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Mike Oldfield - Voyager CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.10 | 244 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Try to ignore (if you can) the embarrassing cover portrait, showing a buffed and shirtless Mike Oldfield posing al fresco like a reject from a Riverdance chorus line. I'm tempted to view it as a not very subtle exploitation of the public craze for all things Celtic, but this isn't the first time an ancient Gaelic influence has surfaced on a Mike Oldfield album. And the music at least shows a distinct improvement over his (inexplicably) popular 1994 New Age tranquilizer, "The Songs of Distant Earth".

The newer album is split evenly between updated arrangements of traditional melodies and original compositions, including the orchestral semi-epic "Mont St. Michel" (not exactly a sacred Celtic site, but never mind). The older tunes, perhaps not surprisingly, fare best, even after being smothered in sticky digital syrup: lush synthesized strings, lots of spacious reverb, and so forth. Cineastes will recognize "Women of Ireland" from its prominent use in the 1975 Stanley Kubrick film "Barry Lyndon", and the song maintains its haunting period flavor despite the synthetic facelift.

According to one source the album was intended to be entirely acoustic, and played on traditional hand- held instruments: fiddles, uillean pipes, tin whistles and so forth. But Oldfield was said to be persuaded by the (obviously brain-dead) daughter of a Warner Brothers executive to add the electronic keyboards and guitars, in a misguided effort to make the music more accessible.

I guess all that expensive self-assertiveness therapy failed to stick. And too bad, because although the ersatz ethnic charm of the finished album is certainly easy on the ears, the original uncompromised vision could have resulted in something truly special.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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