Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Meddle (1971)

     In 1970, Pink Floyd solidified their style into two main approaches: cinematic suites with very evocative sonic collages and shorter, more "rustic" songs with a sense of wryness or melancholy.  The albums "Atom Heart Mother" and "Meddle" display these two tendencies very clearly.

Atom Heart Mother
     This record featured Pink Floyd's first true "magnum opus", the title track "Atom Heart Mother".  The Wikipedia entry provides excellent background on it's genesis, but the most interesting thing to me is that this piece involves the blending of choir and orchestra to the band's more "jammy" style.
  • Roger Waters – bass guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals on "If", tape effects, tape collages
  • David Gilmour – guitars, vocals, bass and drums on "Fat Old Sun"
  • Rick Wright – keyboards, vocals on "Summer '68"
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion, engineering on "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast"
Additional musicians (for "Atom Heart Mother"):
  • EMI Pops Orchestra (brass and orchestral sections co-composed by Ron Geeson and conducted by John Alldis)
  • Haflidi Hallgrimsson on cello
  • John Alldis Choir 
  • (Alan Styles – voice and sound effects on "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast")

Atom Heart Mother
1 Atom Heart Mother Suite 23:41 0:00: I. Father's Shout: Low organ drones, joined by layers of brass fanfares coming together.
1:24: Main theme and groove with melody in brass, then a collage interlude of galloping, guns, brass fragments, then back to theme.
2:51: II. Breast Milky: Theme starts in bass and organ, string solo lead, drums accents enter as organ develops.
3:56: Slide guitar solo, joined by brass layers, then piano.
5:22: III. Mother Fore: Relaxed organ vamp supports a soprano vocal adlib, joined by additional vocal soloists, developed, eventually becoming dissonant, drums re-enter as vocal accents become more pronounced, ending on held chord.
10:11: IV. Funky Dung: Organ chords lead into somewhat-funky slow jam, soon joined by guitar solo ornamented with organ stabs.
12:21: Synth drone enters leading to modulation and guitar fade out, groove becomes more accented as rhythmic, percussive female vocal chants enter, electric piano ornaments.
14:29: Harmony and choir cadence joined by brass.
14:56: Brass main theme from I. returns.
15:28: V. Mind Your Throats Please: Dissonant organ rhythm joined by eerie drones, howling noises, dissonant swells, backwards tape (?), distant plucked tones, voices, eventually leading to sparse organ and synth ornaments.
18:01: Fade in of various rhythmic fragments from before (collaged).
19:11: Brass main theme with rhythm section, leading to reprise of II (organ/bass w string solo).
20:45: Relaxed slide guitar solo.
21:14: VI. Remergence: Second electric guitar joins for melody, brass ornaments added, slides become more textural.
22:11: Choir and brass theme (reprise of III choir elements combined with brass theme), ending in held cadence.
2 If 4:31 Vocals: Roger
0:00: Finger-picked acoustic guitar with gentle vocals, bass enters on 2nd verse, joined by subtle sound effects.
1:24: Slide guitar solo and organ enter under lively bass, joined by piano as 3rd verse resumes, hihat in 4th verse.
3:16: Slide guitar returns with added piano accompaniment, 5th verse.
3 Summer '68 5:29 Vocals: Rick
0:00: Piano rhythm leads to playful ballad, supported by bass/hihat/organ harmonies.
1:12: Acoustic guitar-driven chorus with layered harmony vocal adlibs, joined by brass ornaments.
2:12: Verse resumes with more rhythmic energy (drums/piano), chorus, etc.
3:29: Brass layers dominate cadence, leading to bridge with acoustic guitar and piano under vocals, harmony adlibs, return to brass cadence.
4 Fat Old Sun 5:24 Vocals: David
0:00: Distant church bells, strummed guitar and relaxed vocals with distant slide guitar harmonies, joined by organ harmonies, restrained sustained harmonies in chorus, drums enter, etc.
3:20: Distorted electric guitar lead based on vocal melody, bass becomes more lively, church bells.
5 Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast 12:59 0:00: I. Rise and Shine: Concrete recordings, layered and echoed "thought" dialogue.
1:01: Rhythm section accents enter under match sounds, piano/hihat, electric guitar lead joins, followed by organ lead, guitar fades out.
3:18: Held organ chords with kettle whistling, dialogue and concrete sounds, distant radio.
4:30: II. Sunny Side Up: Acoustic guitars rhythm/lead as noisey breakfast proceeds, joined by slide guitar textures/lead, ending in crackling cooking sounds/dialogue.
8:18: III. Morning Glory: Chord accents in slow harmony joined by 2-piano melody with organ/bass/drums, modulating, distant electric guitar joins with scattered dialogue fragments, ending in final kitchen sounds/dialogue.

