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David Bedford - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner CD (album) cover

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

David Bedford

 

Crossover Prog

3.33 | 26 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars The least we can say is that Bedford's "rock adventures" with the Ayers & Oldfield crowd are certainly not representative of his own solo works, as his NSWE and Star's End albums have shown us so far. To be honest, his orchestral re-working of Olfield's Tubular Bells (a major commercial success) is no less representative of it either, and it's certainly not the present ambitious project of an adaptation of the famous poem from Samuel Taylor Coleridge (into two movements, one aside), which gives its name to the present album. With Bedford playing most of the instruments himself, save Oldfield's guitar parts and the vocals (narration and others), this album is slightly easier of access to more mainstream progheads, but still dissonant enough to discourage many of them, although the discordant tone or dissonances are not very pronounced, compared to his previous works. A vry XIXth Century graving artwork graves the album's sleeve, the whole thing released on Branson's Virgin label.

The opening movement is the more difficult half of David's adaptation, often bordering on the discordant and dissonant, with many keyboards interlocking and/or clashing, and Oldfield's strident guitar twitches adding a certain kind of eeriness to the ghostly ambiance. The narration goes on through the album no matter how the gentle or dissonant the musical backdrop is, and even gets magnified by the dramatic dynamics around the second third of the movement, adding a bit more speed to a generally very slow album. The closing movement starts on a few verses before entering a slow church-organ-lead, later joined by Oldfield's gentle guitar and later a female choir taking things ever so gently on the grandiose and lyrical side (despite a certain amount of cheesiness), despite keeping a slightly-dissonant feel throughout most of the movement.

I believe that Bedford's adaptation of Oldfield's TB album attracted him a lot f attention and that, as a result, this album sold lots more than it would've normally, but I'm not sure many mainstream music buffs appreciated it to its just value. Those who actually like narration albums, like Wakeman's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, might actually love this album, and if not nearly as cheesy as the latter, it's definitely more challenging because of the light dissonance.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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