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Mike Oldfield - The Songs of Distant Earth CD (album) cover

THE SONGS OF DISTANT EARTH

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.75 | 218 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Vibrationbaby
3 stars Mike Oldfield`s Songs Of Distant Earth endeavours to musically extrapolate interstellar space travel as postulated in Arthur C. Clarke`s 1986 novel of the same name which first appeared in short story form in 1958 in the science fiction magazine IF. At the time of it`s release in 1994 the work with it`s desolate atmospheric soundscapes, choral vocal harmonizations and forlorn guitar lines were praised by Clarke himself if that`s an indication of the grandeloquent images conjured by this pristine and immaculately produced recording.

Unfortunately Oldfield`s ambitions are only partially realised here and come under scrutiny by becoming a bit too redundant, clinical and lacking in dynamics and when placed on a graph it sort of flatlines out about halfway through without really intensifying. This is not to say that it doesn`t have it`s moments, but those familiar with Oldfield`s previous work will recognise many worn out Oldfield devices such as oversampling, over-synthesized sounds ( such as bagpipes ), and the Tubular Bells theme which makes yet another appearance this time masquerading as Tubular World, which is admittedly one of the better variations, if only we were not subjected to it for the kazillionth time! Some tracks contain effective moody elements such as the haunting auras construed on The Chamber and The Sunken Forest or the subtle rhythmic world beat feel of The Shining Ones and Magellan. These otherwise individually wonderful pieces would stand out better as part of an audio visual presentation such as a slide show or documentary on sea or space exploration.

I have always found that modern musical liturgies based on novels, historical events or legends such as Rick Wakeman`s thematic works on English legend & lore or Triumvirat`s takes on ancient Rome tend to run the gauntlet through the land of cheese. While I wouldn`t go that far with The Songs Of Distant Earth but when placed under the microscope it does lean more towards the unobstrusive New Age music you would hear in a waiting room in a dentist`s office. In this respect it ineffably acheives a certain relaxing transcendental ambience and if all is not lost here hopefully Mike Oldfield`s Songs Of Earth will stimulate the curiousity of any uninitiated listener to delve further into the colossal world of Arthur C. Clarke arguably the greatest science fiction writer of our time. Simply not enough happening here to arouse too much prog rock excitement unless you are a die hard Mike Oldfield fan. At the same time, it has to recieve accolades for it`s excellent production and continuity and definite appeal for a more AOR audience.

Vibrationbaby | 3/5 |

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