Tag Archives: Pink Floyd

David Gilmour: Rattle That Lock

28 Dec

Note: This review is a “media blackout” first look at Gilmour’s solo work, hence it may well be an incomplete collection of obvious statements.

rattle that lock_smallA lot of guitarists are all about flair and flames and showing off their hottest tricks. Not David Gilmour. Despite being a guitarist of mythic proportions, Gilmour’s leadwork is all about sentiment and storytelling, which he rouses and relays through the emotive and intriguing melodies carried across in his signature tone.

While the cinematic, orchestral instrumentation and tender, mournful guitar solos permeating Rattle That Lock could well have been plucked from a Pink Floyd album (circa Dark Side of the Moon, however much I hate to make the typical reference), this is a much purer taste of what Gilmour brought to the band.

The long, plaintive, and beautifully-backdropped leadwork of opening track “5 A.M.” perfectly encapsulates this, as do the lone elegy that is “A Boat Lies Waiting”, the varied instrumental wilderness “Beauty”, and “And Then…”, an echo of “5 A.M.” which picks up pieces of its melody to symmetrically close the album.

Yet title track “Rattle That Lock” and other tracks such as “Faces of Stone” and “Dancing Right In Front of Me” present a jarringly different, squarely structured format that feels blunt when contrasted with the delicate instrumental progressions beginning, ending, and recurring throughout this album – however rallying and relevant the rattle that lock / loose those chains refrain is, much like The Wall (Pink Floyd, 1979) was (and continues to be).

While this variation in sound is impressive, to me it feels discordant rather than diverse.

Rattle That Lock makes for stirring and captivating music when tracks are hand-picked to my liking, and I am interested to see if other Gilmour fans feel the same.


British Sea Power: From the Sea to the Land Beyond

8 Dec

You listen to From the Sea to the Land Beyond for the reason you listen to any soundtrack: because the film was the most amazing thing you have ever seen, and you want to re-live it in your heart and your mind’s eye.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond

The 2012 BBC Documentary From the Sea to the Land Beyond, directed by Penny Woolcock and compiled from over 100 years of footage from the British Film Institute, is a celebration of the British coastline and the role played by the Sea in the development of Britain. The film traces both world wars and continues through the increasing industrialization of Britain, eventually meditating on the Sea in contemporary Britain, simultaneously as a symbol of humanity’s mammoth industrial achievements over the 20th century, and as a beautiful, timeless being who, although she has seen us through so much, looks after so many more creatures than just humans. It is now of devastating urgency that we do all we can to prevent harming the Sea more than we already have.

This already poignant collection of footage is condensed into tears by the ingenious musical sensitivity of British Sea Power: the Brighton-based British band whose music quietly encapsulates all the tempests and lullabies of the Great Blue Yonder. It is incredible that a mere combination of images and music – with no dialogue or narration and, indeed, very few lyrics – can be so simultaneously historical, anthropological, emotional and poetic. And yet this it is.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond displays British Sea Power’s talent and insight to a new extent. The band has interwoven sound effects from the film into the music so seamlessly as to be using them as extra musical instruments more than anything else, and the surging, industrial instrumental buildups surrounding the footage’s portrayal of the beginning of World War 2 and the acceleration of post-war industrialism alike mirror scenes from Pink Floyd’s The Wall in a way that is striking for its use of real footage.

I was most impressed, however, with the unexpected musical tone the band adopted in many places, seeming initially to contrast with the scenes on the screen, but in fact causing one to contemplate such scenes in a new way. My favorite example of this is the ominous, suspenseful, quiet instrumental coupled (in the first 20 minutes of the film) with humorous footage of men playing silly games, like blind wrestling and races on all fours. This detached, contemplative music adds an air of anthropological reflection to otherwise lighthearted, frivolous footage.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond is a visually-enchanting collection of some of the most phenomenal real things you will ever see captured on film, and as a whole an emotionally-rousing homage to the triumph and shame of Britain and humanity.

From the Sea to the Land Beyond Soundtrack CoverThe soundtrack, released just a few days ago, although a centrepin of this visual production, can stand strongly alone as a layered journey through music and sound as diverse as the Sea itself. Established British Sea Power fans will delight in catching fragments of both classic tracks like The Land Beyond and brand new tracks like Machineries of Joy.

Just go and find this and watch it and cry, and then listen to the soundtrack later and cry some more. If you’re anything like me it’ll be one of the best things you’ve seen or heard all year.

The Great Gig in the Sky

20 Jun

“I’m afraid we’ve got some unfortunate news to tell you.” A pause. I can hear my dad looking at my mom and my mom quietly saying “you tell her” on the other end of the line.

