Subscribe

(Credit: Roger Tillberg / Alamy)

Music

Looking back at Pink Floyd's ambitious experiment, 'Meddle' 50 years later

@jackwhatley89

By 1971, Pink Floyd were one of the biggest bands in the world and drowning in touring commitments. They were restricted to only snippets of studio time as they tried to write and record Meddle. The story goes that, while messing around in the Abbey Road studio, Pink Floyd happened upon one note that would form a 23-minute song and define their output as one of the finest prog-rock bands of all time. ‘Echoes’ was the song, and it is just one part of why Meddle is one of the band’s best records.

With limited time and resources, the band’s experimental edge came to slice through the muck and deliver an LP worthy of their high praise. 50 years later, and it appears as though Meddle’s presence in the pantheon of The Floyd is ever-growing, with countless generations resisting the album to witness what accurate, precise and potent musical experimentation is.

No clue and no direction are usually two facets one would like to keep away from the art of making music. But, in the case of Pink Floyd and backed by the talents of the musicians at hand, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason composed a series of novel sound experiments that would eventually turn into ‘Echoes’. This 23-minute opus would define the entire album. The record is considered a transitional moment for the group, after they had left Syd Barrett’s style behind and before Roger Waters took over lyrical duties, Meddleis blissful in its envelopment of the listener.

The band used several experimental methods to start creating the album. One such method was to ask each band member to play on a track without any knowledge of what the rest of the group had played or would play. The bandmates were also asked to experiment with tempo, with simple directions like “first two minutes romantic, next two up-tempo” being the only notes. The early experiments, titled Nothings, was soon developed into Son of Nothings, which, in turn, was followed by Return of the Son of Nothings as the working title of the LP, before they became a single side of the record, ‘Echoes’.

These experiments would not cease on the flipside of the album. ‘one of These Days’, the album opener, would feature Mason maliciously saying into the mic: “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces.” It drawls on as the bassline builds to an unfathomable climax. It, alongside ‘Echoes’, has become a signature favourite for Floyd’s fans. But the rest of the album is potent and powerful, providing a sincere reflection of Pink Floyd in their expressive pomp.

Simply put, this album was the moment when Pink Floyd moved out of the traditional rock sphere and towards forging a new genre in prog-rock. Initially, the group had been expanding the psyche-rock sound but now jumped out of the realm of rock and towards a new and progressive musical style.

Using everyday objects and brand new techniques, the group were very much on the path towards greatness. In fact, it was the first step towards their most beautiful records, and without Meddle, many of them would not have been made at all. This album is the foundation stone for all of that work, and everybody else’s within the prog-rock arena.