Title: Fwonk Side of the Moon
Release Date: April 2013
Catalog No: FW104
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Those crazy hipsters over at Fwonk* have been at it again! This time they felt moved by the fortieth anniversary of seminal Pink Floyd release: Dark Side of the Moon, and decided to recreate the album. But of course, they couldn’t just re-create it in the same manner it was originally recorded, so this is something of a re-visioning of the album. Each of the tracks is recorded in a style of the artists choosing. If that wasn’t enough, they included several additional tracks inspired by the original album.
There’s always a range of mixed emotions about a release like this. Some people will immediately discard it as being inferior because it isn’t the original (this is an especially difficult situation with something like Dark Side of The Moon, which many people feel is a perfect album in the first place). There are those that will listen to it, but not be willing to accept anything that strays from the original ideas. There are those that will listen to the recording, recognize it for the loving tribute that it is, but still write it off. And there are numerous other types of reactions to a recording like this, but you get the idea.
So, where do I fit in the range of possible reactions? I really don’t fit in any one category. Dark Side of the Moon is a fact of life at this point. It is a recording that held a very special place for me for a long time. I’m connected with it in more ways that I can enumerate (one of the bigger connections comes from it being engineered by Alan Parsons, whose music and engineering work I greatly respect). And yet, I can detach myself from the original recording now since I know it so well.
So, then the question is: is it any good? To answer that question, I have to put forth that the premise for the recording is valid in the first place: this is Pink Floyd, without Pink Floyd. That is, imagine that instead of Pink Floyd having made Dark Side of the Moon Mason. Waters, Gilmour and Wright had written the songs, and then sold them to other musicians to perform. Now, it is quite likely they would have been recorded and performed in completely different styles, and would not have even sounded anything like their original compositions, much less the versions recorded in the studio by Pink Floyd.
The other aspect that one has to accept is that this is a recording done in a different time. Styles (genres) and tastes have changed. Recording technology has changed. Production and engineering styles have changed. The recording world of today bears little resemblance to the recording world of the 1970’s. However, there is one thing that is interesting to note: at the time Dark Side of the Moon was recorded, it used many of the most technologically advanced techniques available. In that respect, this recording attempts to do something similar by using many of the more advanced techniques available today.
Okay – so now I can answer the question: is it any good. My answer is a reserved yes. Some of the tracks are exceptional. I was immediately taken with Breathe and Any Colour You Like, Money, and Eclipse. Some of the tracks weren’t quite there, like Brain Damage, which while really good is marred by the choice of setting the vocal so far back into the mix that it’s actually distracting. The track I found annoying was Time, which gets off to a good start but suddenly shifts tempo in a jarring manner that actually ruins the song. The remaining recreations of the original album are good, but didn’t stand out.
What about the additional tracks? They are good for what they are: inspired tributes to Dark Side of the Moon. Outside of the context of this recording, I doubt they would be able to stand on their own. But they don’t detract from the release, and do serve to show the depth of love for the original album.
So, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I like the overall recording, except for Time. But even though I have a somewhat mixed reaction, it’ still worth listening to and trying to accept what the artists are trying to accomplish with this work.