Responsible for some of the biggest advancements in music ever, Pink Floyd are one of the most influential musical acts throughout the world. Experimental from their very inception, the band were never content, pushing boundaries both sonic and otherwise to the very limit. Signing to major label, EMI Records in 1967, little knew that the band would go onto change the face of music forever.
Understanding the bands importance to the musical vocabulary we now speak on a daily basis there is so much more to learn from Pink Floyd. With both Richard Wright and Syd Barrat sadly no longer with us, the band closed its legacy with 2014’s The Endless River. Mostly instrumental, it contained work from The Division Bell sessions along with material from the late Richard Wright. Wanting to look further into the band musical mythos an exhibition was devised, spanning as far back as their inception of The Piper At The Gates of Dawn right up until their magnificent end. An exhibition that would intrigue newcomers and satisfy even the most avid Floyd fan. A comprehensive look into the life and times of one the world’s most exciting bands ever, this is Their Mortal Remains.
Combining visual, audio and physical every sense is engaged in this fantastic experience. After being given your headphones and what is disguised as an audio guide, its clear to see that this is not going to be like any exhibition you’re ever been to. Entering the exhibition, immediately you’re greeted to an experimental cacophony and a psychedelic ceiling as you’re introduced to the delightfully mad world of this truly unique band.
Starting from their earliest formations, each era of the band is explored. Wandering around I found myself, puzzled at how suddenly there was music in the headphones. Slowly but surely understanding that these space age Audio Guides were in fact completely interactive with their environment. Walk into the line of view of one of the incredibly fascinating video interviews and you’ll be immediately immersed into the video but stray too far and you’ll get caught in something completely different. Whilst listening to the interviews in the first section of the exhibition you’re able to see the likes of classic posters, records and all sorts of other interesting memorabilia the band have brought with them.
Moving forwards the exhibition brings to light the cultural implications that Floyd had. Their battle with the anarchistic arrival Punks of Sex Pistols, featuring a fantastic quote from one John Lydon who secretly admits to liking Floyd after all. Though as we’re slowly brought round to the era defining age of Ummagumma we’re motioned upwards to see where the props begin. Known for their outlandish stage shows its just the tip of the iceberg as you look up to see the model airplane that would crash into the stage, eponymous mirror ball spinner. Not before you’re motioned one of the spectacular highlights of Dark Side of The Moon. An album that still sells 7,000 copies a week, Pink Floyd’s magnum opus, the absolutely astonishing record gets its time in the limelight. “The Great Gig In The Sky” flows through your headphones and you gaze on at motion oriented design of the classic logo, create a sense of real stasis, it truly is a visceral experience.
Going forward the likes of performance and recording are brought to the fore where you can see each members various instruments, a must for the gear heads and not to mention a fantastic show of “Money” where you can mix your very own sounds of the classic track. Integral to their Progressive arch Floyd’s artwork has been cited as been almost as integral to the band as the music itself.
Forming Hipgnosis studios the legendary Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell take you through the making of some of Floyd’s most iconic album artwork and just how it was conceived in an age which didn’t allow for any digital trickery that we might have in the modern day. Some of the answers are real eye openers with a real sense of danger behind them! Its worth mentioning throughout the many interviews, you get to have a feel for each of the members personalities, picking up traits that would go onto shape their celebrity personalities, that so often clashed.
Mirroring the bands ambitions as we get to the fully fledged madness of Animals and The Wall era as the exhibition goes full scale. Following the success of Animals and Wish You Were Here, the band were catapulted into the spotlight seeing the likes of arenas calling to them. In a particularly nasty instance where Waters recalls spitting on a fan, in an instant this idea for The Wall was created. Having created a seemingly imaginary “wall” between the band and their fans the band had entered into what would be their most ambitious release to date. Not limited to an absolutely huge wall replica and a fantastic Battersea power station, the classic character of the teacher looms over the audience . Learning about Pink Floyd’s relationship with Gerald Scarfe, the man responsible for the animations that would come to be The Wall. Before moving into the sans Waters era section unearthing many mysteries, seen in the likes of A Momentary Lapse of Reason era where owing to a simple fault the genesis of their now idiosyncratic light ring came to be.
A fantastic photo opportunity, the Division Bell heads prove to be a firm crowd favourite as people congregate next to the heads before finally moving into the denouement of the beautifully crafted Endless River. Saving the best for last, after all this is Pink Floyd, you’re asked to take off your headphones, the audience is beckoned into what I shall merely call “The Performance Room”.
As screens come up, we’re shown their only reunion show at Live 8 to finish they absolutely extraordinary career. Exasperated yet infinitely inspired, Their Mortal Remains is one of the most exhilarating exhibition experiences you can have. Utilising every one of our senses throughout the journey, you positively breathe in the essence of the band. Surpassing all expectations and once again pioneering a brand new experience for their fans Pink Floyd have revolutionised themselves without even being a band. With the accolade of being one of the most inventive bands in the world, Their Mortal Remains should be seen as yet another shining achievement in the Pink Floyd legacy.
Their Mortal Remains is on at the V&A up until October 15th and I urge you, if you’re a fan of music to experience this incredible exhibition.