Pink Floyd has confirmed the release of its 15th studio album, 'The Endless River,' due on November 10. The project, which finds David Gilmour and Nick Mason completing work on previously unreleased sessions with the late Rick Wright, will be co-produced by Phil Manzanera, Youth and Andy Jackson. Here are 12 things you need to know about what might just be the biggest and most surprising classic rock release of the year:
'Endless River' grew out of unreleased recordings from 20 years ago
Gilmour and Mason returned to series of ambient, lyricless recordings from the same period as Pink Floyd's last album, 1994's 'The Division Bell,' to complete 'The Endless River.' These secondary sessions began in late 2013. Additional drumming from Mason was the first new element to be added.
The album will include some of Richard Wright's final recordings
The initial leak on this surprise project, courtesy of Gilmour's wife Polly Samson, framed 'The Endless River' as Wright's "swansong" -- putting into perspective, once more, what the keyboardist meant to Pink Floyd. His 2008 death led many to believe that 'The Division Bell' would be the group's final recording. 'The Endless River' includes work by Wright from as far back as 1969. In all, he is credited with writing or co-writing 12 songs.
Secret sessions were, at first, mistaken for a Gilmour solo album
Durga McBroom-Hudson, a long-time backup singer with Pink Floyd, posted a photo to Instagram last year from sessions being led by Gilmour -- and at the time, the assumption was that the guitarist was at work on a follow up to his 2006 solo album 'On an Island.' Instead, McBroom-Hudson later confirmed that they were adding vocals to these original Pink Floyd recordings.
This album's title harkens back to an earlier Pink Floyd moment
'The Endless River' echoes the penultimate lyric on 'High Hopes,' the last song on 'The Division Bell.' That song was written by Gilmour, with additional lyrical help by Samson -- who is also collaborating on the new album.
Though instrumental in its infancy, the project will have vocals
McBroom-Hudson says Gilmour has “done a lead [vocal] on at least one” track, now confirmed as 'Louder Than Words.' The lyric, which Samson says she worked on, seems to call for an end to Pink Floyd's years of inter-band turmoil: "We bitch and we fight, but this thing that we do, it's louder than words."
Gilmour's 'Endless River' co-producers have deep Floyd connections
Manzanera co-wrote 'One Slip' for Pink Floyd's 'Momentary Lapse of Reason' album in 1987, co-produced Gilmour's 'On an Island' project and has toured with the guitarist several times. Youth, meanwhile, is part of the Orb, an ambient-house band that Gilmour worked with on 2010's 'Metallic Spheres.' Jackson has been a recording engineer for Pink Floyd on every album since 1979's 'The Wall.'
'The Endless River' will be more than 'The Big Spliff'
Both McBroom and Samson initially indicated that 'The Endless River' would be based on an instrumental titled 'The Big Spliff,' principally composed by Jackson. It's now clear that this piece of music will only make up a small portion of the larger 'Endless River' song cycle, which consists of 19 separate titles -- concluding with 'Louder Than Words.'
Pink Floyd, ‘The Endless River’ Track Listing
‘Things Left Unsaid’
‘It’s What We Do’
‘Ebb and Flow’
‘The Lost Art of Conversation’
‘On Noodle Street’
‘Eyes to Pearls’
‘Louder Than Words’
The initial recordings found Pink Floyd working as an intimate trio
Gilmour began work on this new project by returning to some 20 hours of leftover material. In fact, more than 100 pieces of music were initially recorded, some as a trio and the rest over two subsequent days of jamming with a group that also included Pink Floyd touring musicians Guy Pratt on bass, Jon Carin on keyboards and Gary Wallis on percussion. A portion of these original recordings became 'The Division Bell,' while the rest laid dormant for decades.
Similar Pink Floyd ambient music from the era wasn't used as source material
Pink Floyd presented a complex, 22-minute soundscape before concerts of that era, attached below. It's since been confirmed as a separate, if perhaps similar, piece of music.
The initial news came with a hint of a possible Pink Floyd tour
McBoom-Hudson, who has toured with Gilmour and with Pink Floyd off and on since the 1980s, initially didn't rule out the idea of a dates in support of 'The Endless River,' telling fans simply to "stay tuned." Pink Floyd last hit the concert trail in 1994, when these previously unfinished recordings were still new.
Early samples focused on Gilmour and Wright's contributions
The first clip (below) contained trademark melodic Fender Stratocaster work from David Gilmour, while a second unnamed segment (featured earlier on this list) highlights Richard Wright at the piano. Strings gently pulse underneath as Nick Mason's cymbals, providing typically Floyd spacey atmosphere.
20 years is a long time between between albums, but not the longest
Pink Floyd's two decades between 'The Division Bell' and 'The Endless River,' though certainly the lengthiest expanse in their history, has been dwarfed by other classic rockers. There were, for instance, 24 years between the Who's 'It's Hard' and 'Endless Wire.' Then, there's the Eagles. They waited 28 between 'The Long Run' and 'Long Road Out of Eden.'
An unknown teenager created the distinctive cover art
The art for 'Endless River' comes courtesy of an 18-year-old Egyptian graphic designer named Ahmed Emad Eldin, after his portfolio was discovered online at Behance. A creative director from Floyd's long-time album cover designer Hipgnosis reached out to Eldin via email.
Stephen Hawking is making a return appearance
Physicist Stephen Hawking, who was previously featured on 1994's ‘Keep Talking,’ again provides vocals -- this time on a track called ‘Talkin’ Hawkin’.’ Pink Floyd scored a No. 1 Billboard mainstream rock hit with 'Keep Talking,' off 'The Division Bell' album.
No, really. Stop asking! In a perturbed-sounding Facebook post, Waters reminds fans that “I left Pink Floyd in 1985, that’s 29 years ago. I had nothing to do with either of the Pink Floyd studio albums ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ and ‘The Division Bell,’ nor the Pink Floyd tours of 1987 and 1994, and I have nothing to do with ‘Endless River.’ Phew! This is not rocket science, people. Get a grip.”
You Think You Know Pink Floyd?
See how well you know David Gilmour, Roger Waters and the rest with the little-known facts on this exclusive video!