Review – Napier’s Bones – Hell and High Water – by Emma Roebuck

Napiers Bones

Gordon Midgely and Nathan Tillet, two musicians that found each other by chance, separated by a few hundred miles from Yorkshire to Plymouth, managing to create music together via the wonders of modern technology and the interweb. Another of these types who inhabit the no label world and do it for the love and wanting the world to hear their music.

This is the third album under the designation Napier’s Bones (a mathematical calculating tool).  Both these guys have an obsession rooted in myth and fantasy, both modern and ancient.

Musically very accessible but still very complex in structure, this album is split into two very different parts. Interestingly, one suite is set in Buckfastleigh’s Holy Trinity Church and is a cautionary tale of modern technology and celebrity wandering into a supernatural nightmare for the sake of ‘light entertainment’.

3 tracks combine to tell the tale of a slip into madness, or actual Hell, all for the delight of a television audience. Musically it is full of massive keyboards and excellent guitar soloing with no detriment to the themes or the songs. Classic Prog is in the DNA of this album, in fact, it is in all of their albums. Melody and song is important to these guys as well as great technical ability.

Part 2, if you can call it that, is another suite based on the origins of Lake Semerwater in the dales of Yorkshire. There is a tale of a hermit, in actuality a Saint on his travels, seeking food and replenishment who is scorned by an entire village save one herdsman’s family. The flood as punishment and cleansing, here, is a very real theme. All save the herdsman’s family were flooded and perished.

An old tale told in four parts musically reflecting the story from the viewpoint of a minstrel in the days of Yore. Opening with Mallerstang Morning, a very folkie feeling song reflecting the minstrel’s trade and an optimistic morning. Leading into No Room at the Inn, the rejection and pleading for a chance to perform and deliver news from afar for a bed and a meal. The comical intro moves into a much sinister threatening tone using a mellotron choir and dissonant tones as the piece progresses.

The punishment and conclusion, Rain Down, musically depicts the storm with huge organ synth and guitar building the tension as the storm breaks and the rain falls to punish the tormentors. Finally A Wake In Yordale, the calm following the destruction and aftermath as the minstrel wanders off into the distance.

For all the doom and gloom this is entertaining and there is not a dull moment in the album. If you are a fan of tale telling and have Camel, Jethro Tull or Big Big Train in your collection then this album should be yours and you can get it for free or pay what you think it’s worth.

Released 18th March 2016.

Get ‘Hell and High Water’ via bandcamp

 

 

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