On An Island is the third David Gilmour solo album and his first studio recording since Pink Floyd's 1994 multi-platinum 'The Division Bell'. From the first moments of the sound collage that begins 'On An Island', you know it's a special experience that not only bears comparison with the best of Pink Floyd, but also confirms their lead guitarist and singer as an outstanding solo artist. Here he reveals a personal vision and a breadth of styles - folk, jazz, orchestral and rock - brought together as a unified piece by his lyrical guitar playing and instantly recognisable voice. On An Island is a collection of songs and instrumentals that had its genus in the critically acclaimed 2002 London Festival Hall concerts. Gilmour has stepped out of his super-group to discover he's still at his peak - and he's rightly pleased. 'It's my best and most personal work,' he says. 'Making it with my musician friends has been a positive experience on so many levels.' EMI. 2006.
David Gilmours solo career hasnt exactly been creatively restless; this is but the third album by the Pink Floyd guitarist, and first in 18 years. But that seemingly lackadaisical career ethos hasnt prevented Gilmour from producing some of his finest work here, an album whose soaring, lyrical guitar lines will be familiar to Floyd fans, yet one also blessed by often surprising nuances and delicate musical textures. Gilmours Division Bell
collaborator Polly Samson is credited with most of the writing, helping conjure a moody, texturally rich "island" thats as much musical as it is personally and lyrically metaphorical. "Castellorizon," the impressionistic opening instrumental collage, presages much of whats to come in subtle ways, with Gilmours emotionally-charged guitar lines climbing into realms usually staked out by contemporary Jeff Beck.
Gilmours choice of collaborators is equally compelling, from the evocative orchestrations of Polish classical modernist Zbigniew Preisner and expected contributions from Floyd (Richard Wright and proto-Pink mate Rado "Bob" Klose) to a host of guest turns that span both decades and styles: Georgie Fame, Phil Manzanera, Jools Holland, Caroline Dale and Robert Wyatt. The title track is graced by the stately harmonies of David Crosby and Graham Nash while the instrumental "Then I Close My Eyes" spins a hypnotic, bayou-meets-boho ethos where Dales gentle cello lines meet the melancholy cornet flourishes of Wyatt to challenge the very notions of genre itself. "This Heaven" finds Gilmour in unexpected R&B territory, weaving playful riffs with 60s London scenester Fames Hammond organ and finding its lyrical spirituality in simple, personal intimacy, a subtext that wafts through the upbeat airiness of "The Blue" to the spare "Smile," spinning a surprisingly romantic elegy that co! mes satisfyingly full circle on the closing "Where We Start." No man may be an island, but Gilmour has nonetheless crafted a rewarding artistic oasis on this, his finest and most gently personal album. -- Jerry McCulley
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