Obscured by Clouds

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This article is about the soundtrack. For the film, see La Vallée (film). For the title track, see Obscured by Clouds (instrumental).
Obscured by Clouds
Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds.jpg
Studio album / Soundtrack album by Pink Floyd
Released 2 June 1972[1]
Recorded 23–29 February and 23 March–6 April 1972,
Studio Strawberry Studios, Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, Île-de-France, France[2]
Genre Progressive rock
Length 40:30
Language English
Producer Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd chronology
Obscured by Clouds
The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd soundtracks chronology
Zabriskie Point
Obscured by Clouds
Pink Floyd – The Wall
Singles from Obscured by Clouds
  1. "Free Four"
    Released: 3 June 1972

Obscured by Clouds is the seventh studio album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, based on their soundtrack for the French film La Vallée, by Barbet Schroeder. Some copies of the album refer to the film by its English title, The Valley. The cover of Obscured by Clouds is an out-of-focus film still of a man in a tree. The lyrics and music tell the story of one's journeys. The album was released in the United Kingdom on 2 June 1972, and a few weeks later in the United States, by Harvest, reaching number 6 and number 46 respectively. A single, "Free Four", was issued in the US only.


By 1972, Pink Floyd had supplied the soundtracks to the films The Committee (1968) and More (1969),[3] and to part of Zabriskie Point (1970). Consequently, Barbet Schroeder asked the band to create the soundtrack for La Vallée, which they had agreed to do after More had become a success.[4] The group had already started working on The Dark Side of the Moon at this point, having done some basic recording and performed the piece live several times, but work was interrupted when the band travelled to France on two separate trips, either side of a Japanese tour, to write and record music for the film.[5] The album was then mixed from 4–6 April at Morgan Sound Studios in London.[2]

As they had done on More, the band saw a rough cut of the film, and noted down certain timings for cues with a stopwatch. From this, they created a number of pieces that they felt could be cross-faded at various points in the final cut of the film. They weren't too worried about creating complete songs, feeling that any musical piece would be workable without the need for any solos, but nevertheless, under pressure to produce enough material, they managed to create a whole series of well-structured songs.[3] Drummer Nick Mason recalls that the sessions were very hurried, and the band spent most of the time in Paris locked away in the studio.[4]

"Free Four" was the first Pink Floyd song since "See Emily Play" to attract significant airplay in the US,[6] and the second (after "Corporal Clegg" from A Saucerful of Secrets)[7] to deal with the death of Eric Fletcher Waters, Roger Waters' father.[6][8] "Childhood's End" was the last song Pink Floyd released to have lyrics written by David Gilmour, the band's guitarist, until the release of A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987.[citation needed] "Absolutely Curtains", the closing instrumental on the album, ends with a recording of the Mapuga tribe, as seen in the film.[5]

During the first recording session in February 1972, the French television station ORTF filmed a short segment of the band recording the album, including interviews with Waters and Gilmour.[2] In a snippet of interview footage that appeared in the 1974 theatrical version (later released on VHS and Laserdisc) and subsequent "Director's Cut DVD" versions of Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii, Waters stated that early UK pressings of the album contained excessive sibilance (a loud high-frequency sound most apparent on "s", "sh", and "t" sounds which often causes distortion). As Waters says in the film, the sibilant distortion was caused by "a bad cut", meaning it came from a poor quality tape-to-disk transfer during mastering. The sibilance problem was corrected in later pressings.

Obscured by Clouds was the second Pink Floyd album to feature the VCS 3 synthesizer as stated by EMS Archives.[9] Mason also plays electronic drums on the title track.[4]

After recording had finished, the band fell out with the film company, prompting them to release the soundtrack album as Obscured by Clouds, rather than La Vallée. In response, the film was retitled La Vallée (Obscured by Clouds) on its release.[4]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau C[11]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[12]
MusicHound 1/5[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[14]

The album's cover was, like several other Pink Floyd albums, designed by Hipgnosis. It consists of a photograph of a man sitting in a tree which has been taken out of focus to the point of complete distortion. Obscured by Clouds was released in the UK on 2 June 1972 and then in the United States on 15 June 1972, both on Harvest. The album reached number one in France,[15] number six on the UK Albums Chart,[16] and number 46[17] on the US albums chart (where it was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1997).[18] In 1986, the album was released on CD. A digitally remastered CD was released in March 1996 in the UK and August 1996 in the US. It was remixed in 2016 by Sony Music exclusively for the Early Years box set.

Live performances[edit]

Pink Floyd opened some shows in 1973 with an extended jam based on the pairing of "Obscured by Clouds" and "When You're In", accompanied by smoke and a light show.

"Childhood's End" is the only other song from the soundtrack to find its way to the stage. It made several appearances in Europe starting on 1 December 1972 and at the start of the band's March 1973 tour of North America, usually with an extended instrumental passage.

"Wot's... Uh, the Deal?" saw revival as part of Gilmour's set list during his 2006 solo tour. One of these performances features on Gilmour's 2007 DVD Remember That Night and also the vinyl version of his 2008 live album, Live in Gdańsk.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Obscured by Clouds" Gilmour, Waters Instrumental 3:03
2. "When You're In" Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason Instrumental 2:18
3. "Burning Bridges" Wright, Waters Gilmour, Wright 3:29
4. "The Gold It's in the..." Gilmour, Waters Gilmour 3:07
5. "Wot's... Uh the Deal?" Gilmour, Waters Gilmour 5:08
6. "Mudmen" Wright, Gilmour Instrumental 4:20
Total length: 21:37
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
7. "Childhood's End" Gilmour Gilmour 4:31
8. "Free Four" Waters Waters 4:15
9. "Stay" Waters, Wright Wright 4:05
10. "Absolutely Curtains" Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason Instrumental, chant by Mapuga tribe 5:52
Total length: 18:43


Pink Floyd
Additional personnel

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Povey, Glenn (2006). "Playing Different Tunes 1972–1973". Echoes : The Complete History of Pink Floyd (New ed.). Mind Head Publishing. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-9554624-0-5. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Povey, Glenn (2006). "Playing Different Tunes 1972–1973". Echoes : The Complete History of Pink Floyd (New ed.). Mind Head Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-9554624-0-5. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Manning, Toby (2006). "The Albums". The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 164. ISBN 1-84353-575-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d Mason, Nick (2004). "There Is No Dark Side". Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd (New ed.). Widenfeld & Nicolson. p. 164. ISBN 0-297-84387-7. 
  5. ^ a b Povey, Glenn (2006). "Playing Different Tunes 1972–1973". Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd (New ed.). Mind Head Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-9554624-0-5. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Manning, Toby (2006). "The Albums". The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 165. ISBN 1-84353-575-0. 
  7. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  8. ^ Mason, Stewart. Song review at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  9. ^ Hinton, Graham. "EMS: The Inside Story – The Users". Electronic Music Studios. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Album review at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Album: Pink Floyd: Obscured by Clouds". Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  12. ^ McCormick, Neil (20 May 2014). "Pink Floyd's 14 studio albums rated". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  13. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 872. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2 November 2004). "Pink Floyd: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, Fireside Books. Archived from the original on 17 February 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Infodisc – Pink Floyd – Obscured By Clouds". www.infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Pink Floyd | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Pink Floyd – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Pink Floyd. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  18. ^ a b "American album certifications – Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 June 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  19. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 233. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  20. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4171." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  21. ^ "LP Top 10, July 3, 1972". Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  24. ^ "British album certifications – Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 June 2016.  Enter Obscured by Clouds in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search

External links[edit]