Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Division Bell

The Division Bell
Studio recording 1993 
* Released 5 April 1994

David Gilmour: guitars, vocals, bass, keyboards and programming
Nick Mason: drums and percussion
Richard Wright: keyboards and vocals
Guy Pratt: bass
Dick Parry: tenor saxophone
Tim Renwick: guitars
Jon Carin: programming and additional keyboards
Gary Wallis: played and programmed percussion
Bob Ezrin: keyboards and percussion
Backing vocals: Sam Brown, Durga McBroom, Carol Kenyon, Jackie Sheridan and Rebecca Leigh-White
Orchestra arranged by Michael Kamen
Orchestrations by Michael Kamen and Edward Shearmur
Earth noises: G. William Forgey

Produced by Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour
Recording and mixing engineer: Andrew Jackson
Recorded at: Astoria (on Thames) recording studio, London (Assistant engineer Jules Bowen); Britannia
Row recording studios; Abbey Road recording studios; Metropolis studios; The Creek recording studios
(Engineer Keith Grant).
Orchestra recorded by Steve McLaughlin
Mixed by Chris Thomas and David Gilmour
Mixing assisted by the EFOST monitoring system
Mastered at the Mastering Lab, LA by Doug Sax and James Guthrie
General technical and musical instrument supervision: Phil Taylor
Drum technician: Clive Brooks
With thanks to: Polly Samson (lyrics), Nick Laird-Clowes (lyrics), Douglas Adams (title), Anthony Moore
(lyrics), Stephen Hawking (voice), Paiste Cymbals and Drum Workshops LA
Cover design by Storm Thorgerson
Sculptures by Aden Hynes and John Robertson, from drawings by Keith Breeden
Photography by Tony May, with Rupert Truman and Stephen Piotrowski
Graphics by Peter Curzon, with Ian Wright
Illustrations by John Whitely and Sally Norris

Work on The Division Bell began with a meeting assessing how the best albums of the past had been made, and what the band wanted to do differently with the new album.

Nick Mason: "It was a moment when we did review, really, how other albums had been done and what we liked in past albums, and what we'd like to do again, and find. What I particularly wanted, on this record, was for it to be much more a played record, and played by the band rather than bringing people in to augment it and help do it and so on. At least the basic ideas are all designed, and therefore playable, by the principals." [Redbeard interview]

And so Dave, Nick, Rick, Bob Ezrin (once again a co-producer), and a couple of others spent a fortnight at Nick's Britannia Row studios jamming and coming up with musical ideas.

Dave Gilmour [Feb 93]: “I doubt if we’ll get it out by this year. I’m hoping it will be finished before Christmas. We’ve just spent two weeks in Nick’s studio, with Rick and Nick and myself all just jamming... putting down ideas, which are joint ideas. This album I’m hoping will be more of a joint effort. We sat and threw ideas around like we used to, out of which we have got 50 pieces of music on a rough DAT, which we’re currently sifting through. All the people who have listened to it think we’re really onto something. It’s the first time we’ve done this bouncing-around-in-a-rehearsal-room type operation since 1974.” [TAP 59]

Nick Mason: "It's been really fun, it has been working as a band again. We certainly have spent some time in the studio actually playing together as a trio or sometimes with Bob [Ezrin] on bass or whatever." [MTV News]

Rick Wright: "On this one I have been involved right from the beginning. Writing and singing, and it's a completely different situation this time, and I'm not on a wage. I'm in partnership with them, and very happy about that. We are actually the three of us making a Pink Floyd album." [MTV News]

Nick Mason: "...I think perhaps with the newest record, it goes back to perhaps Wish You Were Here or something like that." [Redbeard interview]

When asked why there was a recognizable and seamless Pink Floyd quality to the new album, Rick Wright responded: "Partly because I was involved with it a lot more. And we made certain decisions, for example Momentary Lapse of Reason, I was involved with it virtually near the last quarter of making the album, and just putting in a couple of Hammond tracks down or whatever. This, Nick, myself, and Dave were involved right from the beginning, in Britannia Row just playing together. And out of that, the tracks came and decisions like: Nick will play all the drums, I will play all the keyboards (and Jon Carin came in as a programmer and played some of the keyboards); but it was to get the band feeling back. And for that reason... the fans will like it more. We were kind of thinking of Wish You Were Here, which happens to be my favorite album."

