Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
When I am in the mood to get lost in a Pink Floyd soundscape, I listen to Wish You Were Here. When I am in the mood to hear shorter, more concise Pink Floyd songs, I listen to Final Cut.
Final Cut is mostly composed by Roger Waters and is a series of songs designed as a requiem for the aftermath of World War II. (I believe Roger Waters’ father had some connection to World War II so this perhaps sparked the emotional flame here). Pink Floyd, the band, and Michael Kamen and his orchestra perform the music. It is a fine and balanced meeting of rock band and orchestral music. The music is suitably dark, as you would expect a requiem song cycle to be.
The lyrics are painfully emotional snapshots that take you into the hearts and minds of those suffering from the aftermath of war and the fears of the cold war world. The music itself is quite severely emotional, and the vocal and instrumental musicianship is individually as well as relatively finely crafted and cinematic. For example, even the drum work is incredible because the drumming exists in the appropriate places and is absent in the appropriate places.
One thing I have to mention is that, out of my vast music library, Final Cut to me really represents the use of dynamics in music. Almost every song uses dynamics in the most interesting and sophisticated ways. For example, “Possible Pasts” uses a burst of punctuation in one place in the theme, and then repeats the theme and replaces silence where there was once punctuation. In “The Final Cut”, the main flowing section is stopped with a quiet, more still section to deliver an important part of the lyric. Other songs have really interesting shading with use of quieter and louder parts. Subtle effects like this really add tension and drama to the music and reinforce the lyrics.
I generally listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but I occasionally skip the last two tracks because they feel a little out of place musically (though not lyrically). It is almost like they needed to have some singles that were more traditional rock music. If I had to pick favorites they would be “Possible Pasts”, “Paranoid Eyes”, “Fletcher Memorial Home”, and “Southhampton Dock/Final Cut”, but it is all cut from the same good cloth. In my opinion, far superior to the rambling and unfocused Wall.