An exclusive press briefing held in Abbey Road Studios’ famed Studio 2 gave a powerful taste of what is come when the Victoria and Albert Museum opens the door on The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains in May.
The retrospective follows the V&A’s recent David Bowie is... and You Say You Want a Revolution? shows, and marks the 50th anniversary of the band’s first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and debut single ‘Arnold Layne’ will feature a new mix of ‘Comfortably Numb’ using Sennheiser’s Ambeo 3D technology and a full 18:3 loudspeaker set-up.
The multitrack recording is taken from the Live 8 concert where David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright played onstage with former member Roger Waters, and uses Ambeo 3D technology for a 25-speaker mix that places sound around and above the listener. The mix – like the press playback – was made in the same studio it was originally recorded in, along with the rest of Wish You Were Here and The Dark Side of the Moon.
Recording engineer Andy Jackson, who worked on several of the band’s albums including The Division Bell, collaborated on the project with Simon Rhodes and Simon Franglen, the producers behind the Ambeo mix. Rhodes is a senior engineer at Abbey Road with over 18 years’ experience of working on productions for projects including the Avatar and Spectre movies, whilst Franglen is a Grammy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated composer and producer with credits on films including Titanic and Avatar.
‘We have been using Sennheiser equipment ever since Pink Floyd started out as a live band and used the MD 409 microphones for our performances, so it is only fitting that they provide the audio experience at our exhibition,’ says drummer Nick Mason, who made a return to Abbey Road during the production of the Ambeo 3D mix, commented on the collaboration. ‘Sennheiser has been at the cutting edge of audio technology for a very long time, so we have no doubt that they will help make Their Mortal Remains something special.’
‘I can’t think of a band that is better suited to Sennheiser’s Ambeo 3D technology than Pink Floyd,’ Franglen says. ‘They pioneered surround sound in their live shows, and now Sennheiser’s 3D immersive audio pioneers a completely new experience – it allows the audience to hear every detail inside the performance. I can’t wait to see what Pink Floyd fans make of the 3D audio version when they see the exhibition.’
Along with the audio aspects of the exhibition, there is a chronological trip through Pink Floyd’s history, taking in music, art and design, sound technology and live performance. It follows the band’s beginnings on the underground club scene in 1960s London, and continues to the present day, with the support of more than 350 objects and artefacts on display. These include hand-written lyrics, musical instruments, letters, original artwork and stage props (many publicly previously unseen), alongside by objects from the V&A’s collection of art, design and performance. Some of the items had been long-held in storage facilities, studios and personal collections for more than 40 years.
The Azimuth Co-Ordinator is drwan from the V&A’s own collection – a custom-built joystick device used by Rick Wright to pan the group’s live sound around a venue, and which played an integral part in live performances at venues including the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall in the late 1960s, as well as being used in the recording of the clock montage for ‘Time’ on The Dark Side of the Moon.
The artwork for The Dark Side Of The Moon was created by Hipgnosis, the design partnership comprising exhibition co-curator Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and the late Storm Thorgerson. Hipgnosis’ work is on display throughout the exhibition, alongside artwork and stage designs created for the band by others, including Gerald Scarfe and the late Mark Fisher.
As official audio partner for The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, Sennheiser systems will be used for audio elements throughout the exhibition, including the delivery of arrangements from historic Pink Floyd documents. Sennheiser also participated in the audio systems used for the David Bowie is... and You Say You Want a Revolution? exhibitions at the V&A.
‘Pink Floyd have worked with Sennheiser and Neumann microphones throughout their career,’ observes Sennheiser Co-CEO, Daniel Sennheiser. ‘To come back to the Abbey Road studios to jointly work with the Ambeo 3D audio technology is a very special part within this collaboration.’
‘3D audio is the new frontier of sound excellence, set to transform the listening experience for users. We are very happy to bring that special audio experience to The Pink Floyd exhibition,’ adds Dr Andreas Sennheiser.
The Pink Floyd Exhibition was created in partnership with the V&A by Pink Floyd’s creative director Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell (formerly of design partnership Hipgnosis) and Paula Webb Stainton, who worked with members of Pink Floyd. The V&A curatorial team is led by Victoria Broackes, Senior Curator, with Anna Landreth Strong, Curator, Department of Theatre and Performance. The exhibition is also a collaboration with designers Stufish, the leading entertainment architects and the band’s long-serving stage designers.
The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains runs until 1 October 2017.