PINK FLOYD - THE ENDLESS RIVER

This reclamation project is admirable, but even labelling it that is ultimately reductive. Admiration for something that had to be modified in order to function isn’t going to suffice on its own. We need to understand how these things have come to be – was this the best possible outcome? Does it stand as a fitting tribute to its source material, as well as the time in which it was originally conceived? Most importantly of all, does it now diminish the importance of what came before?

We need to understand these things because we are selfish. These things were made for us, and no one else. We deserve to pick over the bones of what has been presented to us and decide whether we deem it worthy of our time. There’s the future to think of, after all. We are both its guardians and its chauffeurs and our opinion matters, damn it.

It’s the sort of conclusion that can only come from those who have had no sort of involvement in the creative process that led to the finished product being unveiled to the world. There will have been compromises every step of the way; compromises that birthed sleepless nights and fruitless arguments with those who care equally for the project yet challenge every thought from every mouth. These things are invisible upon our inspection, but indelible to everyone whose suggestions were shot down. In turn, those are the things that arrive unbidden every time they see anything bearing its final name.

Although there are indisputably things here that can be deemed new or original, it’s impossible to create something memorable from the remains of something so important to so many. We can only see the absence of creativity where we should laud tribute and sensitivity – we understand why it needed to be done, and appreciate the care that went into curating its existence and renewed value, but we cannot love it. I, in particular, (for this is really about me) cannot love it. Its past weighs too heavy on its new frame and the fanfare that announced its arrival rings hollower with each repetition of its theme. There’s nothing comfortable about the way the new sits with the old; nothing redemptory about a project for which we should be forever thankful. It’s a collection of fragments that cannot possibly coalesce; both wonderful and stilted upon the landscape. The modern pieces will fail before their historic skeleton and the difference in quality will be thrown into stark relief against the majestic confidence of what once was. Everything previously considered lost has been saved, but at the expense of how we always imagined its rescue. Too much time has passed between then and now, and too many things collapsed in the interim.

The important thing is that it exists, and will continue to do so. That is faint praise, but it is spoken with genuine gratitude. The preservation of history is too significant to abandon, and grafting modern ideas to old settings is exactly how this project should have been addressed. It was a task destined for damnation as much as celebration and I must credit its creators for finally doing what should have been done a long time ago. Whether I like it is immaterial, but now that its safety seems assured, I can never look upon Battersea Power Station with the same reverence again.

Wait... what did you think I was talking about?