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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 | 214 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Songs of new age.

If there was ever an album that could really be called 'new age' from Mike Oldfield, then it's probably this one - and in that regard it has its merits, for sure, but as a prog album stacked up against his classic work, this one's got nothing on the crowd. It's a song cycle of sorts, harking back to the days when he would write one song per album, but of course, being in the days of cd, each song section is split up from the rest and given its own title. Make no mistake though, this may be one hour long suite, but it's boring... boring as hell in fact. This is the kind of album that you put on to make yourself fall asleep at night, and while it does have some of the most beautiful melodies and soundscapes around the repetition of them and the pointless meandering of the songs makes you want to reach for the skip button, only to realize that the next song is exactly the same.

This is not like the Oldfield of old. Back in the days of Ommadawn the guy was actually able to hold an audience's attention with a 40-minute long song, and even Amarok was able to do the same with a 60-minute suite. This one is more atmospheric and, well, new age than those ones. Kind of like elevator music for a science museum, or the kind of thing you get stoned to and wonder about the answer of life, the universe and everything. It's background music, not the kind of thing that will grab you by the throat and demand that you listen to it.

Still, with all the bashing, there are some classic moments on the album. In the sections where Oldfield actually shows his talented chops there are some of the most hauntingly beautiful moments that he's ever recorded. The There Be Light is an amazing start to the album as Oldfield uses the soundscapes to his advantage and from the blue beyond plays some of the most gorgeous and tear jerking riffs imaginable. It's difficult to actually describe the beauty of this song. Tubular World also catches attention nearing the end of the disc, it's almost electronic in a sense, but manages to reprieve the Tubular Bells theme once more over the mystical soundscapes.

In the end, this is the disc you want to buy if you want to zone out for just over and hour. It's not demanding (minus two tracks) and it's highly repetitive. Definitely not Oldfield's best by any stretch of the imagination, but still an interesting experiment in terms of the construction of sound. Ultimately it's only recommended to the fans, as others would probably rather use it as a coaster. 2 stars out of 5 - as stated in my review for another new age album, Jon & Vangelis's Private Collection - long, airy, forgettable.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |

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