Over-familiarity is the bane of Pink Floyd (thanks to “classic rock” radio). But, like punk, the Pink Floyd sound is one of spare repetition and preciseness — “maximal minimalism.” Being famous does not have to result in compromise, or vice versa. The base rhetoric of punk is disingenuous, because it waives all notions of profit. Authenticity does not have to preclude the mainstream.
The Floyd is also less prog than prog. They’re melodic, atmospheric, and smart; sound FX by itself is not vain, nor is music that is highly structured. Prog denotes a lack of economy. It’s masturbation as both a means and an end unto itself — a home without a hearth. The Floyd is a clean mix of psychedelic pop / rock / blues, but elusive. Only when combined do the elements add up to something deep.
Both scary and fun, The Dark Side of the Moon is the ultimate album-as-composition — head music inspired by a head case. It’s not about one thing. It’s about the human condition. Moon is the aural equivalent of seeing a life flash before you, a heartbeat. And you love it: The deadpan angst is a soundtrack for the good vibes you get from bad ones.
But all roads lead back to Syd Barrett, the mad founder of the band who cracked too soon. The drive from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967) to The Final Cut (1983) is the drive from innocence to experience. In that sense, every Floyd album in between gains from the shape of their career. And, as is evident on The Dark Side of the Moon, Syd is the subject of their muse. They never got over him.