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David Bedford - Nurses Songs with Elephants CD (album) cover


David Bedford


Crossover Prog

2.79 | 19 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars This is probably the most experimental of all Bedford albums, as it features not only avantgardistic writing but also unusual instrumentation. For his first album, Bedford compiled some of his previously written compositions from the 60s; only the final track was specifically written for this album.

''It's Easier Than It Looks'' is set for 8 recorders and 8 melodicas and was originally written as an educational piece for children. On this recording, Bedford played all the parts himself however. In the words of the composer: ''This was written [...] using a fairly free system of notation. The players play a lot of scales, but are instructed to play as fast as they personally can play.'' While I'd love to see and hear this actually performed by children, I'm afraid I have to say that listening to a mere recording of it is considerably less fun.

''Nurses Song With Elephants'' is a piece for 10 acoustic guitars. Some of the things that happen in here go beyond what I would have thought possible to do on this instrument frankly. ''The 'elephants' of the title refers to the sound made by rubbing a wettened finger on the back of a guitar.'' After twelve minutes of highly dissonant experimentation, the piece quite unexpectedly transforms into the actual ''Nurses Song'', which is a poem by William Blake set to a surprisingly conventional backdrop of strummed guitars (that still manage to sound weird somehow), joined by Mike Oldfield playing a bass line quite reminiscent of what he used to do at the time with Kevin Ayers And The Whole World.

''Some Bright Stars For Queens College'': This is for 80 girls' voices and 30 ''whirlies'' (serrated plastic pipes that you twirl around your head to produce a natural harmonic series). These ''whirlies'' lend an interesting atmospheric touch to this short piece.

''Trona'': Another highly discordant avantgarde piece, this time for a conventional chamber ensemble (woodwinds, brass, string quartet). This is, to me, the least interesting cut on this disc as it doesn't seem to present much of anything that I haven't heard in a similar fashion from other composers.

''Sad And Lonely Faces'': Comparable to ''Nurses Song...'' in that it features a lot of discordant and experimental playing (this time from 6 pianos) before culminating in a surprisingly conventional song, for which the pianos are joined by Kevin Ayers as well as more instrumentalists. Again, not too dissimilar to The Whole World's own material.

Ayers and Oldfield fans will probably enjoy the respective ending sections of ''Nurses Song...'' and ''Sad And Lonely Faces'', but those alone hardly warrant a purchase of this album. Due to its otherwise highly avantgardistic and dissonant nature, I guess ''collectors / fans only'' hits the nail on the head.

splyu | 2/5 |


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