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Mike Oldfield - Guitars CD (album) cover

GUITARS

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.96 | 183 ratings

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thief
3 stars Let me spell it out for you once more: every single sound comes from a guitar or guitar synthesizer/MIDI. Rhythm section included. It's advised you actually LIKE guitars enough to buy into an album going overboard with its use. Granted, many rock records are dominated with guitar riffs, responsible for up to 70% of played music. But here it's 100%, and it's all Oldfield. Although the idea itself isn't entirely new, I deem it a pretty bold move for a musician known primarily as a multi-instrumentalist, skillfully incorporating bagpipes, glockenspiels, spinets, organs, bells and Farfisas into rock environment.

Admittedly I was happy to replay this album a couple of times. There is enough variety to appease even casual listeners. For starters, we have a bunch of well-executed, melancholic madrigals, beginning with charming "Muse". Similar moods are invoked with beautiful "Embers", though this time additional sounds come into play and give it more artificial, slightly futuristic feel. "Four Winds" is the longest track here and I really recommend it; avid Oldfield fans will feel at home with its middle section, very mellow and dreamlike. The part around 4:00 minute mark is lovely, too, and so refreshing. The latter half, although far from flamenco, turns out to be heavily influenced by Iberian music. "Enigmatic" and "From the Ashes" may feel generic once you come across them, but they're solid on their own.

Aside from these softer etudes, Mike composed couple hard rocking songs. "Out of Sight" comes around with a heavily distorted guitar, almost as sharp as Frippian crooky nightmares. Similar effects are employed in "B Blues" and "Out of Mind". While all these tracks are fun, I sense too much repetition there, and I wish they formed together a longer, more progressive piece, or at least a foundation of one.

As it is, "Guitars" is a very entertaining, colorful journey. And I haven't even mentioned my favorites: "Cochise" and "Summit Day". The former strikes us with an elegant, fingerpicked melody; and then, clouds fill the skies and the scenery gets more dreary and engaging. Distorted riffs in the chorus are beautifully intertwined with yearning lead guitar. Such an emotional piece. The latter follows its steps, capably contrasting acoustic romanticism with electric despair and bitterness - such a wide range is covered, and it's all a SINGLE melody, but exposed from dramatically different angles.

Yes, I enjoyed "Guitars" despite its cheap album cover and risky premises. Of course I'd love if it was more progressive; most of featured compostions could be lumped together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. I'm sure Mike was perfectly able to make such rearrangements. But I still recommend you to give it a try. Even if you're sceptical of instrumental self- indulgence, you won't deny the beauty of "Cochise", "Summit Day" and even "Four Winds".

In my book it's enough to warrant three stars

thief | 3/5 |

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