Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is loaded with innovative musical ideas that set high expectations for how epic a rock studio effort could be in 1973. It was Pink Floyd’s first concept album as the lyrics cohesively revolved around heavy themes like mental illness, mortality, and greed. Instrumentally, it’s sound collages and extended jams reinforced the lyrical content and would influence all psychedelic and progressive rock records in its wake. Fortunately, the group and their engineer Alan Parsons had access to the new 16-track mixing technology and new synthesizers like the EMS Synthi AKS, which created the texture of their cosmic universe.
Dark Side of the Moon was purposefully sequenced into two vinyl sides as two symphonic movements— the band’s performance gradually crescendos until they hit a climax at the end of the first and beginning of the second. “Money” opens the second side in a refreshing way— it’s accessible riff brings you back to earth after Clare Torry’s experiential vocal performance on “The Great Gig in the Sky” and its shift from 7/4 to 4/4 time inspires an exhilarating performance. It’s the perfect combination of their homemade cats register samples, and their seemingly effortless ability to craft groovy riffs. Bassist Roger Waters and guitarist David Gilmour play together with a chemistry you can feel, and it becomes even more tangible with a great hi-fi.
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When composing the album, Waters was inspired by John Lennon’s debut solo effort, Plastic Ono Band. “Well Well Well” is the most aggressive guitar-driven track on the album that questions both the world and his relationship with Yoko Ono. Waters admired Lennon’s straight-forward and raw writing style and applies its bluesy bars to “Time” and “Money”.
Tame Impala are the juggernauts of psychedelic music today— their performances take listeners into another stratosphere with Kevin Parker’s saccharine falsetto and the band’s jammy song structures. “Mind Mischief” is built with the same guitar-bass synthesis as “Money” with a sugary melody and a lush combination of synthesizers. Its main adrenaline-fueled riff is psychedelically-manipulated throughout the track, and the hazy chaos they craft in the middle of the track is similar to “Any Colour You Like”.
The Flaming Lips use the same types of tools along with string orchestra samples to build “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell”. The band brings Floyd’s style of psychedelia into an indie context and combines a dominant bass line with some acoustic guitar strums, stunning string arrangements, and quirky synthesizers that travel from ear-to-ear. Similar to both Tame Impala and Pink Floyd, “Ego Tripping” feels like a continuously evolving beast that becomes more beautiful and complicated as multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd rotates experimental and classic samples under Wayne Coyne’s lyrical advice to not let life pass you by. They also covered Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety and released it as a studio album in 2009!
Dark Side of the Moon transports its listeners into another world whilst still posing the problems of real life within a musical context. A hi-fi listening experience makes it feel even more immersive and revelatory. “The dark side of the moon itself is an allusion to the moon and lunacy,” said David Gilmour in past interviews. “The dark side is generally related to what goes on inside people’s heads— the subconscious and unknown.”