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Mike Oldfield - Discovery CD (album) cover

DISCOVERY

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.77 | 164 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The reaction from the progressive community (and OLDFIELD fandom) to this album was strongly negative. Following hard on the heels of the immensely successful 'Crises', with its worldwide hit 'Moonlight Shadow', this album definitely has 'follow-up' and even 'cash-in' written over it.

But I want to invite you to go just a little further into the music. On this album OLDFIELD repeats his traditional habit of reprising his main theme; this time, the theme featured on 'To France'. This lifts the album beyond a mere collection of unrelated pop songs. Aware of the critics sharpening their knives, OLDFIELD hired BARRY PALMER as well as MAGGIE REILLY to sing vocals in an attempt to add variety: by this stage REILLY was in danger of being over- exposed. The vocalists are woven expertly through the album, alternating until 'Tricks Of The Light' in which they both appear. None of the first four tracks are outstanding, instead merely competent rock, damning this album to the bargain bins. The title track is excellent, with welcome power around the main theme. 'Talk About Your Life' is a simple reworking of 'To France', a trick he uses again on 'Islands': the advantage is that on first listen it makes the album sound familiar, but it wears out its welcome far sooner than otherwise. I'd rather he hadn't made this so very obvious.

My focus here is almost entirely on the final twelve-minute track, the only part of the album that could be considered in any way progressive. 'The Lake' encapsulates MIKE OLDFIELD in this phase of his career: rhythm-dominated, with synths chosen in place of the multitracked guitars of his '70s output. The track opens tentatively, with woodwind-sounding synths (if you don't like eighties synths, don't bother with this!) augmented by the introduction of a pulsing bass, with the percussion arriving dramatically on an offbeat. The main theme appears again, heralding a simple rhythm backing a simple tune played by guitar and synth. A pause for breath, then a majestic theme appears twice, separated by OLDFIELD'S trademark liquid guitars. More pulsing bass heralds a magical guitar sequence underlain by complex rhythms. The first ten nine of the track, excellent in themselves, serves to set the stage for the finale, which is jaw-dropping in its beauty and simplicity. Impossibly heavy drums announce a layered synth theme of immense power and a melancholy beauty, repeated and then brought to a close, leaving the listener wanting more. One of the highlights of his career. It won't make a believer out of you, but it helped OLDFIELD believers keep the faith through this period of his career.

A two-star album becomes three stars because of 'The Lake'. As with all MIKE OLDFIELD'S output in the 1980s, avoid if you hate pop songs and/or the eighties sound.

russellk | 3/5 |

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