Space Is The Place Part 1 – Pink Floyd Meets Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

“We are not disappointed that you do drugs as much as we are of you for not sharing”.
– Me, sometime during the Seventies. . .I think . . it’s a bit hazy.

As a young teen age boy I was into science fiction which, in hindsight may be one of the reasons I was always attracted to music with an other worldly, mysterious vibe. When I was thirteen, I used some of my bar mitzvah money to buy a bunch of records that would have a big impact on my musical development. Some of them have been discussed in previous posts (Live Evil by Miles Davis) and others will get their deserved attention in due time (Third by Soft Machine comes to mind). Reviews of earlier Pink Floyd records in Rolling Stone magazine piqued my interest so one of the records that I bought was Pink Floyd’s “Meddle”. I must admit that I found the record a bit uneven but I was immediately into the first song of the record, “One Of These Days”, and the composition that took up the entire second side of the record, “Echoes”.

“Echoes” is Pink Floyd pushing the limits of sonic experimentation in the studio. The ping sounds at the beginning of the song were made by amplifying a piano through a rotating Leslie speaker (giving it that “wobbly” effect) and an early tape based echo device. A wind-like sound was created by vibrating the strings of a bass guitar with a steel slide and feeding the signal through the tape echo. The high pitched electronic “screams” heard in the middle of the song were accidentally discovered when the guitar was plugged into a wah wah pedal incorrectly. These sonic experiments were subsequently assembled into a coherent tone poem that holds up amazing well over time.

This brings us to the video below. There are rumors that Pink Floyd was originally offered to do the soundtrack for 2001: A Space Odyssey (not true, Kubrick had actually commissioned a score for 2001 from Hollywood composer Alex North but during post production, decided to use the classical pieces he had used as “guide pieces” for the soundtrack). The Echoes/2001 “connection” isn’t even the only piece of Pink Floyd involved synchronicity that has seeped into popular culture. In the mid nineties, I heard about the mashup of “Dark Side Of The Moon” with “The Wizard Of Oz” (check out “Dark Side Of The Rainbow” here). Nevertheless, the video, which synchronizes Echoes with the final sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ works amazing well. The music and imagery complement each other in surprising ways. The video also serves as an interesting example of how the score really impacts the whole movie.

Pink Floyd – Echoes & 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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