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‘Household Objects’: Pink Floyd decides to make an album with no musical instruments, 1973
06.20.2014
12:36 pm
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‘Household Objects’: Pink Floyd decides to make an album with no musical instruments, 1973


 
In late 1973, the members of Pink Floyd, probably somewhat perplexed themselves at the massive, massive worldwide sales of The Dark Side of the Moon, not to mention creatively intimidated to have to come up with a sequel to that monster, went back into the studio with the notion of recording something entirely avant garde for the album’s follow-up.

What the decided upon was to record an album of musique concrète using only sounds produced by common household items. The “Household Objects” sessions were known to yield just two, and perhaps three, recordings, before the band decided it would be easier to just use, say, a bass, instead of rubber bands attached to two tables, to get a bass guitar sound.

From “A Rambling Conversation with Roger Waters Concerning All This and That,” an Interview by Nick Sedgewick

Nick Sedgewick: I remember I went to E.M.I. studios in the winter of ‘74, and the band were recording stuff with bottles and rubber bands… the period I’m talking about is the before your French tour in June ‘74. [Not according to the Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, the recording dates were all between October and early December of 1973]

Roger Waters:  Ah! Right, yeah. Answer starts here… (great intake of breath)... Well, Nick… there was an abortive attempt to make an album not using any musical instruments. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t come together. Probably because we needed to stop for a bit.

Nick Sedgewick: Why?

Roger Waters:  Oh, just tired and bored…

Nick Sedgewick: Go on… to get off the road? ... have some breathing space?

Roger Waters: Yeah. But I don’t think it was as conscious as that really. I think it was that when Dark Side of the Moon was so successful, it was the end. It was the end of the road. We’d reached the point we’d all been aiming for ever since we were teenagers and there was really nothing more to do in terms of rock’n roll.

Nick Sedgewick: A matter of money?

Roger Waters:  Yes. Money and adulation… well, those kinds of sales are every rock’n roll band’s dream. Some bands pretend they’re not, of course. Recently I was reading an article, or an interview, by one of the guys who’s in Genesis, now that Peter Gabriel’s left, and he mentioned Pink Floyd. in it. There was a whole bunch of stuff about how if you’re listening to a Genesis album you really have to sit down and LISTEN, its not just wallpaper, not just high class Muzak like Pink Floyd or Tubular Bells, and I thought, yeah, I remember all that years ago when nobody was buying what we were doing. We were all heavily into the notion that it was good music, good with a capital G, and of course people weren’t buying it because people don’t buy good music. I may be quite wrong but my theory is that if Genesis ever start selling large quantities of albums now that Peter Gabriel, their Syd Barrett, if you like, has left, the young man who gave this interview will realize he’s reached some kind of end in terms of whatever he was striving for and all that stuff about good music is a load of fucking bollocks. That’s my feeling anyway. And Wish You Were Here came about by us going on in spite of the fact we’d finished.

Oi, talk about being brutally honest, there, Roger!

In his book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, Nick Mason wrote:

“Almost everything we’ve ever recorded in a studio has been extracted by someone at some point and subsequently bootlegged. However, no such recordings exist of the ‘Household Objects’ tapes for the simple reason that we never managed to produce any actual music. All the time we devoted to the project was spent exploring the non-musical sounds, and the most we ever achieved was a small number of tentative rhythm tracks.”

These tapes, two of them at least, were released on The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here “Immersion” box sets.

“The Hard Way” sounds much more realized to me than just a mere rhythm track:

 
The “singing bowl” sound of “Wine Glasses” was used two years after it was recorded for the opening of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” One would have assumed that the shimmering, ethereal sound that starts that number was a keyboard, but no it was a manipulated recording of a gently rubbed wine glass!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.20.2014
12:36 pm
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