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Mike Oldfield - Music of the Spheres CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.04 | 210 ratings

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3 stars The best Tubular Bells sequel.

Oldfield has made a number of sequels to his first album, Tubular Bells. Some are named as such (Orchestral TB, TB II, TB III, Millennium Bell, and TB 2003). Some of these are essentially replicas of the original (TB 2003, Orchestral, etc), some have virtually no musical relation to the original (Millennium Bell), while TB II is a weird alternate-universe rewrite of it (as I mentioned in my review) and the main theme of TB III is similar to that. But Mike has also recorded other songs/albums not labelled with the TB moniker that have very similar melodies to the original TB. The main theme of "Crises" is like this - it is VERY similar to the main theme in the original TB. 'Music of the Spheres' fits this latter pattern and more. The main theme on this album (the track is called "Harbinger" here) is VERY similar to the original TB theme, and it re-appears throughout the album, which largely takes the form of one long continuous piece broken up into sections with different names based on their main themes. Looking back, I wish Mike had just made one TB sequel - this one (although I also like "Crises"). It seems to me this is the most musically-honest sequel. Lacking the pretense of TB II or TB III, or the crass commercialism of Millennium Bell, 'Music of the Spheres' is a work of serious music that both harkens back to TB but also presents a lot of new musical ideas that are clearly Oldfield. It doesn't seem like Oldfield cashing in, nor Oldfield ripping himself off, but instead Oldfield being himself but taking his music to new levels. The album is recorded by a Symphony Orchestra, with Hayley Westenra added on solo vocals, and Lang Lang on solo piano, along with Oldfield on classical guitar. The sound quality is amazing - it wraps around you and is so inviting to the ear. Much of the music here is very good, the vocalist is great, and one can listen to this quite enjoyably all the way through. Saying this, the album is not very "exciting" (ie it is a touch boring), but my main gripe is that Oldfield's guitar contributions are quite scant. Oldfield is such an amazing and original guitar player, it would have been great to hear him play more on this album. But he appears at any length on only a few tracks. It just leaves you wishing for more guitar. So, while I consider this to be Mike Oldfield's best album since 'Amarok', it doesn't break 4 stars. After multiple listens, I give this album 7.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars. Nonetheless, the best Tubular Bells sequel in my opinion.

Walkscore | 3/5 |


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