1967 or ‘The Summer of Love influenced the music industry that leaped off from hallucinogenic drugs and rebellious-hearted artists, to derange audiences’ senses to create a psychedelic adventure. This progression of rock spread largely in America and the UK, creating a sliver of the soul to the movement of ‘The Summer of Love, where young people flocked to music for hippie spirituals and to rebel from their parent’s conservative lifestyle. The English rock band Pink Floyd charmed listeners with their advanced experimental chords that were played in large ballrooms.
Founder and mastermind lead guitarist Syd Barrett constructed the first few years of the band’s music and enlarged their sound at the height of the psychedelic rock movement. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) was the album that started Pink Floyd’s successful run. Before Syd Barrett’s short stage life, Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Override” on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn constructs a 9-minute instrumental full of whimsical holes in time that extends into a playful mind game for listeners.
The opening satisfies the rock intensity of the electric guitar bestowing an illuminated spark that pulled me towards the song. My first impression of this album, my mind was transported to a late 60s hotel party with people dancing in LED-lit rooms, and an old camera observing the interactions throughout the function. “Interstellar Override” hits you with an electric guitar solo until the beat drops introducing the drums that flow into a beautiful jam session. Shortly after, the sounds become chaotic and the track is sped up, creating more ‘noise’ than music; like having a conversation with a group of people and everyone is talking over each other.
The conversation dies down, depressing the sound into an awkward bird call formed by a scattered high pitch plucking. Within two minutes, the music becomes eccentric and interminable.
The plucking takes charge, carrying the weight of the song into intervals of guitar combined with other scattered instruments. This makes me imagine Alice falling into a hole, and during her infinity fall, this sound plays in the background, just waiting until she hits Wonderland. More than halfway into the song, an artificial beeping noise occurs like an old 60’s Space Odyssey movie, with stereotypical futuristic sounds of buttons ringing. The beeping coalesces into a shift where the instruments create a dizzy sensation, circling the closing of this slow period in the song. I felt this sensation produced an effect of everything and everyone melting or moving dramatically slowly. The artist teases and plays with the audience’s patience, having the instruments build on top of each other in suspense. Finally, I see the light out of the tunnel; hearing the same whistle as the original beat. The drums beat again with a heavy chest accompanied by the power of the electric guitar; both make it out of the dark. This is similar to the feeling of having your ears pop and then hearing the intensity of sounds after a long time of muffled noise. This combination of space and movement in the song, puts me in a transcendent state, coming in and out of reality or a false fear of falling endlessly. The combinations of the instruments saturate the notes for listeners to absorb either more or less potency. However, the unpredictable rhythm becomes overbearing during some parts of the piece, but this uneasy feeling settles with the everchanging rhythm. The musical track reflects a trippy out-of-body experience, by oddly spacing melodies and chaotic chimes of the drums, guitar, and computer-generated effects. This enforces a claustrophobic overcrowded feeling. The album’s other tracks share the irregular patterns in rhythm showing the forefront of consistency as an intentional style. Pink Floyd’s other two famous songs, “Astronomy Domine” and “Lucifer Sam”, enclose similar inspirations that distinguish the band from other pop bands.
In “Astronomy Domine”, Barrett shows his unique style of writing songs. He would first write the lyrics with no time signatures, then put the rhythm to the words, and lastly add the chords behind them. This style is present during parts of the song. It combines the slight howling of the artist with the chords behind, mimicking the howling while depressing the sound deeper and deeper. The drum’s impersonation roars vigorously, while the electric guitar seeps out, trying to find its light and caress the artist’s voice. “Lucifer Sam,” despite the notorious title, is comparable to a classic James Bond tune, with the feeling of mystery and action. “Lucifer Sam” has less of an irregular sound, most of the beats have a predictable flow, unlike the stuttering pace in “Interstellar Override”. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn includes the most delicate and significant pieces of Pink Floyd’s career. It was before Syd Barrett fell victim to mental illness induced by LSD that robbed him not only of his success in the band but of his entire music career; which the album showed his idiosyncratic mind. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is said to be named after a famous English children’s book of Barrett’s past; The Wind in the Willows. It is only right that the album would reflect aspects of innovation with backward tape loops that would hallucinate the tracks most used in “Interstellar Override” for a spacey effect. This thrilling creation is revealed on their album cover, with its psychedelic air. The tripped-out photo was executed by the photographer Vic Singh, who created an alien vibe using a prims lens; contouring the band’s images so they appear as a monster with several heads. Pink Floyd’s album topped the UK charts. The one number without any vocals, “Interstellar Override” offers an ironic silence to listeners’ ears. Despite the ambushed and loud volume that rock labels are known for, the instrumental leaves room for imagination for the audience to experience and create their feelings. “Interstellar Override” gives an abstract and personal touch to the instruments that vocals would have disrupted.