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Obscured by other successes, Pink Floyd's 1972 album is a quietly hidden gem,
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This review is from: Obscured By Clouds (Audio CD)
"Obscured by Clouds" was quietly released in 1972 by Harvest Records without much in the way of promotion, so even at the time a lot of rock music fans either missed it or were only dimly aware of it. This is a pity, as it's more than just good, and has stood the test of time well.
The reason for this album's relative obscurity could be that the tracks were composed and recorded by the band as the soundtrack to Barbet Schroeder's film "La Vallee", about Bulle Ogier's expedition to a remote stone-age tribe in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The album's title comes from the fact that due to the remoteness of the Papua New Guinea Highland location in the 1960s no-one had mapped it: maps simply showed a blank over the mountainous region and said "Obscured by Clouds." In the same way the remote inaccessible landscape was so described, this very good soundtrack album has been obscured by Floyd's more popular releases.
The music comprises ten separate pieces, four (including the two driving full-on rock openers) instrumental and the remainder with poignant, even poetic and whimsical lyrics. These are real songs, with sing-able tunes and sometimes with that quirky, trademark Floyd humour. It's surprising some of these numbers have not been covered more by other artists. "Free Four" stands out in particular as an upbeat rocker in a similar vein to "Money" on DSOTM, the band's next album release less than a year after OBC. The powerful "Childhood's End" showcases David Gilmour's palette of exceptional compositional, vocal and guitar-playing talent at its very best and sends a chill down the spine every time I hear it. The closer, "Absolutely Curtains", features a chorus of tribal people from the New Guinea highlands singing in their native tongue: I have no idea what they're singing about (if any reader knows, please enlighten us), but it gives the album a very distinctive conclusion.
So although it's less known and less played than some of Floyd's big-selling albums, give OBC a listen, and maybe you'll discover this little gem for yourself.
The lavishly illustrated booklet offered with the CD version, wherein all the lyrics of the songs are printed, is a good addition to the package missing from the original vinyl record release.