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Mike Oldfield - Light + Shade CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.78 | 161 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars I am too old to have used the term "chill" during my formative years, and time will tell whether it will have the staying power of "cool" or the ephemerality of "groovy". But I'm not too old to recognize chill when I experience it. And "Light and Shade" is the very essence of chill.

This probably isn't as groundbreaking or overtly progressive as Oldfield's early works, but let's give the man a rest and enjoy his continued relevance in executing electronica freshly and curtly. Apart from the jaded new age ennui of "Blackbird", "Rocky" and "Sunset", all a bit too "light" for their own good, this is uniformly enjoyable relaxation music with enough edge to satisfy a more demanding commute, road trip, or workout. I know, I've tried it out in all scenarios.

I'll go against conventional prog wisdom by adding that "Shade" is the better half, although "First Steps" and "Our Father" from the light side are both favourites. The tempos are notched up, the melodies more forceful, and the synthesized vocals more authentic if you will. The best of these are the ones that blend all these elements with Oldfield's still searing guitar figures. The man knows how to incorporate his axe work into any style, and does so without overpowering or appearing to be parachuting it in to save old fans. "Resolution" has it all in this regard and is surprisingly energetic. "Surfing" is much more laid back and hypnotic, and its vocals involve more than just repeating a disyllabic mantra, and the tune is the hardest to shake on "Light and Shade". "Tears of an Angel" begins quasi- orchestrally before giving way to another "song" oriented piece, this one shifting pace far more than its predecessor, aided by guitar solo injections. "Ringscape" is the most new agey of the "Shade" pieces but is also majestic and dignified, affording welcome contrast to the 24 hour clubbing sounds of most of this half. Again, the man's guitars save it from being mistaken for PATRICK O'HEARN or YANNI.

While likely to displease many a fan of the man's prog phases, "Light and Shade" succeeds in delivering on its promises and, more importantly, on pledges it never made. Chill.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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