Sound — 10
There is little in this world that compares to the feelings of trepidation and tranquility aroused by a musical composition. Experiencing the awe-inspiring sound of any master composer causes it to flood through your very soul, fleeting in and out of your consciousness, demanding attention, and slowly allowing you to lose yourself in the complex patterns of rhythm-filled sound. What an amazing art, indeed! One of the most truly amazing opuses, Dark Side of the Moon, was composed by Pink Floyd and was originally released on March 24 of 1973, a wonderful year to be alive. The hazy landscapes expressed therein are the perfect setting for perceiving the mundane details littered throughout life. With ten glistening movements including an overture, an elegy, and psychedelic and neo-baroque styles ending with a superlative finale, Dark Side of the Moon is quick to become a favorite of all music lovers.
The album cover accompanying the vinyl is truly a manifestation of creative ability. The design is marvelously simplistic. Light coming into the prism from the left and being refracted into a beautiful rainbow on a completely black surface fits the moods expressed throughout the work so remarkably. Color is a part of everything, whether it be gorgeous or revolting, and the prism represents how light from the sun is a combination of every radiant color. The rainbow of colors on the black surface show spectacular antithesis and make the album cover truly a wonder to behold.
The Overture is a unique song and sets the mood for the rest of the piece so brilliantly. It begins with complete silence and slowly the percussion of a beating heart fades into the spotlight. The sounds of ticking clocks are added eloquently to the ensemble, followed by the clinking of change and the sounds of a cash register. Crazed laughter and voices can be heard off in the distance followed by the vocal talents of Clare Torry. All of the madness of sound crescendos to a large fortissimo, and is utterly swept away leading into the first peaceful chord of Breathe.
The first chord of the second movement now has your mind floating through the clouds. Drifting easily along flowing through the mellow intro is an organ, accompanied amazingly by a peaceful bass line and the steely sound of an open-tuned stratocaster. Yet the most amazing feelings are whispered into your ears by the slide guitar. The mellow melodic voice of David Gilmour accompanies the tones expressed throughout the piece extremely well. The poetic lyrics written by Roger Waters seem to coincide effortlessly with the song and give the listener an overview of all that life is. The song starts with birth, Breathe, breathe in the air and streams through the smiles, tears, laughter, and work of life ending with Race towards an early grave, truly a graceful work of lyrical genius.
The last word of the second movement seems to lead quite stunningly into the third, moving from a feeling of peaceful euphoria into one of grave stress and tension. The name of the movement seems to hint at this fact being that it's On the Run. You are in essence now racing toward that early grave. This song seems to capture the anxiety of everyday life so well. It begins with a low buzz and a percussive strumming on a high hat. The buzz fades and is replaced by a synthesized repetition of a stunningly fast eight-note sequence. Footsteps fade in and out of the ensemble of noise as does several different humming, buzzing, and whirring noises. Yet again the noise builds up for the closing moments of the movement. This time the ending sound creates an illusion of an airplane crashing into the ground followed by the peaceful billowing of thunder.
The ticking of clocks in the distance joins into the peaceful billowing of thunder, and it's easy to slip out of reality after being so mercilessly bombarded with percussive sound. As your mind begins to wander and you begin drifting off, another barrage of sound hits you as masses of clocks all chime in at the same time, ripping you from the peaceful state you had just come to feel. The third movement, titled Time has begun. As this decrescendos, a steady tick-tock of rototoms and an added heartbeat fills the sonic landscape. The deep buzzing sound of a bass guitar blends in nicely which is then contrasted by the high chiming of a farfisa organ. The contrast between the buzzing bass and the high chimes creates an extremely eerie atmosphere for the listener. A drum roll leads off the lyrics, yet again written by Waters, which convey a message of lost time, and the frittering away of life.
The fourth movement starts with a very serene piano melody accompanied by a melodious slide guitar. This movement is called The Great Gig in the Sky. A voice stating, Why should I be frightened of death? enters this wonderfully expressive elegy. The peaceful harmonious track is coupled with the belting voice of Clare Torry. It's presenting the emotions of Pink Floyd toward the occurrence of death beyond a shadow of a doubt. The creation of a peaceful, captivating landscape, through beautiful chord and rhythm shows how death being the end of life, leads one into a state of inner peace.
Money is the next movement of the opus. It begins with the change and cash register noises that could be heard in the overture, to the background of silence. The most memorable bass lick of all time jazzes up the mix, and is accompanied by great rhythm guitar chords, which are put in at exactly the right times. The lyrics gravitate towards explaining money being the root of all evil, and how capitalism is disgusting. The improvisation of the screaming saxophone and whining guitar are some of the best solos in the entire album.
The following movement entitled, Us and Them deals with the conflicts of life. The song begins with intense dissonance, which slowly blends tones coming into a chord followed by a delicate guitar riff. The bass accompanies it and the tones from everything blend together creating another sinuous bit of background music. This sets the perfect aura for the subsequent saxophone solo. The fluid sounds of the saxophone stream through your consciousness easily relaxing even the most discriminating of listeners. The conflicts expressed throughout the wonderful poetry of Waters go through the feelings of being a pawn in a war, to segregation, and finally end with the occurrence of passing a tramp in the street and not helping.
The reverberations of the Uni-Vibe guitar rush over you. Coaxing you onward at first, but then flowing through your being. Any Colour You Like is by far the most extravagant, musically, of all the movements in the opus. This is where the themes of psychedelia and the neo-baroque style take hold. Each separate element would stand alone amazingly, but when put over each other, it makes such a complex sound that listening to each particular element becomes impossible. It's then necessary to focus on the overall feelings of amazement and carefree-bliss generated by this instrumental track. The tape effects are far ahead of their time, playing with the ears of the listener by switching staccato notes between the right, left, mid-right, mid-left, and center speakers. The sonic textures paint the dream world so well, that when you close your eyes and dream, your mind is filled with any and every color you like.
The next movement, entitled Brain Damage deals with the topic of mental instability. The guitar and high hat give this song structure, and despite being about going insane, it's a very ordered song indeed. The parallelism of describing the placement of the lunatic throughout the song is wonderful, and when the lyrics become The lunatic is in my head the song has taken a most interesting twist indeed.
The finale entitled Eclipse is the spectacular resolution of this truly breathtaking opus. It is a very thunderous and powerful piece, as a finale should be. The lyrics are one long sentence, the subject being everything that there is in life. It ends with the climactic phrase and everything under the sun is tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon. After this you can hear the heartbeat from the overture slowly fade out followed by dead silence.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are just excellent.
Overall Impression — 10
Dark Side of the Moon is a work of art. The sounds expressed by it seem to flow naturally and ordered yet complex and so interestingly that you'll listen to it over and over, yet never honestly catch every last detail in the work. This splendid piece is oozing with details about living your life. Peace, stress, time, death, money, conflict, beauty, and insanity are moods put into such graceful music through this wonderful work. Every statement, sound, and tone was chosen so eloquently to display the feelings of living. If you've ever lived, cherished, or been lost in your mind then you will be able to relate your life experiences to this superior masterpiece. And in closing I'd just like to say, There is no dark side of the moon, as a matter of fact it's all dark.