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Hear Pink Floyd’s Stripped-Back ‘Learning to Fly’ Remix

Pink Floyd will break out the streamlined remix of their 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, that recently appeared on their box set, The Later Years, as its own release this fall. For the release, frontman David Gilmour and engineer Andy Jackson reconfigured the album from scratch, with help from Damon Iddins, getting rid of a lot of Eighties signposts (like ultrareverberated drums) and boosting the contributions of late Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright. It also features newly recorded drum parts by the band’s Nick Mason. The album is home to the singles “Learning to Fly,” “On the Turning Away,” and “One Slip.”

A new video for “Learning to Fly,” which was a Number One Mainstream Rock Song upon its release, showcases how they rebuilt the song into something more intimate than the original recording. The release, now called A Momentary Lapse of Reason: Remixed & Updated, will come out next month.

The physical release, out October 29th, will be available on vinyl, CD, and CD combo sets with either a DVD or a Blu-ray featuring stereo and 5.1 mixes. The LP edition will be a double-disc release cut on 45 rpm vinyl for enhanced sound. A digital version will also be available on October 19th in Sony’s new format, 360 Reality Audio, which is meant to emulate a live performance using 360-degree spatial sound, and in UHD and Dolby Audio. The band intends to present all of its albums in these formats. The “Learning to Fly” video simulates the 360 Reality Audio for anyone listening with headphones.

“Some years after we had recorded the album, we came to the conclusion that we should update it to make it more timeless, featuring more of the traditional instruments that we liked and that we were more used to playing,” Gilmour said in a statement. “This was something we thought it would benefit from. We also looked for and found some previously unused keyboard parts of Rick’s which helped us to come up with a new vibe, a new feeling for the album.”

“I think there is an element of taking the album back in time and taking the opportunity to create a slightly more open sound — utilizing some of the things we had learned from playing so much of the album live over two massive tours,” Mason said. “I enjoyed re-recording drum tracks with unlimited studio time. Momentary Lapse had been recorded under considerable stress and time constraints, and indeed some of the final mixing was done at the same time as rehearsals for the forthcoming tour. It was also nice to have an opportunity to enhance some of Rick’s work. Again, that positive tidal wave of technology just might have provided too many digital opportunities to overwhelm the band feel. Hopefully that’s one of the benefits of this remix!”

In addition to remixed audio, the release also features remixed artwork. Aubrey “Po” Powell of the design firm Hipgnosis, whose Storm Thogerson masterminded many of Pink Floyd’s iconic album covers, dug up an unused picture from the cover shoot for the project. “I was looking to update the iconic 500-beds picture my partner in Hipgnosis, Storm Thorgerson, had designed,” Powell said. “On looking through the archives I discovered a version where the sea was encroaching on the set, just before Storm shut down the shot worried he would lose all the beds. I also wanted to make something more of the microlight. There were no shots of the plane in close up, so I hunted one down that was similar but white, and had Peter Curzon retouch the fuselage with the right coloring — red —  then strip the microlight into the picture in an upfront position. David Gilmour and Nick Mason gave their approval and, voila, a fresh approach to an original favorite.”

The Blu-ray and DVD releases feature two videos for “Learning to Fly,” as well as footage from the album cover shoot. They also contain the concert screen films for “Signs of Life,” “Learning to Fly,” and “Dogs of War,” as well as an interview with Gilmour and Thorgerson and live audio from an Atlanta concert in 1987 of “The Dogs of War,” “On the Turning Away,” and “Run Like Hell.”

In a 2019 review, Rolling Stone praised the new mix. “The new Momentary Lapse doesn’t drown in Eighties reverb the way the original did (if anything, the music now sounds more tasteful with more real drumming by Nick Mason and restored Rick Wright analog synth lines) but the songs themselves aren’t any different,” the review said. “The album’s closing cut, ‘Sorrow,’ now sounds more minimal — more like how Gilmour has been doing it live in recent years — and it aches more.”

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