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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 | 219 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars New age space music in the literal sense

Here we have the perfect soundtrack for a film about drifting through space on a ship. Or perhaps for shots taken by the Hubble telescope. Or perhaps just relaxing in your home with some background music. "The Songs of Distant Earth" is Mike Oldfield composing an album in honor of Arthur C. Clarke, whose work has inspired Mike greatly. It also marks perhaps his closest successful embrace of new age music to date.

With a flowing suite of songs that sound exactly like the album cover makes you think it will--either cover, there are two different ones--tSoDE is a soft and serene journey to the great blue expanse of space. Titles like "In the beginning," "Supernova," "First Landing," and "Ascension" all give you the correct idea of where you are heading. Gentle keyboard and effects-laden guitar textures aplenty wash over you and float you away, to the low key programmed beats in the background. The melodies are dreamy and spacelike, with Mike's expressive guitar playing as good as it always is, if significantly toned down in aggression content. Mostly his playing is just pleasant and calming and "ice-blue" if one wants to describe sound with color. Various vocals provide similarly calming, meditative chants and wordless heavenly choirs along with sampled extracts from Apollo 8 and self-hypnosis tape. Children's voices and adult spoken words can be heard from time to time, as if they are calling one from afar. The whole experience is one that is fairly unique. I love some of the simple piano leads that drop here and there, which to me represents simple humanity in the sea of stars and space themes. From a "prog-rock" standpoint the album could be pretty disappointing to old time Mike fans, as mentioned this is a much different album than those from the 70s. It does not quite reach the emotional and interesting heights of the superb TB3 which came a few years later, but it is good for the subset of fans who appreciate new age music.

For the consistency and obvious effort Mike put into the project, for the beautiful vocals and guitar, I can give this 3 stars. But it is not a title I turn to often and mainly only when looking for something very relaxing to play in the background.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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