Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
(2003) - Capitol/EMI
by Matt Rowe of The Digital Bits
Audio Ratings (SACD 5.1/2.0): A+/A+
Extras Rating: N/A
Specs and Features
43 mins, single-sided, dual-layered (SACD/CD Hybrid Disc), CD jewel
case packaging, liner notes booklet, track access (10 tracks -
see track listing below), audio formats:
SACD DSD 5.1 & 2.0, CD PCM 2.0
by Alan Parsons
Produced by Pink Floyd
5.1 Surround Mix by James Guthrie
5.1/Stereo Mastering by Doug Sax and James Guthrie at das boot
recording DSD Authoring for SACD by Gus Skinas
David Gilmour (vocals/guitars/VCS3), Nick Mason (percussion/tape
effects), Richard Wright (keyboards/vocals/VCS3), Roger Waters (bass
someone in my head but it's not me..."
What can be said about this album that hasn't already been said? Of
course, we have to put away our dictionary of superlatives,
otherwise we would tap into it quite extensively here. And with good
reason. Pink Floyd's seminal work, Dark
Side of the Moon, is already sealed in history.
Dark Side of the Moon is Pink
Floyd's best known musical plunge into the inner workings of
insanity. Because it delivers a timeless and haunting quality, it
becomes an extraordinarily commanding experience. Spliced with the
need to address member Syd Barrett's descent into the uncharted
territories of the mind, and the obvious ability to create and
express their observations, Pink Floyd embarked on a journey so
remarkable that it set them apart in dramatic fashion. It set them
apart from other psychedelic and though-provoking bands of their
period. It also set them apart, in that sales of this album are a
thing of legend.
Interestingly, not only did DSotM
explore the mind of Syd Barrett (shrouded with schizophrenia which
was strengthened by his LSD usage - he was replaced by Dave Gilmour
to allow for his writing without having to tour or record), it also
unleashed a generation of drug users to "experience" the
album. No message, no censure... just pure introspection.
To comment further on the artistic quality of these songs is
foolish. Volumes have been written (in much better detail) about
these tracks in the great expanse of the album's 30-year history.
Better to talk about the effects of the added high-resolution and
surround mix instead.
At this point in the early timeline of SACD, even with several high
profile titles already available (The Rolling Stones/The Police) and
soon to be (Peter Gabriel/ Bob Dylan), this new version of Pink
Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
instantly becomes the single most essential SACD to date. This
release is nothing less than a milestone for the format. The 1973
stereo original, although incredible in its own right, still felt
caged. We knew back then that there was room for it to grow. When
the Quadraphonic format hit the market, which album do you suppose
was tapped for expansion? Of course... Pink Floyd's DSotM.
Now, with the advent of 5.1 sound and high resolution quality, it's
a natural choice to re-realize this classic.
Designed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the album, this
remix also strives to be more than just another remastering effort.
It's designed to be a gift to the fans in every way. It was decided
from the beginning to remaster the album using DSD (Direct Stream
Digital) technology, and to also price the disc competitively with
standard 'redbook' CDs. Even the date of the original's release was
closely followed for the SACD hybrid to achieve a sense of harmony.
That said, it was decided by the powers that be to have James
Guthrie (a close associate of the band for quite some time) mix and
master the 5.1 and stereo components of the album. And while it may
be a bit of a shock that original engineer, Alan Parsons, was not
invited to assist in the production, the album has not suffered in
any way. Simply put, DSotM
shines in every aspect of this disc.
The production quality of the new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes is
nothing short of astonishing - the SACD is a sonic masterpiece.
Every note of every song comes alive. Every instrument and sound is
allowed to speak, this time with true audio purity. And that's just
the stereo! The surround mix expands on the chilling aspects of DSotM.
Each channel becomes a conduit to a vital engulfment of the
listener. To say that it's an immersive experience is to
short-change the effect. The reality is in the surrealism - you
become the estranged mind. In a 'closed -eye' environment, you
become transported. The mix, in its purity, is the driving engine.
There is no gimmicky placement of effects. The 5.1 mix here feels
quite natural in a progressive sense. From the cash register sound
effects in Money, to the
clocks and guitar swirls of Time,
the mix for each song is done with just the right touch and
sensibility. The way I see it, James Guthrie should be asked to do
every 5.1 SACD project from here on out. For every band.
But as good as the new 5.1 mix is, this writer is still left with
the feeling that DSotM hasn't
yet reached its full potential. It still feels caged. That's not to
detract from the beauty of this SACD in any way... it's just a
telling reminder of how great and enduring this album truly is.
It should be noted that there is little in the way of extras here.
But you do get a hybrid "redbook" layer, compatible with
all existing CD players. And the 20-page insert booklet, that
accompanies the disc, is complete with new photographs and artwork,
along with a look at the original art and other odds and ends. The
lyrics are included too, along with credits for every aspect of this
Any way you slice it, this is a high quality effort from one of
Rock's greatest bands. With a redone cover by Storm Thorgenson,
updated to instill modernity to a classic, this new release of Pink
Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon
is truly an ongoing, and enthralling, experience. Whether you listen
to it as background music in the car (thanks to its CD
transportability) or soak in all of its high-resolution potential,
you'll be captured by the power of the material. And the quality of
this SACD, whichever mix you choose, absolutely brings it alive.
"And if the band you're playing in starts playing different
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon..."
Speak to Me
On the Run
The Great Gig in the Sky
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like