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Dave Greenslade - From The Discworld CD (album) cover

FROM THE DISCWORLD

Dave Greenslade

 

Crossover Prog

3.21 | 11 ratings

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Joolz
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like his previous album, 1978's The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony, From The Discworld is not a concept album as such. Instead of a cohesive narrative, Greenslade has chosen to interpret isolated people, places or things contained within the 'Discworld' novels of Terry Pratchett. These are presented as self-contained snapshots, mostly delightful shortish mood pieces [three with some very short narration] plus a couple of songs, played entirely by Greenslade using keyboards and sequencers except for a contribution on guitar by Clem Clemson.

You can enjoy the music on a superficial level but it will make little sense unless you are familiar with the Discworld novels. Terry Pratchett has a very fertile imagination and intelligence with which he cleverly constructs an alternative universe centred around The Disc and its multifarious creatures occupying various levels of time and dimension. It is a mirror world of magic and satire, with brilliant believable characterisations, wrapped up in a very funny narrative [Death is hilarious].

Greenslade's music successfully evokes the essence and humour [yes, the humour is there if you know where to look] of the characters with understanding, if you use a little imagination. From The Discworld has a far more adventurous and varied orchestration than Pentateuch, an accomplished depiction of a wide range of moods and settings. Usually this is achieved suggestively, ingeniously using mood and feel to enable the listener to construct appropriate mental images.

I shall mention a few personal favourites. The opener, depicting the giant A-Tuin The Turtle elegantly paddling across the cosmos, and a spooky Wyrd Sisters conjuring images of three witches meddling in affairs of state [including Granny Weatherwax's reluctant broomstick], are both wonderfully evocative atmospheric pieces. DEATH rides across the land on his horse Binky [represented by a spaghetti western style trumpet], dark and menacing yet always ready with a comforting merry quip. The spirits of trees, Dryads, are at once eerie and scary yet beautiful and majestic in another slow atmospheric piece infiltrated by minor chords.

The dreadnoughts of time, stately Pyramids which harness magic, metaphorically stride out across the landscape as the ghost of an old pharaoh wishes he were dead. Close your eyes and they really are there, flaring-off their excess into the night. The One Horseman And Three Pedestrians Of The Apocralypse (sic) [don't ask! if you need to know, read The Sourcerer (sic)] uses scurrying strings to depict them racing across the plains, wind in their, erm, hair, then stopping for a quick one at the Mended Drum. I must make a special mention of a sing-a-long nonsense song, the traditional Ankh-Morpork drinking song A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End.

The music of From The Discworld is fine within its limitations, but some of the ideas lack progression, sometimes too short and under-developed. Also, Greenslade has attempted a 'symphonic' effect on many tracks by emulating sections of an orchestra using generic and unconvincing samples. While the digital revolution enabled him to progress from the simpler synthesizer patterns of Pentateuch, the instruments' synthetic nature is readily apparent.

Had he employed a real orchestra, From The Discworld would probably have received an unqualified recommendation. As it is, Terry Pratchett's fans [especially those with children] will probably adore this. For others, though, it is an excellent choice for some light listening when you wish to switch off your brain, though hardly essential Prog!

Joolz | 3/5 |

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