We are dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at one of Pink Floyd’s most cehrishable moments on record and appreciating it in a whole new way. We’re taking a new look at the band’s 23-minute epic ‘Echoes’ the isolated guitar track.
It sees David Gilmour arguably in his peak delivering one of the band’s most widely-loved compositions. While to isolate any one part of a Pink Floyd song is about as sacrilegious to prog rock as one can get, we still think there’s a lot of value in listening to Gilmour wail on this iconic song. In an interview with Rolling Stone Roger Waters said he was attempting to describe “The potential that human beings have for recognizing each other’s humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy.”
With such a grandiose beginning there’s something intrinsically wonderful about hearing the chunky composition reduced to a simple one-track recording. Considering the song originated as a homage to minimalist composer Terry Riley, originally called ‘The Return of the Sun to Nothing’, then we think it’s only right it be listened to in one of the most basic ways.
There isn’t much about ‘Echoes’ that hasn’t already been said. Pink Floyd’s Meddle is the lucky album to include the 23-minute track and while it is chock full of instrumental joys, Wright takes the lead with a simply breathtaking organ solo. It’s a solo allegedly inspired by The Beach Boys track ‘Good Vibration’ but one that could never have come to light without Gilmour’s powerful playing providing the backbone of the piece.
That is the truly impressive thing about this audio. At 23 minutes long, the track is a behemoth of a piece and requires the concentration of a true expert and as any true expert will tell you, you may be called ‘lead guitar’ but that doesn’t mean you run point on every composition. As such, Floyd track allows a multitude of different instruments to take the lead for passages of the music. For us though, there’s no line more interesting than Gilmour’s.
Replacing Syd Barrett in 1968 was a difficult thing to do. Barrett wasn’t just an icon to his fans he was the band’s lyricist and composer—their artistic drive. So when Gilmour replaced the singer he trod very carefully and allowed Waters to guide his band how he saw fit. By the time Meddle rolled around, he had begun to enact his own will from time to time.
‘Echoes’ is one of those moments where we see the very pinnacle of Gilmour’s playing. He is both rhythmically aligned with the band and also adventurous and able to finish the masterpiece with the flourish of a painter’s brush. But, in this game, hearing is believing so we invite you to take a listen to David Gilmour’s isolated guitar on Pink Floyd’s classic, ‘Echoes’.