Reviewed by: R Brian Roser
For me, this album is very personal. I first listened to it, or rather saw the movie-length music video in the basement of a house in Berlin; a city with it’s own isolating wall surrounding it. Only recently opened, much of it had been torn down, but in more out of the way places, it was still standing. It was a city where a wall separating you from your loved ones was not a metaphor and the images of a police state invoked by the movie were not hyperbole, but an everyday occurrence on the other side of that wall. Had I tried, the previous year to walk ten miles due south of where I sat, I would have literally been shot to death. The images of fascism were doubly powerful there. Sitting all around me were the grandchildren of those who started the most destructive war in human history. They were well aware of what they had done and that their lives and achievements would forever live in the shadows of that infamy.
The Wall provides a musical journey through a battle with depression. The feelings of isolation, sadness, frustration, anger, the desperate yearning to break free, the cry for help, madness, rage and finally the catharsis of release. The music will leave you wrung out, but satisfied knowing that somebody gets it. Someone understands what you are going through. We haven’t been through everything Roger Waters has, but many will know his pain. The absent father, the smothering mother, an educational system that focuses a magnifying glass of ridicule to burn out the smallest mite of creativity, a loveless marriage and inability to connect, all lead to his desire to build a wall between himself and everything else. To be honest, my life has been spared those tragedies, but I have still felt the temptation to choose isolation over pain.
The music is grounded with several everyday sounds that take us out of the recording studio into our lives. A baby’s cry, an airplane flying overhead, the TV in the background and the lonely pulse of a phone that nobody will answer. The guitar, too takes us from lonely acoustic notes, vainly trying to fill an empty room, to the electric roar of a defiant crowd protesting in the streets. All the while the lyrics give voice to the steps of this journey. In short, there are ambient sounds to ground us, poetry to guide us and instrumentals when words are no longer sufficient.
For me, this is a very important piece of music. Not just for the powerful lyrics, although they are, or the band’s mastery of their instruments, which they have. This is why we as a society, hell why we as a species have art in the first place. To give voice and shape to the feelings too turbulent and complex to be molded into the contours of a Hallmark greeting card. This is a lantern in the dark alleys of the soul. Illuminating not just the pinnacle of our natures, but the rusted supports, buried deep in the worm-ridden earth that nevertheless provide the foundation on which our sense of self is built.