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Mike Oldfield - Heaven's Open CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.50 | 193 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars To me this is among Oldfield's worst albums. It's the only one featuring himself as the main vocalist, but - actually to my surprise - that's not one of the album's most notable faults. Either he's a decent singer or maybe the music is just so heavily and skillfully produced that anyone's voice couldn't make the five songs much worse than they already are. Hmm, no need to be so harsh: he did surprise me positively on the vocal department. But it's really the songwriting that stinks here, at least if you are expecting more familiar Oldfield stuff instead of flirting with disco/ reggae/ AOR styles. Only 'No Dream' is worth repeated listenings (but even that should end sooner) while the four others I saw no point of listening completely in the first place. Drummer Simon Phillips, saxophonist Courtney Pine, keyboardist Mickey Simmonds and bassist Dave Levy give the music kind of a ballsy treatment and thus guide Mike thru these less Oldfield-esque territories professionally: the end result is not a disaster. Actually some songs on the Islands album are even less interesting and banal. But the question is: who on earth would wish to hear this stuff from Mike Oldfield?

The album's format is familiar from e.g. Five Miles Out and Crises: another (imaginary) album side is for the straight-forward vocal pop and the other is one continuing instrumental work. The listener puts his/her hopes on this nearly 20-minute 'Music From The Balcony' after the disappointing chain of songs, but it is far from the level of 'Crises' or 'Taurus'. I guess better comparisons are 'Wind Chimes 1-2' (from Islands) and Amarok, which was rather experimental one-hour sound collage. I don't enjoy Amarok - I find it very tiresome and lacking of sense and coherence - and I feel more or less the same about this one. It feels like a continuum of very brief musical vignettes that don't build on each other: the music is quite directionless and is closer to a flea jumping constantly off the ground than a bird soaring high, or even a running animal for that matter. Some moments are quite OK, some are totally irritating. Even the ending of this major "composition" is disappointing. All of a sudden it just stops without any kind of a finale grandiosity that would reward the listening task.

Skip this album.

Matti | 2/5 |


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