Atom Heart Mother Wiki





Meddle
     "Meddle" saw Pink Floyd perfect the compositional tendencies first developed in "Atom Heart Mother" and pretty much draws to a close the "early" period of Pink Floyd.  The epic "Echoes" somewhat sums up everything the band had become capable of in a singe LP-side-long track, going from one extreme (pastoral harmony) to another (ambient sound design).


Meddle
1 One of These Days 5:55 0:00: Wind, echoed bass accents (on 2 basses) becoming a pulse, joined by synth stabs and reversed cymbals and metals.
2:05: Slide guitar enters with brief bass drum fanfare.
2:47: Echoed bass fragments in fast, chopped rhythm with synth stabs, sirens, backwards guitar noises, bass drum fanfares.
3:36: "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces..." (Nick, processed).
3:42: Main bass-drive groove resumes with full drums and slide guitar solo, organ and piano accents.
4:50: 2nd slide guitar joins, ending in winds, segue into...
2 A Pillow of Winds 5:13 Vocals: David
0:00: Rustic acoustic guitars, pedal steel guitar and fretless bass, with soft harmony vocals, joined by subtle, held organ chords.
2:12: Modulating instrumental bridge, joined by hihat drums.
3:00: Back to main theme, vocals resume, followed by instrumental fade out.
3 Fearless 6:08 Vocals: David
0:00: Big guitar chords with ascending ornamental riffs, country rock cadences and soft vocals.
1:17: Relaxed groove with swelled slide guitars.
1:50: Main ascending guitar riff resumes, choir intermittently surfaces, groove relaxes briefly before returning to country rock cadences.
3:21: Relaxed groove, this time with more piano, ascending riff resumes and develops, cross-fades with choir ("You'll Never Walk Alone" by a Liverpool stadium crowd).
4 San Tropez 3:43 Vocals: Roger
0:00: Lively mid-tempo groove with jazz rhythm section, acoustic guitar and piano, somewhat retro-lounge feel.
1:15: Slide guitar solos.
1:46: Verse resumes.
2:24: Piano solo, fade out.
5 Seamus 2:15 Vocals: David
0:00: "Front porch" acoustic guitar blues with dog barking/howling, piano ornaments, harmonica.
0:47: Piano solo with accented guitar rhythms, etc.
6 Echoes 23:32 Vocals: Rick, David
0:00: Echoing "pings" joined by low piano chords, organ ornaments and swells, building with distant slide guitar.
1:09: Electric guitar solo enters with 2nd organ, bass.
1:54: Drums enter and signal cadence, guitar solo continues over verse section.
2:42: Cadence, then 1st harmony vocal verse over shuffling groove.
3:44: Winding guitar-driven cadence.
4:12: 2nd vocal verse, drum ornaments.
4:56: 2nd Winding guitar cadence.
5:24: Guitar solos over verse chords, winding cadence repeated with slide guitar solo.
7:02: More open rhythm vamp with organ solos/accents and guitar solo, solo gradually becomes more howling (abstract), extra guitar layers.
10:38: Groove crossfades into ambient sound design: howling drones with layered siren/bird calls (reverse-wired wah-wah guitar).
13:18: Echoed pulses enter as bird/rook calls become more dense.
14:35: Crossfade into organ drone harmony, joined by echoed pings from opening and low organ chords, cymbals.
16:05: Muffled electric guitar rhythm enters, more low organ chords.
17:05: High organ solo line begins, joined by tom-tom accents.
18:14: Ostinato figure in stereo guitars with low sliding chords, then back to muffled groove with heavy guitar slides.
19:12: Verse resumes as before.
19:56: Cadence, repeated.
21:18: Open verse rhythm with light organ and guitar interplay lines, eventually replaced by rising noise harmony, pings.

Meddle Wiki

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