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National Health - National Health CD (album) cover

NATIONAL HEALTH

National Health

 

Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 383 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Indisputable Canterbury of a creditable standard.

National Health is a genuine surprise beginning their infamous career in 1977 when prog was beginning to wane. Their unabashed Canterbury style has made them legends in the genre and nothing can be compared to their inimitable style. A very whimsical approach is notable as are the peerless high 5 octave vocal intonations of Amanda Parsons.

Their debut album is a real delight, with some excellent musical interludes and highly memorable melodic flourishes. It begins with the fabulous 14 minute Tenemos Roads. The time sigs are odd, the musical expertise is astonishing and the lovely beauty of Amanda's angelic vocals is perfection. Dave Stewart's keyboard wizardry is a key to the overall uplifting sound. There is a distinct melody that stays with you on this one and it grooves along nicely with enough variation to keep the interest.

Borogoves (part one) is a wondrous journey of musical prowess and those trademark lalala's of that meet the music seamlessly. The track builds along with shifting metrical patterns and some delightful guitar work. The percussion of Pip Pyle is jazzy and off kilter but in perfect time with the structures. The chiming bells at the end generate a magical atmosphere. In fact Pip Pyle has a field day on this album playing all percussion including cowbell, gong, tambourine, glockenspiel, finger cymbals, shaker, bells and Pixiephone.

Elephants is an ear opener, with very weird in places especially the intro, shattered spacey tones and drones, and it builds with estranged fractured beats and time sigs, almost improvised jazz. It reminded me of experimental King Crimson or Soft Machine in places. It builds to a chiming rhythm that finally breaks into a guitar break over the repeated motif. The effect is unsettling but wonderfully experimental. This track exudes a darker soundscape due to the competing musicianship. It powers along for quite some time until a piano motif takes over. The sporadic drumming keeps an atonal rhythm and then we are treated to a keyboard passage of immeasurable quality. This instrumental is simply incontrovertible wonderful Canterbury prog. The rest of the album is Canterbury at its best. The debut for National Health is masterful musicianship with just the right amount of vocals sung beautifully to enhance the soundscapes generated. This one comes highly recommended and is deserving of its immutable reputation.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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