Every so often an album is released and you turn it on, only to later shout out loud to whoever will listen: “Where has this band been my entire life?”
That’s the feeling I get midway through the opening track on Okta Logue‘s new studio album, ‘Tales of Transit City‘. This is, I believe, what Pink Floyd would’ve sounded like in 2013 had original singer Syd Barrett never left the band.
Other bands such as MGMT and the Flaming Lips have attempted the late 60′s Pink Floyd sound with varying results, but this group from Frankfurt, Germany, have perfected the ideal Pink Floyd album for 2013.
Okta Logue is made up of Benno Herz, Phillip Meloi, Nicolai Hildebrandt, and Robert Herz, but in all seriousness, this is the album Pink Floyd fans have been waiting for since 1994′s ‘The Division Bell’, and before that 1968′s ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ which saw the departure of Syd Barrett. It has all the creativeness and spark that Floyd’s debut masterpiece, ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, had in 1967, only with an updated sound. I would bet anything that the members of the German band were fans of Pink Floyd, the Velvet Underground, and Vanilla Fudge. I also hear hints of the first few Yes albums as well as the Fleet Foxes, but mostly early Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.
The CD itself is a throwback to the days of deluxe packaging with a huge poster fold-out of the album cover, with liner notes and lyrics accompanying it. These features make me remember the era in which vinyl ruled supreme, and we sat with our headphones on and sang along with the lyric sheet. Part of that fun is missing from the typical audio files instead of setting down the needle and hearing those familiar crackles, and .jpg files instead of foldout lyric sheets.
With this new release, you will want to sing along and memorize every song by the first time through. None of the tracks are filler, and each is crafted to stand out on its own. By the third song, if someone could bring Syd Barrett back from the great beyond and hand him a copy of ‘Tales of Transit City’, I’m sure he would’ve given it as big of a thumbs up as I am.
The opening track “Transit” is the crown jewel here; an epic 7 minute song that must be played in the dark through headphones to be appreciated fully: It’s a tour-de-force showcasing each of the four members and all their talents, along with some retro 80′s sounding keyboards welcoming the listener. I also hear subtle hints of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in both the guitar tone and organs used throughout.
This is one of those songs that will have you hitting the repeat button time and time again. How the guitarist is able to channel in David Gilmour’s epic ‘Brain Damage’ guitar sound and solo is remarkable, and as the song drops in tempo the entire piece fades into a section uncannily similar to “Breathe (Reprise)”. This is soon followed up with a percussion/keyboard heartbeat which again mirrors the classic Floyd album.
“Mr Busdriver” again explores 1968 Pink Floyd territory. Pink Floyd keyboardist/singer Rick Wright would sound at home singing this one: a simple 3 minute English sounding pop song which leads us to “Dream On”, and returns us to those unignorable Flaming Lips similarities. The difference here is these songs are not as abstract as the Flaming Lips, instead they are catchy and addicting. The intriquite piano playing reminds me instantly of Pink Floyd’s “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”, and now I’m wanting to pull out my copy of ‘Atom Heart Mother’.
“Let Go” is the greatest song The Zombies never recorded. It screams of mid 60′s pop and psychedelia. “Chase the Day” is another slow paced anthem, but ends with a huge production-style sing-along that would not seem out of place on a Paul McCartney & Wings album.
“Judith” and “Cats in the Alley” continue the late 60′s Pink Floyd vibe, perhaps a little too much. Often times during this album when the singer isn’t within the mix you will swear that is actually is Pink Floyd. Okta Logue has copied Floyd’s instantly recognizable drum sound, keyboard playing and Gilmour’s guitar tone almost perfectly, and end up succeeding in creating the one Syd Barrett-fronted Pink Floyd album that never existed.
‘Tales of Transit City’ is truly a 5 star album. While the resemblance between these new songs and those which already populate Pink Floyd’s now classic catalog is uncanny, they pull off the homage with such class that it seems like Okta Logue, just like I am, are still waiting for that “new” Floyd album to arrive from the three surviving members. After getting impatient themselves, it’s as though the members of Okta Logue took to the classic records to create a new album which effortlessly embodies the Pink Floyd sound.