Rick: "The intention of this album was to try and recreate a band feeling, which hadn't happened on Momentary Lapse of Reason. We wanted, both Dave and Nick (I can speak for them I think), and myself, really liked the feeling we had on Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here." [Above 2 from Redbeard interview]

A certain amount of publicity was involved with Rick's full reinstatement in the band and greater musical involvement, creating the first truly collaborative Pink Floyd for many years. Nick Mason specifically discussed the difference Rick made to the sound of the new record: "The sound is quite often not necessarily only to do with what the solo instruments are, it is to do with an overall sound, and Rick's contribution on that level is immeasurable. And you forget it until you hear it. He's an extraordinary character anyway, because a lot of what he does is totally natural. If you explain what you want, he might have some difficulty with it; if you just leave him to do it, it just comes straight out. There are certain bits and pieces on the record that were done by simply leaving Rick in the room with the tape recorder running and he just played. It was a bit like panning for gold, you could then take this stuff and shake it, and there were the golden nuggets." [Redbeard interview]

Over time, a theme was developed for the album, and all the songs were written by mid-summer of 1993. The rest of the year would be spent recording and mixing aboard Dave Gilmour's floating studio, Astoria (pictured right).

Dave Gilmour: "Trying to capture life, imagination and sparkle and put them onto tape is a difficult and demanding job. It takes months of painstaking work for me. But when you've done 12 vocal parts yourself and mix them with a block of harmonies and guitar solos and gotten all that perfection, it's wonderful to listen back and have it sound fantastic. I'm not interested in that live 'cause it's impossible. You can only be one person on the stage; you can be an orchestra by yourself in the studio." [Guitar Jan 1985]

Dave Gilmour: "I suppose you could say there's a theme throughout the album, which involves communication. All, pretty much all the songs are connected to the theme of communication in some way or another." [Redbeard]  "That's what we're trying to create, simply magic. It's as simple as that. Try to create magic, try to move people, move their hearts a little bit. I have already had vast amounts of enjoyment out of this record myself. I sit at home late at night and listen to it in all the stages it's been through, just a collection of songs, collection of tracks without words, collection of tracks with words, with melodies, without melodies, all the way through. I get home from the studio and I listen through to the progress that we've made, and as soon as we had a collection of pieces a few months ago we had a collection of pieces I had a tape an hour long over an hour long with pretty much all the tracks on it. I'd sit at home late at night after returning from the studio and listen to them and I really have got off on it, myself. Enjoyed it so much. You then just keep honing away at it, working those things to try and make them even better, make them have more point, more poignancy if you like, more heart. You can then only hope when you deliver it out that the pleasure that you've had will be shared by other people. I know nothing pleases everyone, but there will be people who will listen to this who will derive the same sort of pleasure that I have out of it, and that's something that makes me feel very good about this particular record."

Dave Gilmour: "You do have to let it [the record] go, you always think there was more that you could've and should've done, and you always kind of want a little bit more time to get the thing finished to the perfection that you imagine. You always think that there's a little bit more that you could've done." [Above 2 Redbeard interview]

Douglas Adams, on why he received an acknowledgment: "Dave Gilmour asked me to fiddle around some of the lyrics, which I did, though I don’t think he used any of my suggestions in the end. The only suggestion of mine that I know was used was that the album should be called The Division Bell. I didn’t think up the title, of course, I merely pointed out that the phrase was lying there in one of the song lyrics and would make a great title. In fact, there’s a story there. I had given a talk at the Royal Geographical Society in aid of the Environmental Investigation Agency’s work on rhino conservation. Both Dave and Nick came along and we all went out to dinner afterwards. Dave was a bit preoccupied about the title problem — they had to have the title by the following morning, and no one could decide what it should be. I said, 'Okay, I’ll give you a title, but it’ll cost you a £35.000 contribution to the EIA.' Dave said, 'Well, tell me what your title is and we’ll see.' So I suggested The Division Bell. And Dave said, 'Hmmm, well seems to work. Sort of fits the cover art as well. Yeah, okay.'" [Internet, newsgroup, via Echoes IML]

Cluster One
What Do You Want from Me
Poles Apart
Great Day for Freedom, A
Wearing the Inside Out
Take It Back
Coming Back to Life
Keep Talking
Lost for Words
High Hopes

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