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Mike Oldfield - Five Miles Out CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.68 | 354 ratings

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5 stars The worm crawls slowly towards the sound, fascinated by the rhythm while overhead the swallows twirl wildly in looping frenzy. The neighborhood cats are prowling as if transfixed, completely oblivious to all the other usual targets. Where is this strange music coming from? It seems to always emanate from the same window, where the quiet man lives, you know the one with the weird musical tastes! I always loved this album, perhaps due to the tremendous music between its vinyl thighs, perhaps because I was becoming a "Family Man" at the time, or maybe it was the fantastic artwork, one of the finest rock album covers ever. The musicians here are all phenomenal: the incredible Morris Pert on assorted percussion, the solid Tim Cross on keys, a gentleman named Rick Fenn on guitar (played with Floyd's Nick Mason and with 10CC), the stunning Celtic wail from Maggie Reilly, the even more Celtic pipes from Chieftain Paddy Moloney, the added percussives from ELP's Palmer and the busiest session drummer in the UK at the time, Graham Broad. "Taurus II" leaves off where Taurus I (on the previous "QE2") started, a humungous 24 minute escapade into a variety of tones and styles , heady contrasts and rippling Oldfield riffs and leads that only a genius like him could come up with.. Leaving behind the stark orchestral whoosh of the Tubular Bell format, Mike gets a little harder edged which suited him very nicely, a jet-propelled ensemble that could dip, weave, soar and swerve with intricate facility. "Taurus II" remains a classic pillar of prog, a showcase to an immense talent and some pretty courageous vision, pulsating music that has a razor edge among the dense Irish mists, a constantly evolving brew of sound and fury. A true progressive tour de force, enough said. "Family Man" is way more inspiring than the sloppy Philadelphian version by Hall and Oates, here full of Gaelic charm and sexy exuberance. A work where the stark electronics clash with the robotic drums, nearby the dripping synths and the rash guitar intermix while Maggie displays her vocal wares, somehow not able to convey any "commercial" message at all. It holds its place very well as a romantic interlude, with a slippery solo burst that is plain scary. "Orabidoo" travels to distant sonic shores as pilot Oldfield (he still is a flyer) elevates his ailerons and heads south, into the mystically clear blue skies of North Africa and beyond. The trend here is certainly more experimental, lots of vocoded voices, anomalous sonic samples with sundry effects, stinging electronic blasts, screeching guitar licks, massive doses of binary drumming within an oasis of poly-rhythmic percussives, some obtuse harpsichord, repeated by a jangly piano, unexpected scat singing and a raging riff just to keep you off your Kilimanjaro! This is another classic Oldfield piece de resistance, a quirky slab of detailed mosaic that defies convention and formula. Some music rag hacks back then called this patchwork but they had never been in a studio, unable to string three notes together. The soft vocal and acoustic finale is proof enough of Mike's grasp and class. "Mount Teidi" features a gentle lilt, lush with spirited bass and fluid guitar lines while Carl Palmer bashes away on percussion, another atmospheric adventure that is inspiring and ultimately satisfying. I strongly suggest to revisit the glorious cover art and absorb the spirit of aviate adventure, as if soaring above the routine, floating in some sonic expanse that has no limitations. The title closer is a pleasant ditty with Oldfield's heavily vocoded voice entwined with Reilly's crystal chords, the Celtic clashing with some harsh growling (Mike, did you give birth to death-metal too?), loopy guitar, more robotics and yet the angelic voice persists.

The worm looks up at me and seems to still wonder "Am I Five Miles Out?"

5 Miles In, baby .

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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