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David Bedford - Instructions for Angels CD (album) cover

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ANGELS

David Bedford

 

Crossover Prog

3.76 | 19 ratings

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trout.phosphor
4 stars If you had to pick just one album to showcase a 1970s analogue sequencer, which would you choose? The one that slowly goes out of tune in Tangerine Dream's 'Phaedra' might be representative of the somewhat primitive technology, but in terms of how well such a piece of equipment was ever utilised, you need look no further than 'Instructions for Angels', for it not only boasts the archetypal analogue sequencer sound, but also incorporates it in the musical texture better than anywhere else. There are times on this album when one wishes that digital synthesis had simply never happened.

'I4A' is the last of David Bedford's tetralogy for Virgin records and also the most consistent. At least (again), "side one" is. With their ingenious twists and turns, these first three tracks have a warm, mildly trippy feel, melded with a gentle and unpretentious pastoral quality, with the sequencer breaking through the textures like rays of rhythmic sunshine. They never fall foul of the crossover hubris of 'Star's End' or of the crowd-pleasing attempts of 'The Odyssey'. Nevertheless, it shares a similar malaise with one of Bedford's previous albums, namely the same running-out-of-steam that bedevilled 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. Again, it is the first half of the album, or maybe in this case up to the end of the first track of "side two" where the interest lies.

"Side two" (tracks 4-6) as a whole is a bit of a let down. 'First Came The Lion Rider' is not so bad, if a little bit lightweight. It is jolly, decorously arranged and very well played (including some lovely oboe and french horns) and with an excellent solo by Mike Ratledge, but once that fades out, the wheels really come off. The title track is just Mike Oldfield being Mike Oldfield for six tedious minutes to no purpose whatsoever. The finale (a piece written for and played by the Leicestershire Schools Orchestra), though better than that, is from another sound-world entirely. Apart from the appearance of the original theme, neither of these last two tracks seems to belong with the rest.

Rating: "side one" 5 stars; "side two" 2.5 stars

Postscript: Where to Find the Best of Bedford

'The Tentacles of the Dark Nebula' (1969) sung by Peter Pears (Decca), never released on CD, but available on YouTube

'Star Clusters, Nebulae and Places in Devon' (1971) by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Voiceprint)

'The Golden Wine is Drunk' (1974) on 'English Choral Music' by the Netherlands Chamber Choir (Globe)

'Fridiof Kennings' (1980) on 'First & Foremost' by the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (Decca)

and from the four albums for Virgin Records:

'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', part one only;

'Circe's Island' from 'The Odyssey';

and

'Instructions for Angels "side one" only.

trout.phosphor | 4/5 |

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