When I first bought this album, I didn't like it. There are only two studio songs with lyrics and at first it is certainly an uncomfortable cacophony. However, the more I listen, the more I like it. The wierdness is composed and put together with the care of a classical composer. From Richard Wright's pseudo classical piano doodlings, to the mellotron and running water interlude that lulls you into a false sense of security before the massive mellotron chord and drum-roll that sounds as though it was taken straight out of a horror film. Several species... is really the dark side of Grantchester Meadows. The Narrow Way begins with an ethereal acoustic jam and ends up as a full blown rock anthem, with Nick Mason displaying drumming of a similar standard to The Nile Song on 'More'. Then he comes into his own messing about with drum loops in the Grand Viser's Garden Party, neatly bookending this madness with a motif on the flute!
Then you have the live album to go. Astronomy Domine has a far more menacing effect than Barrett's version on the first album and the vocals at the end of A Saucerful of Secrets are a true feat, plus Nick Mason really belts those skins again on this one!!
Bands today would never realease an album like this 1) because their money-minded managers would never allow it and 2) they probably wouldn't know how anyway. True creativity in music is clearly not what it used to be.