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Mike Oldfield - The Killing Fields CD (album) cover

THE KILLING FIELDS

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

2.63 | 99 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Once is enough

"The killing fields" was one of Oldfield's rare ventures into soundtrack writing, it appears however that his experiences while working on the film were not all sweetness and light. For six months Oldfield dedicated his time to working on the music, only to find that on returning from a subsequent tour that the film's director was not satisfied with what Oldfield had submitted. Oldfield therefore asked for additional funding to allow him to commission an orchestra and choir. This was agreed to, Oldfield brought in his long time friend David Bedford to assist, and they spent a further three months together on the project. Once this reworking had been completed, the director then decided to make further changes to the film, which meant Oldfield had to make more changes to what he thought would be his final efforts.

Clearly these experiences did not endear Oldfield to working on film soundtracks, and he has avoided them ever since.

While we here are interested in such albums from a purely musical perspective, a word about the film will help to put the music in context. The title "The killing fields" gives a clear indication of the type of film to be expected. Although classified as a war film and set when the US was fighting in Cambodia, the film tends to focus on the futility and the consequences of war through the eyes of a New York Times journalist, rather than the fighting itself. Incidentally, the film also included the songs "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Band on the run" by Wings, and the opera piece "Nessun Dorma" but only Oldfield's work is included on this album.

To the music itself, and we should not view this as a bona fide Mike Oldfield album. From the opening strains of the orchestra and choir singing a sad refrain, it is clear that this is a film soundtrack. While it is not difficult to spot Oldfield's trademark guitar work and his various signatures this is very different to say "Tubular Bells" or "Amarok". The themes are often ambient, with pleasant but unchallenging new age nuances. Taken out of context in album format, the music stands up reasonably well, but as the compositions here were primarily intended to be heard in conjunction with viewing the film, there is something of a fish out of water effect when listening to the album.

The final track, "Étude" stands apart from the rest, as it was played over the closing titles and thus did not require to reflect the on screen situation as such. The piece was composed by Francisco Tárrega under the title 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra' (Memories of the Alhambra). It was originally written for solo classical guitar. Oldfield did not record the piece with the film in mind, but it was included due to its "Cambodian feel". The track is a sort of light Bolero, with a building repeating theme played on keyboards and a more familiar Oldfield feel to it.

In all, this album should be seen for what it is, the extracted music from a film. It is pleasant but when heard in isolation, not particularly strong. For fans of the film and fans of Oldfield only.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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