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Comfortably Numb

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Sci/Tech

I have fond memories of Pink Floyd, though i can't remember exactly where I put them. No rock band scattered more brains in the interstellar wind than the Floyd, whose psychotropic 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon" is still the best-selling album by a British band, ever, after spending decades on the Billboard charts.

I did my time in thrall to Pink Floyd, and had the laser-beam tan to prove it.

Some might have found it hard to connect those cosmic anarchists with the nice old English gentlemen who took the stage at Live 8 this month, reunited for the first time in 24 years. Then again, Roger Waters—the prodigal lyricist/bassist—always sounded ancient, as if he predated the Norman Conquest. Like Churchill and Tolkien, he has an ear for dire words rooted in the Old English tongue: "Far away across the field/the tolling of the iron bell/ calls the faithful to their knees/ to hear the softly spoken magic spells."

Waters and the boys pioneered the kind of musico-pharmacology we think of today as trance and ambient and chill, long and unhurried ambles through cerebral space and time. And yet Pink Floyd was never merely a soundtrack for hallucinogens. If the music was mood altering it was primarily because it was moody, and if it was transporting it was because, unlike a lot of the noodling synthesizer music of, say, Vangelis, Pink Floyd's actually went somewhere.

And if they were to try it all again today, Pink Floyd couldn't get out of a London garage.

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