Garden Music Project – Inspired by Syd Barrett’s Artwork (2014)

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As strange as this cross-discipline tribute might seem — like dancing about architecture, really — the Garden Music Project’s musical musings based on the artwork of Syd Barrett actually get to the heart of his elliptical muse.

You hear, for instance, his standard-issue psychedelic innocence on the album-opening “Garden” and album-closing “Self-Portrait,” but there was always more to Barrett — even if his early exit and weird post-Pink Floyd existence seemed to turn him forever into a blissed-out man-child caricature. Instead, Barrett’s work held no small amount of danger, at its bottom, and plenty of very un-hippie-fied pathos. Inspired by Syd Barrett’s Artwork captures that roiling undercurrent within the dissonant portent of “Crime Scene” and the desperate complexity of “Tour Bus.”

Giving that side of Barrett’s roiling personality its due, the side that perhaps drove him deeper into his own head even as Pink Floyd began to find fame, ultimately adds a new profundity to moments like “Transformation” — if you’re wondering how Barrett would have dealt with early-1970s free-form fusion, this is it — and the charmingly bucolic “My Ladies.”

Only the stilted “Squares, Lines & Polygons,” which seems to have taken the album’s central premise too much to heart, falls flat. More often, Garden Music Project — led by principal composer Adriana Rubio and vocalist Alexander Ditzend — plays like the very best tributes should: Not so much as an easy replication but instead as a canny amplification of the subject matter. Inspired by Syd Barrett’s Artwork may take an unusual path, but it gets there all the same.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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