The Piper At the Gates Of Dawn

Pink Floyd (1967)

Warning: This is VERY different from the band Pink Floyd would become in just four years. At this point, the group was led by creative (and, unfortunately, literal) madman Syd Barrett, and that psychosis definitely shows. This record is the very definition of spaced-out psychedelia. As much as Sgt. Pepper seems to embody the style, it’s actually fairly stylistically antiquated when you really look at it (music hall, Victorian folk, swing tunes, blues rock, etc.). This LP was the bleeding edge of exploration in its time. It’s quite loopy, naïve, quirky and childlike (not to mention filled with odd influences and even weirder sounds). When people think of Flower Power, this is basically what’s in their mind’s eye – the mantraic, colorful, pastoral and dissociative songwriting that became associated with the genre. Barrett quickly slid into dementia after its release and quit the band a bit later. This psychological darkness informs many of the songs, which are superficially jolly but also very demented. The Piper At the Gates Of Dawn is almost the yin to Sgt. Pepper’s yang, simulating the disturbing after-effects of an acid trip where the other album idealistically embraced the consciousness-expanding effects of drugs. (Not that either album could be reduced to being a mere social statement on the use of hallucinogens.)

Key track: “Bike”

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