluttered by pre-related comments and expectations to those of you who have not experienced the sheer objective intensity of this film, all that’s left to say is: “More” is up there, and OUT there. And it’s recently been re-released and digitally remastered, after a brief period of unavailability. And the lead actress, Mimsy Farmer, is a true goddess who transforms mentally and physically throughout the whole film, and…oh, don’t get me started…)


I understand why people hate Pink Floyd -- believe me, I know. They’ve released albums I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire (“The Wall”, “Final Cut”, etc, etc) and albums that defy every convention of their time (“Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” only one of them). But their third album, “More” seems to constantly get lost in the shuffle between “Saucerful Of Secrets” and “Ummagumma.” It never was deleted and it’s been available on CD for years now, so what gives?

“More” was much more than anybody had a right to expect from The Floyd at the time: they wrote, recorded and produced this first Pink Floyd album devoid entirely of Syd Barrett material, the mantle of lead songwriter now taken up by bassist/vocalist Roger Waters. And he contributed enough lyrics that helped to make “More” a completely balanced album as quixotic as the cover. It is ironic that only when an outside force provided the blueprint did this architecturally-inclined band achieved major vibes. The outside force, French film director Barbet Schroeder, commissioned them to complete a soundtrack score for his debut film, “More.” And despite--or possibly, because--they never saw even so much as a rough cut of the film beforehand, they delivered a completed album in a mere eight days time. Three months before the album’s release, The Floyd had premiered “The Massed Gadgets of Auximenes” at The Royal Festival, performing two extended segued pieces via their famed Azimuth Co-ordinator: “The Man” and “The Journey.” These two extended suites would provide them with a wealth of material they would incorporate on later albums, and for “More” two Waters-penned songs were extracted: “Green Is The Colour” and “Cymbaline,” both of which appear on the Waters compo-heavy side one. Beginning with the luxuriously idyllic “Cirrus Minor” and crowned throughout with BBC songbirds and gentle organ swells, the album begins with aural imagings of peaceful havens, Wright’s reverbed organ tinkling dangles off into a relaxed bliss as the fade of birdsong disappears. But where was once total calm is now shattered by the entrance of “The Nile Song.” It barges down the door in a BIG way, courtesy of Gilmour’s Stratocaster distorto-sawtoothing as it carves through a truly unruly raveup heavy as hell and not a trace of Rick Wright to found. Nick Mason’s tom-tom and crash cymbal assault continues unabated for the duration of this proto-metallicking moment, one of Pink Floyd’s rare moments of heavy abandon. And whether they were strapped for further material, or they just plain loved it, they re-recorded “The Nile Song” with different lyrics on side two as “Ibiza Bar”, this time with Wright filling in the rare quiet patch during the chorus (There was even a French picture sleeve single issued of “The Nile Song”/”Ibiza Bar”, and needless to say, a real fucker of a treasure). Anytime someone tries to dismiss or diss post-Syd, pre-“Dark Side” Floyd, just look them in the eye and say, ‘The Nile Song.’ They WILL scratch their head and look perplexed (Or “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” from the “Zabriskie Point” soundtrack, for that matter...but I digress.)

Once the ear-ringing qualities of “The Nile Song” have subsided, gentle fade-in vibraphones gather over quiet snare taps, beginning Waters’ short and melancholy “Crying Song”. It’s a barely vertical cry for help to “help me roll away this stone,” ending on gently slid guitar lines. But this is a soundtrack album, so the songs except for two are on the shorter side and it has already faded into the drumming palindrome of “Up The Khyber” with discordant piano stabs as studio reverb is added by Waters from the studio booth. The separation between the drums and eerie, Rick Wright organ colourations start to tilt-o-whirl pan from speaker to speaker in a freaky build. It all ends up with the tape speeding up into the fade. “Green Is The Colour” is a sunny, optimistic piece, a relative of “Grantchester Meadows” with an early Gilmour vocal and Nick Mason’s wife, Lindy, on Ibizan flute melodies. By contrast, “Cymbaline” (originally entitled “Nightmare”) is transmitted from behind the wall of somnolence, furthered by Wright’s electro-vibing organ eddying over lazy congas, the only percussion present. Side one ends with the minute-long conga beat-out, “Party Sequence.” Although credited to The Floyd, I believe it to be the by-product of a trio of Ibizan conga players, with further Ibizan flute overdubbed later.

Side two is altogether different. Except for the second track (the previously discussed “Ibiza Bar”) it is entirely instrumental. Just as side one showcased Roger Waters’ songwriting, this side exhibits the musical aspects of 1969 Pink Floyd to even greater extremes. The generically titled “Main Theme,” used in the film’s stunning opening credits of refracted sunlight, is a mid-tempo ride cymbal and drum network with dreamy guitar glissando and Wright’s skeletal organ, Waters content for the moment to simmer on his huge gong. The over-reverbed B.B. King send-up of “More Blues” sets up what is the veritable heart of side two: “Quicksilver.” Opening with a short, tape speed manipulation emulating the sound of vomiting, the passage clears for the remaining seven minutes of the most deeply chilled-out music Pink Floyd ever committed to vinyl. Organ passages appear, gain ground and fall away as Nick Mason’s perfectly understated vibraphone playing conjures up a psychedelic trance out that (stick with me on this, will you?) as far as my ears, eyes, and brain can tell, provided none other than Ash Ra Tempel with a template for the astounding title track of “Schwingungen” (Just check out the back cover of “More.” Now look at the cover art of “Schwingungen.” Got it?). And it’s every bit as soothing, mysterious and ethereal. “Quicksilver”, man -- The Floyd never got this close again (except for the “Zabriskie Point” outtake “Oenone.”)

The film holds yet another version of “Quicksilver”, although used in passing during another scene I can’t mention. Alternative versions of many songs within this LP fill the film, along with “Hollywood” and “Seabirds,” two tracks that have never been issued. “Dramatic Theme” is a slow and hazy psychedelic blues version of “Main Theme,” all hallucinatory use of echo on EVERYTHING that builds until just the guitar is left, echoing left right and center until it vanishes forever into waves of its own making. Suitable for spinning over and over for years.