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David Bedford - The Odyssey CD (album) cover

THE ODYSSEY

David Bedford

 

Crossover Prog

3.24 | 27 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

splyu
5 stars This is certainly Bedford's most accessible and prog album, and the one I'd advise Mike Oldfield fans and prog fans in general to start their exploration of Bedford's music with.

The album has a distinctly 70s prog feel to it, while still noticably written by someone with a classical / avantgarde background. Synthesizers and Solina Strings abound, beautifully complemented by orchestral instruments and choir. Mike Oldfield lends his unmistakable guitar tone to two tracks. (Intriguingly, Andy Summers, later of The Police, plays on another.) There is no drum kit, only orchestral percussion.

As the title suggests, the album is a musical retelling of the well-known Homeric epic. A lot of the album is rather tranquil, dreamy in mood; the exceptions are the somewhat more lively The Phaeacian Games and The Battle In The Hall. The former will be known to most Oldfield fans through the Collaborations part of the Boxed compilation. I must admit I'm finding it hard to describe the music on this disc; the best I can offer is that it does indeed convey the atmosphere of a story from long, long ago, set in a world very different from that known to us.

The album starts off with an interesting sonic experiment, an ascending scale that never seems to get anywhere, representing the continuous weaving and unweaving of the shroud by Penelope. Next comes the introduction of the album's main theme, a dreamy tune suggesting the unfortunate event that drives Odysseus' ships away from Ithaca, far across the sea. This tune is to reappear several times throughout the album.

The Sirens bears a certain similarity to the final track from Gustav Holst's famous Planets suite, Neptune, the Mystic, in its choral arrangement. (In fact, there's an even stronger similarity with a much lesser known Holst piece, Hymn to the Waters from the Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda.) Here, Oldfield's playing is much more restrained and adds to the piece very effectively.

The final track, The Battle in the Hall, adds an element of vigour and aggression that is largely absent from the rest of the album, providing a climax before a fittingly triumphant conclusion as Odysseus defeats the suitors.

All in all, I definitely consider this album a masterpiece, if a somewhat oddball one. For what it is, I find it to be flawless and therefor deserving of the high rating. It is however certainly an acquired taste. Oldfield fans really should check it out, particularly those that love Hergest Ridge and Incantations. It has an identity all of its own, however. Symphonic Prog fans who can see themselves enjoying an album that is pretty much tranquil throughout, yet manages to keep you interested at all times, should also consider giving it a try.

splyu | 5/5 |

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