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Genre: Popular Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 23-AUG-1988
Released in 1969, Ummagumma represents where the influence of departed founding songwriter Syd Barrett began to fade in favor of the rather less whimsical and pastoral visions of Roger Waters. Ummagumma is a double album, divided into live and studio halves. The live cuts--"Astronomy Domine," "Careful with That Axe, Eugene," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and "A Saucerful of Secrets"--established the Floyd's predilection for gloomily atmospheric and faintly preposterous sci-fi bombast that would turn them into such a successful stage act. The kindest that may be said of the studio compositions--by and large interminable avant-prog rambles in search of the lost chord--is that they haven't dated terribly well. --Andrew Mueller
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a. "Something Else"
b. "Syncopated Pandemonium"
c. "Storm Signal"
d. "Celestial Voices"
Anyway, to me there is no controversy: This is the most "amazing" of the Floyd's albums, because it's not supposed to be. And no matter what the band says or some fans say, it's a masterpiece, INCLUDING DISC 2, and it's always been the album that most deserves to be brought out of the closet, unforgotten in the light of what came later, with wide-awake attention. I play the thing and still say to myself, "How the hell did they get those sounds in 1969 when Keith Emerson didn't even own a synthesizer? When The Nice, ELP, Crimson, Moodies -- no one was sounding at all like this in rock? Did they get ahold of a first Moog? (The Monkees had one on their fourth album). Was the young Richard Wright a humble genius?"
Yet this double-set in the early catalogue also rewards most after the most listens. I've now experienced enough of this oddity since 1981 that it seems there isn't a note on it that isn't purely musical. Maybe that's just the way my brain tweaked it, who knows. What attracted me at first was someone positioning my head near a speaker to hear -- with lights out, no drugs -- "Several Species--." Yes, "The Narrow Way" is the grounding force and best overall, kinda regular song here, with its fascinating & repeated plunging, in each of the three movements, into the deeper, darker melancholic turns of melody; but this immediately prior piece by Waters, chirping seamlessly from the pastoral of "Grantchester Meadows" into the petrifying -- why call this song "erratic"? Is that just to mime the critics and appear cool? Maybe it's actually a marvel of controlled chaos. In any case, WEIRD is what it is. And *if one likes weird,* that's what will give you the patience to come back to the harsher segments of UMMAGUMMA time and time again. You sense something special and worth your time. The live disc is truly great, but the studio disc only needs those who like some avant-garde to give it its due respect.
There's my rant. The remaster's on its way.