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David Bedford - Star's End CD (album) cover

STAR'S END

David Bedford

 

Crossover Prog

3.11 | 18 ratings

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splyu
3 stars Despite the involvement of Mike Oldfield on guitar and bass and Chris Cutler on percussion, this is far from being a prog album; rather, it is a full-blown orchestral avantgarde piece. In the understanding of the music on this disc, it is perhaps helpful to know that Bedford originally intended the title to be ''Heat Death of the Universe''; this was changed by request of Virgin boss Richard Branson, who didn't want the word 'death' in an album title.

There is very little here in the way of melody, and a lot of dissonance. On the first side, harmonies tend to swell up only occasionally, seeming to suggest that something more lyrical might be following, but it never does. There is some fascinating interaction between Oldfield and the orchestra, but Oldfield completely goes along with the avantgarde nature of this piece, most of the time playing an undistorted guitar and bass in a rather non-tonal manner. That is, until the end of side one, where we come across a huge eruption of timpani and brass topped off by an Oldfield completely let loose, playing his typical lead guitar in the wickedest fashion he's capable of. For Oldfield fans, this is easily the highlight of the whole disc, and most of them will actually be familiar with it already via the excerpt from the ''Boxed'' compilation.

The second part is a bit different; here, we have a lot more in the way of harmony, if not exactly melody. Make no mistake though, it's still avantgarde music, but perhaps more reminiscent of the earlier avantgardists like Bartók or Stravinski than of the modern, completely dissonant variety that dominates much of side one. Oldfield continues his interplay with the orchestra and has another, very short but thrilling, lead guitar moment towards the end of the piece.

If there is anything particularly noteworthy from Chris Cutler to be found here, I am probably not familiar enough with his style to detect it; rather, he seems to blend in with the orchestra completely, acting merely like a regular orchestral percussionist would in such a context.

Like I said, this is simply not a prog album, and it's difficult to discuss, much less rate it in this context. I find it to be an interesting listen, particularly from the ending section of side one onwards. Oldfield fans already have the ''Excerpt from Star's End'', and there's really no reason for them to get this album unless they have to have absolutely everything Mike ever played on. If you have a taste for classical avantgarde music, on the other hand, you might actually really like this album, as I find it to be very well thought-out and certainly not just ''a heap of random noises''.

splyu | 3/5 |

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