International Musikforum, Ossachersee, Congress Center Villach, Stiftshoff, Ossiach, Austria – July 1, 1971
Disc 1 (57:54) Introduction / Tune Up, The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, Tune Up, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Tune Up, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Disc 2 (64:11) Tune Up, Atom Heart Mother (w/ brass and choir), Tune Up*, Atom Heart Mother (w/ brass and choir)* Different Source
Ossiach is a small community located on the southern shore of Lake Ossiach and nestled in the Nock Mountains. When I did a basic internet search the pictures that populated where filled with beautiful picturesque settings, tranquil and peaceful. The small town has hosted a summer music festival for some time, with a focus on classical and jazz orchestras, a perfect setting for the lush and expansive music of Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd’s performance there in the summer of 1971 was unique as “pop” groups were not asked to perform, this festival was different as not only the Floyd played but the electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream were also in the line up. That some enterprising young fan traveled down to see and record the Pink Floyd is something I find quite interesting, Germany and Austria had been very good to the band throughout their early growth years and we own a huge thanks to the fans that provided so many wonderful recordings.
The recording itself is an audience source, the quality is very good, a bit distant yet clear and atmospheric yet does have noticeable hiss. The recording has seen a few prior releases, Nothing Parts 1 to 24 (Highland HL-609/610) came out 15 years ago and more recently Ossiach Festival 1971 (Sigma 83) was released with improved sound quality. I pulled my copy of the Sigma title out and gave it a spin. I find that this new title from Peach is very similar to the Sigma title, if anything it is slightly louder and maybe just a tiny bit clearer although with louder volume comes increases in the hiss level. The festival was broadcast on Austrian radio as well as coverage on the Bayerischer Rundfunk TV channel but it is unknown if either contained the Floyd. A triple LP of the festival, Ossiach Live (BASF4921119-3) was released later in the year but Pink Floyd did not appear due to contractual reasons.
Since it was a festival and keeping in the spirit, the band would only perform a 90 minute set made up of their more long form pieces. Another thing you can expect is lengthy tune ups, a norm for this period. The band takes the stage and tune up and finally Roger introduces the first song, The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, soon to become known as Echoes. It has the early lyrics of planets meeting face to face and all that Space Rock dribble. You get a feel for the acoustics of the venue by listening to Mason’s drums, you can hear them crisp and a bit hollow sounding in the small theatre. The stage is small and the band were pushed forward a bit to accommodate the Brass and Choir ensemble that would accompany the group during Atom Heart Mother. The funky section of The Return Of The Son Of Nothing is nice, the seabird and Richard Wright’s soundscape is really good as well.
The audience, although a bit chatty, are familiar with the Floyd’s repertoire and give Careful With That Axe, Eugene a nice ovation, the version is straight forward and typical for 1971. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is very expansive, the synergy between musicians is perfect with a very focused performance of the piece, again with Gilmour’s fiery guitar and Wright’s incredible array of keyboards all put to good use.
The weight of the performance falls upon Atom Heart Mother, this is a somewhat rare version as it features a Brass and Choir accompaniment. What is unique to this new release is what is refereed to as a different source, that is a bit of a misnomer. It is the same recording just a different generation of tape. One only needs to listen to the audience sounds as they are exactly the same. The sound is clean of hiss but is flat sounding and lacks the dynamics of the rest of the tape, yet does not sound like noise reduction. This concert is known for the performance of Atom Heart Mother, the brass is nicely placed in the live mix and is one of the better versions of the song.
The packaging is a mini LP sleeve that features pictures from the event on the cover and CD sleeves that ties the set together nicely. The insert has no liner notes but instead has a listing of all known 1971 concert dates. The CD’s are adorned with a take on the Harvest LP labels, very cool. Another attractive Pink Floyd set by Eat A Peach.