My heart drops and I can feel it hitting the walls of my stomach as it goes down. The first thing I think of is Domino. (I think they called her Domino because she must’ve been black and white at some point within the protection of her mother’s womb – though how they’d know that, I don’t know. I suppose there’s always that first five minutes after they’re done with her at the doggie parlour, but I’ve never seen her like that.) I mean, she may smell like laundry that hasn’t been dried properly and look a little bit like a bag of old dreadlocks crossed with something I’d pull out of the vacuum cleaner in my res when it stops working properly, but I love that dog to pieces. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if something happened to her. My heart is hammering now. “What’s happened?” I ask, not really wanting to know.

It’s at this moment that the Telkom payphone starts to drone like those heart-monitors in the movies when someone’s gone to say howdy to Jesus and ask his opinion on the Creationist-Evolutionist debate, and I shout over the sound for my parents to call me back.

“What is it?” I ask as I pick up the phone for the second time. Another pause.
“Woodstock’s gone to join the great gig in the sky”, my Dad says gently.
“Oh,” I respond. “Are you guys ok?”

I’ve known Woodstock since the moment he hatched, one Winter night when I was 7. He looked the way an old person must look if you leave them in the sun too long, but smaller. Slowly, he started developing feathers and looking like one of the “before” pictures would look if they had Lazer Hair therapy ads for budgerigars. Eventually he developed feathers and began to look like a majestic lemon with a tail, although he sadly lost the ability to fly at an early age, so that he soared to the ground like a well-aimed shuttlecock if he tried to jump off the kitchen counter.  Nonetheless, he fearlessly traversed our various houses (there have been four in his lifetime) on foot, never stopping short of taunting the vicious mongrels who could smell him from under the closed back door. For many years he eagerly ran up and down his perch and tweeted along in duet whenever I played the piano, as well as contributing numerous backing harmonies to my vocal recordings.

My parents are coping well with the grief. Like me, they recognize that he’s had a long and prosperous life for an aeronautically-challenged budgie, and will no doubt be delighted to reunite with the 12 family members he lost over the course of it.

In honour of Woodstock, I post the Pink Floyd song my dad referred to in reporting his demise. God rest his eternal soul.

It’s definitely a parenting thing.

19 Jun

The first music I ever danced to was Steely Dan.

The first music I ever recognized was Dollar Brand.

The first music I ever played (besides those AMAZING four-hour Free Jazz improvs I used to rattle off on our old Casio keyboard when I was 2) was JS Bach.

The first lyrics I ever really connected with were Pink Floyd’s.

The first lead guitarist I really fell in love with was David Gilmour

and the first person who I ever thought must’ve been the g-damn king of everything was undoubtedly Jimi Hendrix.


When he was 11, my dad busted his hardened-slacker reputation one year making sure he came top of his class, because if he did his dear old pops would buy him a guitar. He obliged: it cost him R12, and you could only really play it with a broken bottle-neck. It became known as “René’s gut-bucket” among the Avenant boys, and they would congregate from time to time to see who of them could prove their unshakeable manhood by holding three of its strings down long enough to strum a chord.

20 years later, though, he was composing music for the Jazzart dance company, and a further 20 down the line, despite his sinister B-Comm and Computer Science history, he’s finally a freelance professional musician. Whenever I bring a new friend home I kind of re-realise that my dad has a ponytail and the walls are lined with guitars, and I always end up pondering that where fathers are concerned, I really could’ve ended up with worse.

I was my dad who, conducting a series of experiments to determine what it takes to get a few-month-old dancing – and what this even looks like – discovered that I bopped up and down on my bum when he played Steely Dan. It was my dad who let me stay up a bit later because I’d jumped out of bed, having recognized the song my parents were playing, and it was my dad who showed me how to play Bach’s minuet in G and laughed when I converted it to Bach’s minuet in G minor. It was my dad who (masking numerous panic attacks) steered me away from Britney Spears and taught me about what had been going on in the world when Pink Floyd released The Wall. It was my dad again who, when the likes of Simple Plan began to find their way into our “music” folder, sat me down for a rather serious talk about Jimi Hendrix and his contributions to the rock genre. My dad taught me about contemporary music history and introduced me to the blues: its deep-running roots.

My dad introduced me to Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and The Beatles – all of whose music means so much to me that it feels weird saying just their names out loud when people ask me what kind of music I like.

Most importantly, though, my dad brought me up having been a victim of the “Ooh, we’re writing poo-imms, are we?” generation: he warned me that human civilization is a machine if not approached correctly, and never to let anybody turn me into a cog. He taught me to be suspicious of authority, and consistently drilled into my mind that I could do whatever I wanted with my life, as long as I was doing what I wanted.

Above all, he taught me to say “fuck you” (and loudly) to society when it needs to hear it, and it’s for this that I’m damn glad René Avenant is my father.


Poppa-bear is currently on lead guitar and vocals in The Hellfire Blues Club, and they’re pretty badass.