back in stock and cheaper. 'obscured by clouds' is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name. directed by barbet schroeder and starring bulle ogier and jean pierre kalfon, the movie was originally known as 'la vallee'. the last in pink floyd's series of 1970s film-inspired works, 'obscured by clouds', like much of the band's music, has a cinematic feel. in retrospect, however, the album sounds like a warm-up for - or even a collection of high-quality outtakes from - floyd's next and greatest record, 'dark side of the moon'. the opening title track is the sort of proto-ambient music that pink floyd helped pioneer and, with its spooky slide guitar, sounds uncannily like some of eno's work with u2. after another instrumental, the album takes a more traditional, song-based turn and the next seven tunes cover a dizzyingly diverse array of styles. there is stomping, grand funk railroad-style hard rock and gentle ballads like 'stay' and 'burning bridges' (which recalls hendrix's 'little wing'). 'childhood's end,' a funky psychedelic number, sounds like a work-in-progress version of dark side's 'time.' david gilmour, especially, is on top form. whether creating robert fripp-esque soundscapes or blistering clapton-style blues solos, gilmour always plays for the song, effortlessly walking the thin line between guitar hero and ensemble musician. throughout, the band weaves a beautiful, yet decidedly un-flashy, tapestry of sound that makes for a subtle, varied, and ultimately essential pink floyd album.