Pink Floyd in Improvisational Space on “Cosmic 13”

Perusing Tom Moon’s excellent blog, Echo Locator, (I need to talk to him about that name some time) I came across his recent article on the art of rock improvisation called “When Jamming Is More Than Jamming.” In it he talks about the jams on recent retrospective sets of George Harrison and Blind Faith and others. Among them is a jam released only on Pink Floyd’s website to commemorate the Late-Rick Wright’s birthday.

Back in 1993, Pink Floyd went into a rehearsal room and did something you don’t normally associate with the post-Roger Waters edition of the band. They jammed. Keyboardist Rick Wright, guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason were joined by longtime bassist, Guy Pratt at Britannia Row Studios and recorded straight to stereo DAT (Digital Audio Tape machine for the youngsters.)

The jam begins in space, hence the working title, “Cosmic 13,” and builds to a massive crescendo across 8 minutes. Gilmour’s solo is a delight of spontaneous creation. On their studio albums, his brilliant work is carefully manicured and polished, but here, he is simply going for it, starting with long sustained notes, space whooshes, tearful cries and angel’s laments. But slowly, with Wright’s piano and synth voicings and Pratt’s bass pushing him gently, he slowly accelerates. Mason enters, patiently building up a 4/4 groove that evolves into a march. Gilmour’s gets more energized, leaping octaves, dropping muted depth charge bombs and ascending until he climaxes in Jeff Beck-like squeals with echoes of “Echoes”. If I wanted to tell someone just how astounding a guitarist Gilmour is, I might play this piece. Creating instinctively and in the moment, this would wind up evolving into the instrumental, “Marooned” from The Division Bell.

Hearing this and Pink Floyd’s likely swan song, The Endless River from 2014, it makes me think there is more, equally transcendent music in the vaults of this band.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.