R.I.P. Syd Barrett, 1946-2006
Experimental electronic trio Radio Massacre International are big Syd Barrett fans. So big, to tell the truth, that they see no problem devoting a whole album’s worth of material out of their prolific schedule to commemorate his passing. What they have come up with (with a title after a line from Barrett’s “Baby Lemonade”, of course) is seven tracks of material clocking in at an hour, nearly half of which are two monoliths recorded a few days after the rock god’s death: the title track and “…Far Away”. Bookending the set, these two are the highlights of the trio’s loving eulogy, a cerebral head trip if ever one existed. The mark of their idol, including all those psychedelic techniques he allegedly conceived, ripples through the clanging, amorphous electronica. Rain Falls in Grey is almost unnaturally subdued even at its most rampant and chaotic, and there are no words to any of these songs because, well, what can you say to mourn and uphold someone like Syd Barrett without sounding corny or contrived? Then again, his beauty and genius as a musician (and Pink Floyd’s, for that matter) was not just what he invented, but that he transcended genre-markings and reached out to a wide variety of listeners. As a tribute, this is immensely difficult to get all the way through, even if it’s only intended as background music. It would serve its purpose a whole lot better if it didn’t feel so exclusive.