Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sysyphus 13:27
     (written by Richard Wright)

Part I 1:08

Dark and majestic, the first part features Rick playing drums and cymbals as well as keyboards. Starts off the piece strongly.

Part II 3:22

The second part is a piano piece which starts out nice, but seems to slowly fall apart halfway through, losing its melodic quality in favor of dissonant and unrelated chords, the rumble of sustained low chords underneath, and some non-rhythmic cymbals and sound effects.

Part III 1:44

The third part is wholly 'experimental' music, which today just sounds like a random assortment of sounds, including piano, bass, and percussion. Strange bird- and animal-like sound effects are included (an occurrence that was rapidly becoming commonplace in the Floyd's music) á la Pow R. Toc H. Making weird music seems to be the only point here, and it is successful on those terms.

Part IV 6:53

The final part is a quiet and relaxing organ piece, incorporating real bird song this time, until a little under halfway through when a very loud organ chord, followed by a drum/cymbal roll, interrupts the proceedings. Then the quiet organ continues, but this time it takes on a more sinister note as discordant sound effects are added, making the piece increasingly surreal until the theme from Part I returns, and Sysyphus is — appropriately enough — back where it started.

Sysyphus, Rick's solo piece, was named after a mythical Greek king of Corinth (also spelled Sisyphus). In legend, Sysyphus was condemned to Hades to roll a heavy stone up a steep hill, only to have it always roll down again when he approached the top.

Rick Wright: "I played a Mellotron in Sysyphus, using it for special effects, and straightforward string and bass stops for the melody lines. We all played alone on our pieces. I thought it was a very valid experiment and it helped me. But I think Roger feels that if we'd all worked together it would have been better."

Even though it was at Rick's urging that the solo disc be recorded, so that he could have an opportunity to write 'real music' (he had once told the press his ambition was "to hear my own symphony performed at Festival Hall" [Schaffner 82-3]), he was later to label his piece in four movements as "pretentious." [Schaffner 150] And certainly some of it is, but other parts are under-rated. Rick seems to produce more beautiful music when he keeps it simple (witness his piano work for The Great Gig in the Sky or The Violent Sequence).

Disc One
Astronomy Domine
Careful with that Axe, Eugene
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Saucerful of Secrets, A
Disc Two
Grantchester Meadows
Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
Narrow Way (parts I-III), The
Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Parts I-III), The

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