Rattle That Lock is the first single and the title track from David Gilmour’s new solo album – his fourth since the debut in 1978. If the song is representable for the whole album, we’re in for something fresh and new from Gilmour. Here are my thoughts about what we’ve heard and seen so far.
In the newly released EPK (electronic press kit), David talks about how he got the inspiration for the song while visiting the Aix-en-Provence railway station in France, where he heard a jingle (by Michaël Boumendil) being played over the PA system before each announcement. David recorded the four notes on his iPhone and sampled it for the song. Polly, David’s wife, wrote the lyrics inspired by John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost (1667).
The song is surprisingly stripped for guitars. Not at all what I’d expect after On an Island and Endless River. A clean strum throughout. Bits of overdrive fills here and there and the two solos.
I must be honest and say that the solos sounds uninspired and rushed and something he probably would have done for a guest appearance. I love the tone and I also love that he’s not afraid to place it high in the mix but there’s nothing interesting about the solo. Still I’m not sure what he could have done different, given the nature of the song.
In the EPK we see Gilmour in his Medina studio tweaking an elaborate pedal rack and playing his old “workmate” ’55 Fender Esquire. This footage is obviously fake – recorded for the EPK and not from the actual recording of the song (you can hear David using a pick, while he is using his fingers to pluck the strings).
Still, it’s fair to assume that he indeed used the same guitar for the actual recording. It sure sounds like a Tele being used (although the outtro solo could be a Strat – is there a term arm being used?).
Hard to tell what amp he might have employed. His studio feature a wide range of Fender amps, Alessandro, Magnatone and Hiwatts. He could have used any of these. I’m guessing maybe a Hiwatt SA212 as there is lost of presence and mids in his tone. It’s only my guess, though.
It sounds very much like a Tube Driver on the two solos and possibly the overdrive fills as well. It’s a fairly bright tone, indicating that the bass and treble controls are set high and possibly the volume as well, to drive the amp without having to use too much gain. There’s also a hint of delay added to the solo.
I’m also pretty sure that I hear the Yamaha RA200 rotary amp. There is a vague airy modulation surrounding both the overdriven rhythms guitars on the chorus and the solos – very similar to what you hear throughout Endless River.
To me, Rattle That Lock sounds like Chris Rea meets Jimmy Nail, a dash of Bryan Ferry, with a bit of 80s Gilmour thrown in. It’s no doubt that David wanted to write and produce something different and maybe his new studio has inspired some new untypical ideas? I can also hear a lot of Manzanera in the production, with hints towards both his solo work and later Roxy Music.
The drums are no doubt heavily compressed to give the song a more distinct beat and that radio flavour. This is also underlined by the loud vocals and the way the chorus spreads out from the tight verse. According to Gilmour, it’s supposed to be an uptempo pop oriented song – “I felt like dancing” he says, explaining why he liked the jingle he heard on the train station. In that sense, I think he has succeeded and he might even have a minor hit. Especially on UK radio.Whether Rattle That Lock will be a hit among the fans I’m not sure. It’s certainly not as iconic or monumental as On an Island or High Hopes.
I think it’s an exquisite production. Hopefully, the rest of the album will sound equally well. On an Island is a great album but like Division Bell, I think the production is dull and flat and they don’t stand the test of time.
A solo album is a very personal statement. This is not Pink Floyd and David doesn’t have to follow any established rules or expectations. As a musician I definitely see the value of and need to do something that represent who you are at that moment in time.On an Island had ties back to Division Bell but it also represented the new and older Gilmour who wanted to pay tribute to both his inspirations and friends. Rattle That Lock could, and probably will, be equally representative of who David Gilmour is today and where he is musically. As hard as might be to acknowledge, artists do move on. David Gilmour is also confident enough to not give a damn what people, or his fans, thinks of his music, which I only see as a good thing.
And the album artwork? Don’t like it. Seems too photoshoped and dramatic. His music fits a more modest image and I actually like the single cover better, of him and the Black Strat. Reminds me of the cover for his 1978 album.
Rattle That Lock was a surprise. I’m not disappointed – I really didn’t have any expectations – but I’m not overly excited either. Lovely production, tone and voice but it’s not a song that speaks to me or my taste of music. A bit average but I can hear David having fun and enjoying himself. Perhaps more so than on On an Island.
Rattle That Lock is co-produced by David Gilmour and Phil Manzanera and recorded in David’s new studio, Medina (Hove, UK) and at Astoria, David’s house boat on the River Thames.
The album will be released on September 18th available in five different formats, including vinyl and digital download. See Brain Damage for details on the formats, preorders and details on the announced 2016 US mini-tour.
Please feel free to use the comments field below and share your thoughts about Rattle That Lock and the new David Gilmour album!