The idea of an electronic tribute to Pink Floyd seems perfect. At least on the surface. I’ve often thought that electronic mix-masters could mine the world of prog-rock as easily as Fatboy Slim and others do obscure ‘70s funk albums. But as The Electronic Tribute to Pink Floyd proves, there’s a difference between lifting a sample and recreating a song.
Tribute albums are almost always a mixed bag, as Justin Stanzl noted in his review of the A Tribute to the Left Banke album. It is a near inevitability that some interpretations are going to sound great, and others are going to sound like filler. This holds doubly true when you create a tribute in one genre, a genre that might be miles away from that of the original artist. What makes the idea of an electronic rendition of Pink Floyd tunes interesting is that Pink Floyd has distinctly proto-electronic sounds in their catalogue. In other words, it’s not that great a stretch.
Unfortunately, this album also reveals some of the dichotomy of electronica. Some of it will envelop you in the groove, and the rest serves as mood music for low budget sci-fi flicks. I’ve spent many a hazy afternoon listening to both the original Pink Floyd albums and electronica in the past, so it was disappointing that they couldn’t be combined in the present. And it’s because of Roger Waters and David Gilmour.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the two hearts of Pink Floyd made the music what it was. The difficulty in stripping down the complexities of the original Floyd tunes might be the cause for such lackluster techno renditions, but the songs seem to lose both musical and emotive impact without the clear voices of Rogers or Glimour to guide them. This is especially true of the tracks that simply drop the ball. Vinny Fazzari’s fuzzy “Welcome to the Machine” might be an appropriate way to start off this form of tribute, but the song itself is an excursion into the textural difficulties of the whole album. CSM 101’s instrumental take on “Learning to Fly” rambles around the original melodies and then simply drops off.
The songs that try to capture the flavor of the original tunes work the best here if you’re looking for something actually indicative of Pink Floyd. On “Money,” Dynamichrome, with vocals by Alistair Foster, combines a simple beat pattern with music that complements vocals that sound eerily like Roger Waters. Mitchell Sigman comes up with a version of “Wish You Were Here” that floats between sounding like a straight up remake and an ethereal choir. Katrina Vasquez’s vocals on this track once again imitate Waters and sound great, but the hard transition at the song’s finale kills the mood quickly. The best interpretation on the album goes to Tin Electric, with vocals by Alexandra Nicole, for their take on “Run Like Hell,” sounding like an airy Lords of Acid. Not only does it remain true to the original, it incorporates the electronic sound the most seamlessly.
If you’d be tempted by this album just to find some good electronica tracks, there are a few. T.H.C.‘s “One Of These Days” is a great breakbeat send-up. Hande Frei makes great use of “Have a Cigar,” sounding nothing like Pink Floyd but creating a fun and danceable groove. But the album itself is just too weak to be much more than background. I’ve never understood the insistence of some electronic compilations to include multiple versions of the same song, especially when they sound almost exactly alike. Here we have two versions of “Comfortably Numb,” both by Alex Xenophon, and two versions of “On The Run,” one by Cracker G and the other by George Sarah. They could have stuck with just the “Acid Mix” of “Comfortably Numb” and killed the Cracker G track entirely and had a better disc.
Ultimately, the album is definitely not going to appeal to most Pink Floyd fans, and the lack of stellar tracks will make this one a throw away for all but the most devoted electronica fans. Great idea in theory, weak in practice.