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Mike Oldfield - The Killing Fields CD (album) cover

THE KILLING FIELDS

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is good when you watch the movie. This Oldfield's album is quite different from the other ones: it's a music made for films! You often have orchestral arrangements. The sounds are sometimes produced by cold linear keyboards; the rhythm is sometimes there and has different speeds. Some songs, like "Etude", are more traditional, fully loaded of miscellaneous instruments, only like Oldfield knows how to do it.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#28400)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I bought this LP, kept it for years, then bought the CD version, kept it for years.... and then one day I realized that there just isn't anything on the album that makes it worth keeping. I think I kept it because it's so different from the rest of Oldfield's work, mainly due to his discovery of the Fairlight CMI (Computer Music Instrument). I had the pleasure of working on a Fairlight from the early 80's through the early 90's (the beast finally died, and no one could fix it since the company had gone under). Some wonderful sounds could be had on the Fairlight, but Mike Oldfield couldn't seem to find any of them. He makes the Fairlight sound sterile and soulless, relying on cheesy, clunky sounds (for some good Fairlight work, listen to certain Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush albums). The guitar is seldom heard, and David Bedford's short appearance is a throwaway. Good as a curiosity, and good while watching the film. Bad for just listening.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#44944)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I think this is a very special album in the Oldfield´s discography, and ovbiously underrated by the Oldfield´s fans too...

Maybe if you listen this album before you have seen the film, it will be a little odd and strange for you, because this music it´s sometimes too dark and eerie...For that, I recommend see "The Killing Fileds" picture before hear the album, because if you make that, you will discover that this album illustrates perfectly the wonderful story of the film. And you will be able to enjoy the dark travel through the Cambodian war and the protagonist´s feelings with the web of synthethisers and great percussive elements that Oldfiled used for making this music, in addition of a very well orchestrated parts... Because I think that Oldfield made a great work as Film-Score writer! In my opinion he mixed the dark synthethised parts with the more orchestral and luminous ones with a great success, and without losing his identity...

Although there´s is also some tracks very enjoyable and more in the Oldfield´s typical style: Pran´s Theme, Good News, Pran Sees the Red Cross, Etude... Maybe tracks like these are the most accesible ones, but I think the whole disc it´s excellent!

For that, I specially recommend this album to people who want to discover the Oldfield´s darkest side and for Film Music and soundtracks lovers. But I think that this music can be also enjoyed by every prog fan who likes the most darker and experimental side of instrumental symphonic music...

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#55781)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#73374)
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars A soundtrack to a powerful film. Cambodia's killing fields tell a terrifying and tragic story. So it's such a shame the music doesn't measure up to the subject matter.

There's no doubt that MIKE OLDFIELD tried. He grappled with a recalcitrant director and spent far longer on the project than he intended. But the result is juiceless: tuneless, passionless, confined by the necessities of the soundtrack format. On the surface OLDFIELD seems an excellent choice to write a soundtrack, but the requirements are specialist and the restrictions too many for a progressive musician.

The music is best described as ambient. Not because OLDFIELD has embraced the minimalism of ENO or the experimentalism of GLASS or REICH, but because everything else has been removed. The result is mechanical, sterile, almost a parody of the movie. Tellingly, by far the best track, 'Etude', is not composed by OLDFIELD.

I think its best to be listened to separate from the movie, as it's pleasant on its own, but destroys the film.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#138537)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It is difficult to say that this is a true Oldfield album. There are lots of orchestrations throughout the album which sounds very classical during these of course. At times, Mike produces some electronic tracks which aren't truly memorable as well ("Evacuation").

The problem with this type of work (and it is not only related to this particular album) is that when you listen to it out of its context (the movie, which is great and poignant), one feels a bit lost and in this case surprised with the offering.

Some peaceful moments like "Pran's Theme II" and "Bad News" are very pleasant but too scarce on this album. "Execution" is poignant and harrowing of course. Fully renders the oppressive atmosphere in Cambodia during the awful tyranny during the Red Khmers 's regime (they killed three millions of their own people in atrocious circumstances and we (the Western countries) did not do anything to help these poor people. No oil at that time there to deserve interest I guess.

The same feeling of dread can be felt during Pran's Escape & The Killing Fields an icy and imposing part. Although fully symphonic oriented, the orchestral "The trek" is bombastic and impressive and contrasts with the sweet and sad "The Boy's Burial & Pran Sees the Red Cross". Another emotional part.

After all these demoralizing pieces, the more joyful Good News (well titled) is more than welcome. And as some fellow reviewers alreday have mentioned, the closing number Etude is the most Oldfield oriented and also my preferred one from this album. A great movie but an average soundtrack when you take it apart (so, just listen to it while viewing the film is my advice).

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#160553)
Posted Saturday, February 02, 2008 | Review Permalink

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