The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) is the debut album of Pink Floyd released on 5th August, 1967, produced by Norman Smith.
The year 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the album which is known to define the genre of psychedelic music of the ’60s with its surreal and existential lyrics bordering on whimsical childlike innocence aptly echoing works of Lewis Carroll.
The title of the album is taken from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, a classic children’s literature. In the entire album, Syd Barrett, who wrote most of the songs, overlays images drawn from fairy tales, myths and legends in striking musical harmonies that evoke the nature of a pre-industrial Britain with its pastoral setting and sounds.
The focal point of the album lies in the song Chapter 24, where Barrett blends the bucolic with the ancient Chinese overview of the cosmology as he sings “A movement is accomplished in six stages/And the seventh brings return/The seven is the number of the young light/It forms when darkness is increased by one/Change returns success/Going and coming without error/Action brings fortune/Sunset.” So, what the album helps to achieve lies much in the depth of the phrase “change returns success” which, subsequently will define the order of psychedelic movement through music with its anti-commercialism like the acts of Grateful Dead, Soft Machine or Country Joe. And as Jean Noel Coghe said “of course it takes some perseverance to listen through the 10-minute-long Interstellar Overdrive , the number which depicts the journey of a space vehicle from the traffic jams of earth’s suburbs to the infinite and the unspeakable fullness of emptiness” (Rock & Folk issue, May 1968), there is no other way than to claim that Pink Floyd’s first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn opened the “doors of perception” which Aldous Huxley popularised in his book, to blend the trivial and the sublime in a state of complete equipoise. When Barrett sings “Thunder in the other course of heaven/Things cannot be destroyed once and for all”- he actually disguises the “Dharma-Body of the Buddha which is always present at the heart of nature- in fullness and in emptiness.