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DAVID GILMOUR - On An Island   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Friday, 10 March 2006
..the assured work of a man true to himself and his art alone – which is perhaps the best type of artist there is...





What is obvious to man and beast is that if David Gilmour were in this for the paycheque and the ego, he’d’ve got in a different drummer, put the words “Pink” and “Floyd” on the spine, and toured the Tulsa Bumblefuck Enormodome for $400 a ticket to aging babyboomers trying to relive their past.


Unashamedly personal, “On An Island” dispenses with the grandoise, widescreen miserabilism of Gilmour’s previous records with Pink Floyd, in favour of an understated, intimate setting. Despite the obvious aural similarities, the mournful whalesong guitar, the precise and soft keyboard lines – you can take the man out the Floyd, but not the Floyd from the man – this is very clearly the work of a man alone.


The songs are smaller, more intimate, their arrangements are simpler, the production is uncluttered, sparse. There’s a sense that nothing be hurried, that there is time enough, that everything will unfold. That the intriacies and complications of modern life are mere detritus blown by the wind in our faces. The discreet and understated feel to this album make it clear that this is not a record built for stadiums, but for the heart.


Leadoff single and title track “On An Island” glides like a bird over a mountain range.Somehow remote, distant, removed from the world. It also features some blistering guitar work that proves that Gilmour could record one 60 minute guitar solo and it would still – probably  - be interesting to listen to.


Lyrically it’s clear that Gilmour is, most obviously, the luckiest bastard in the world. Rarely have I heard an album as content, as lacking in angst and emotional depth. One could even say that, at first listen, the record sounds like the bland lovesongs of a man at peace. And there is nothing wrong with this per-se, (only a fool would wish emotional hardship on anyone just so we could have better records to listen to), but the emotional variation of great records means that “On An Island” sounds as if it was created in a blissful emotional vacuum. The only song that really hints at the emotional urgency and vague annoyance of late period Floyd is “Take A Breath”. (Which, incidentally, is the undoubted highlight of the current live set).


Anyone of these songs could sit comfortably on the later incarnation of Pink Floyd, and whilst any of them could, putting all of these songs together makes it clear that Gilmour no longer needs the Floyd. He’s not in it for the money, or the ego, or the gratification. If he were he’d’ve cleaned out and used the name of his former band and grossed the GNP of a small country for a few months work. In that respect, the dogged refusal to take the easy option should really only be commended.


Age is proof that one need not mellow, and if one does mellow, it is more to match the world that changes around us. “On An Island” is the assured work of a man true to himself and his art alone – which is perhaps the best type of artist there is.


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