Deep In Space (Sigma 42)
Philipshalle, Düsseldorf, Germany – June 4th, 1971
Disc 1 (59:35): Atom Heart Mother, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun, The Embryo
Disc 2 (61:50): The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd in the summer months of 1971 were going through an interesting transition. While they were still playing their “Atom Heart Mother” epic, they were much more interested in playing their new piece, “The Return Of The Son Of Nothing.” Its debut was on May 15th at the Crystal Palace Bowl and was the centerpiece of their set on their tour of Europe.
Düsseldorf is the first show in Germany and there are two sources. Both are somewhat distant audience recordings but the second one, which is used for much of the latter half of the show, becomes very distorted during loud parts of the music. There are cuts at 5:30 in “Careful With That Axe Eugene,” at 8:30 in “The Embryo” where the second tape source is used to fill out the rest of the song, and the unkindest cut of all occurs at 3:21 in “A Saucerful Of Secrets” where the first tape ends and the second one comes in.
New Piece of Music (Ayanami-206A) on CDR is the only commercially available title with this show. Deep In Space is, unsurprisingly, the first silver pressed edition. Ayanami used the second source for “Cymbaline” and the latter half of “A Saucerful Of Secrets” but with speed issues which some collectors complained about. There is also noticeable noise reduction done to the tape to make it more listenable. On the Sigma, more of the second tape was used, specifically in “The Embryo.”
The distortion on the tape is unfortunate because it is very good performance. There is an introduction before they play “Atom Heart Mother.” Whereas when they came to Germany in February they made a big production out of this song with big choirs and brass sections, they favor the band only arrangement. It has the silly sound effects in the opening of the song and they rush through it, obviously already tired of their first epic.
“Careful With That Axe Eugene” sounds much more enthusiastic and is startling in its contrast between the slow, keyboard lead first half and the guitar driven second. Gilmour gives a good performance in “Fat Old Sun.” The recording sounds a bit odd since the song just abruptly ends.
The centerpiece obviously is “The Return Of The Son Of Nothing,” introduced under that title. At this point it still has the “space lyrics” instead of the verses that winded up in “Echoes.” The middle section hits a very nice groove where Wright plays a melodic Hammond.
The music comes to a standstill before Gilmour plays the seabirds section. They take their time as they become much more aggressive in the return to the opening theme. All of the performances of “Echoes” in this time are worth having and this is almost worth the price alone.
“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” sounds dramatic in this recording, especially after the musical launch in the middle improvisation. The audience scream wildly when Waters’ introduces “Cymbaline” (was this song a hit in Düsseldorf?) The concert ends with what sounds like a killer version of “A Saucerful Of Secrets.” The first three minutes sound fantastic as does “Celestial Voices.” It’s a shame so much of the piece is missing.
Overall Deep In Space, while is a good title, is not recommended for the casual Pink Floyd collector. The distortion and cuts are enough to discourage those who are not committed to the band. However, getting past the defects in the tape does reveal a great performance.