Perfect Musical Nonsense: Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals…”

One of the first Pink Floyd albums I ever owned was the Works compilation. It was a good primer for the early history of the band, in that it had a couple of songs I would hear on the radio, and also some real gems I was less familiar with. I loved the cheery doom of “Free Four” and the sheer beauty of “Fearless (Interpolating You’ll Never Walk Alone).”

The one that made me particularly gleeful was a Roger Waters creation I would later find originally appeared on the 1969 album Ummagumma. The double album features one disc of the band playing together live and one disc for which they went their separate ways and recorded solo creations.

One of Waters’s creations was this collection of noises, all created with the voice, or by tapping the microphone, or other means, called “Several Species of Small Furry Animal Gathered Together In a Cave and Grooving With a Pict.” There are no musical instruments on the track. Waters sped up tape loops of himself singing, chanting, and tapping the microphone to produce this churning rhythm and unhinged animal sounds.

It was like falling into a warren where some primitive rave was taking place. It’s not even necessarily a song. It’s more like the soundtrack to a place you would never think of going. And just as you’re getting into the groove, bouncing to the chipmunks singing “Chokka-chew-cowmba… whee!” there comes another element. A man (Ron Geesin, with whom Waters would soon after collaborate on Music From The Body) blurting in a barely comprehensible Scottish brogue. He’s the only other human at this rave, and he’s a tad difficult to relate to.

I would play this song on my radio show in college at SUNY Buffalo, and only hope that it caught a few people delightfully off their guard. Sometimes I would try to sing along with the brogue, especially when it got to the capper, “And thee wind cried Marruh.” Some people bounce around the house dusting singing “Walking On Sunshine.” I have this. And I assume Les Claypool spent some seminal moments also singing along with this track, too.

And if you’ve got a couple of extra minutes, here’s the track slowed down.

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