As Pink Floyd’s fifteenth and final LP ‘The Endless River’ drops today, it brings into question the relevance of progressive and psychedelic rock in today’s music market. Pink Floyd are known for creating expansive pieces of music that push instruments to their limits, whilst also dabbling in the realms of psychedelic visual art. Their live shows and musical film “The Wall” also demonstrate brilliantly the creativity available in the human mind, (and maybe some other, less legal things). They have sold over 250 million records in their lifetime, and ‘The Endless River’ has become the most pre-ordered album of all time. Their legacy lives on, and is likely to continue to do so with artists such as David Bowie, Tool and the Smashing Pumpkins, citing Pink Floyd’s influence. These artists, amongst many others who cite Pink Floyd as an influence have been regarded as progressive in their own right, help make up the music of today. Floyd’s influence clearly impacted many modern musicians today, as a resurgence of psychedelic rock seems to have occurred.
In the early 2000s, bands like Animal Collective and The Flaming Lips gained an element of mainstream success, but it wasn’t until 2008, when a little band called Tame Impala began releasing records over in a little country called Australia. Their music consisted of neo-psychedelic sounds that were exciting and refreshing, but it was only in 2010 that they rose to prominence with their album ‘Innerspeaker.’ They seemed to spearhead a new psychedelic revolution, taking bands such as Pond (with whom the band share members), and Melody’s Echo Chamber into a new era. This era was reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, when space-rock, prog-rock and acid-rock gained some mainstream popularity. The music in this era, much like it is now, was dream-like, beautiful, and truly pushing the boundaries.
Earlier bands such as The Flaming Lips and newer bands such as Tame Impala appear to have influenced a new British resurgence of psychedelic rock, or at least encouraged a wider spread acceptation of the psychedelic sound. Temples are possible the biggest act of the psychedelic genre to emerge from the UK recently, and their debut album ‘Sun Structures’ was a huge success, allowing them to break the American market early in their career. That album is set to be re-released under the name ‘Sun Restructured,’ as a re-imagined version crafted by Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, pushing the psychedelic sound as far as possible. Temples are signed to record label Heavenly, who seem to be leading the way with a British psychedelic “revolution.” Other artists signed to Heavenly include The Wytches, The Voyeurs (previously Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs), TOY and Stealing Sheep, all of which are heavily focused on producing music that incorporates psychedelic elements. Heavenly are even hosting their own event in January, featuring all of the aforementioned artists. These groups, along with others that seem to keep emerging both in the UK and over in the US (The War on Drugs, for example) are drawing influence from older bands and incorporating their sounds into music that is accessible for a new generation.
Another area of music that has been taking psychedelic elements to push the boundaries of creativity, is hip-hop. There have been a number of artists who have appeared over the past half-decade that have drawn influence not only from their hip-hop predecessors, but also what could be argued as classic acid and prog-rock. The main element of rap (spoken word) remains the same, but the syllabic characteristics and overall flow has changed. It’s not just experimentation with different speeds, but with the way words interact with one another in a way that hasn’t been done before. Some of the best MCs have always pushed what they can do with their words to the absolute limit, but this new generation of rap artists have taken it in a different direction. Furthermore, the beats and sounds used in the production of many of these tracks can be associated with psychedelic rock, assisting in the creation of something new; acid-rap. Funnily enough, ‘Acid Rap’ is the title of the second mixtape from one of the most proficient rappers in this area, Chance the Rapper. Chance gained huge attention when he released ‘Acid Rap’ in 2013, and has gone on to perform worldwide, even collaborating with experimental musician James Blake. Chance, and fellow musicians in this area like Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator, are pushing rap as far as possible by experimenting with new sounds and incorporating psychedelic elements. By mixing in elements from old school hip-hop, trap and their own intuitive ideas, these artists have created one of most exciting areas of music around today.
Pink Floyd release their final album today and it is clear that they, and other bands of their era, have had a significant impact on the music of today. Artists have been experimenting with psychedelic elements in their music for years, but perhaps the internet has allowed musicians access to different influences from all over world. With the apparent lack of borders, people have the chance to be exposed to so many different experiences and cultures whilst taking artistic inspiration from them. The psychedelic sound may have been bubbling under the surface of music for a few decades, but increase of access and digital landscape may have caused it to rupture.
Writter by Ryan Ottley-Booth @ Music Gateway
Follow Ryan on Twitter @R_Ottley_B