Embryo (Pink Floyd song)


Embryo (Pink Floyd song)

Song_infobox
Name = Embryo


Artist = Pink Floyd
Album = Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air
Released = 1970
track_no = 11
Recorded = 1968
Genre = Psychedelic rock, Progressive rock
Length = 4:39
Writer = Roger Waters
Label = Harvest Records (UK)
Producer =
prev = "Mother Dear"
prev_no = 2 of side A
this = "Embryo"
track_no = 3 of side A
next = "Twisted Track"
next_no = 4 of side A

"Embryo" (sometimes called "The Embryo") is a song by Pink Floyd. It was a concert staple for a time but has long since been omitted. It was never released on a Pink Floyd studio album but did appear in greatly shortened form on the compilation "Works" in 1983 and also on a rare multi-artist album entitled "Picnic - A Breath of Fresh Air".

History

The studio version of the song, recorded in 1968, was a quiet, almost acoustic piece sung by David Gilmour which lasted four minutes and thirty-seven seconds. The song ends with an organ solo and high-pitched vocal gibberish (with bassist Roger Waters having sped his voice up, much like he did on Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict). This studio take has not appeared on any Floyd album except Works, an American compilation. The only time anything similar to the studio version was played live (as opposed to the larger version) was December 2, 1968 at the BBC.Fact|date=September 2007

Live performances

The earliest known instance of Embryo played live was January 16, 1970, in Croydon. It was far larger than the studio take, lasting twelve minutes. It more closely resembled the studio take in arrangement, with Gilmour imitating the acoustic rhythm guitar and Wright playing the piano and organ parts on the vibraphone. It closed with a reprise of the first verse.

The next instance of the song being played was February 11, 1970, in Birmingham. By then it had reached the stage at which it would remain for the rest of its existence. It lasted twelve minutes, but Wright moved from the vibraphone back to the Hammond organ, Gilmour played a distinct lead part (making the arrangement less soft and more like a rock song), and as well as a reprise added a new section of music in the middle of the song. After the second verse Roger Waters opened up the jam section with a simple bass ostinato playing the blues scale (higher e, d, b, a sharp, a, g, lower b, lower d, lower e, g, lower e, g). In lieu of Roger Waters' chirping on the studio version, a tape machine from the soundboard played a recording of children playing as the band continued to jam. Near the end of the section, David Gilmour created the famous "whalesong" effect (by reversing the cables on his wah pedal). This effect would appear much more prominently and famously in Echoes, a year later.

On some occasions, for various reasons, the "children" tape was not played. This was usually replaced with Roger Waters making various squeaks and squeals into his reverberated vocal mic (similar to those in Careful with That Axe, Eugene).

This song was played in most shows from February 11, 1970, to November 20, 1971 (= last date of the 1971 North American Tour).

In 1971, after the addition of Echoes (or, as it was first called, The Return Of The Son Of Nothing), The Embryo lost the "whalesong" effect, although it remained twelve minutes long (the "children" tape was filled with more jamming).A good example for the later version of "Embryo" can be heard on the "Tour 73" bootleg. It was probably recorded in September 1971. The tape effects and echoed voices are completely withdrawn. Rick Wright plays a bluesy organ whilst David Gilmour produces a lot of processed background guitar textures with heavy use of volume pedal and binson echo units. For casual listeners these sounds can be hardly identified as guitar-like.

Including the early vibraphone-led 2.11.70 version, a handful of versions of The Embryo have appeared during the era in which it was played. One notable version played approximately three times began with another ten-minute improvised instrumental for which no title exists (it is often referred to as "The Librest Spacement Monitor" (a misinterpretation of Waters saying "Nicholas Mason on the drums"), Corrosion, or is assumed to be part of the jam section from Interstellar Overdrive). On one occasion this was followed by a loud rant by Waters consisting of mostly-indistinguishable words in a thick Scottish accent (another element of Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict). Only after this did a regular version of Embryo begin.

The last time Embryo was played, on November 20 1971, the middle jam-section was interrupted when Wright's Hammond suddenly failed. Instead of stopping and waiting for the instrument to be repaired, the remaining three members of the band continued to jam for an extra fifteen minutes. This improvised jam included elements of other Pink Floyd songs, most notably what appears to be an instrumental version of Breathe (from Dark Side of the Moon, not to be written for another two months) as well as the intro to Raving And Drooling (played in 1974 and 1975 before being finished in the form of Sheep) and a rough Any Colour You Like.

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