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Mike Oldfield - Light + Shade CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Following the line of "Tres lunas", Mike makes a "double conceptual chill out prog album", with lot of high moment this album show how the artists can be influence by each decade and with out boring the listener. Forget Tubular, Ommadawn or even Crises and Discovery, this is the new Mike (the 2005 Oldfield) and Like or not this is an artist showing not all his potencial but making the music that he like in this moment. I love Oldfield and all his evolution. I`m still waiting his visit in Argentina (one of the most forgotten country in the prog ambient).
Report this review (#56386)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Better than Tres Lunas? I think a shade. Light is disc one and is by far the better disc. All vocals are computer generated. The album is pretty good with the exception of the niggling ' Gate'. The vocals are just plain irritating and the four munites don't go fast enough. That aside there is some excellent material on ' Light' .' Blackbird' and ' Rocky' ( a reference to one of Oldfield's horses) highlight great piano work by the maestro, great tempo reminiscent of ' Broad Sunlit Uplands' on Millenium Bell. ' First steps', ' Our Father' and ' Sunset' are all good and typical ' new age' sounding Oldfield.

' Shade' has a couple of dubiuos club songs. Like the awful ' Romance' but again it is generally a solid effort. ' Resolution', ' Tears Of An Angel' and ' the hypnotic ' Surfing' probably the best. This is better than Tres Lunas and once again Mike Oldfield tells the world that he will risk take and create whatever he feels like as his musical journey continues to evolve. Will he return to 30 minute or sixty minute musical pieces again? Who knows, but while he experiments many people will enjoy most of the new and different directions he takes them on.

Report this review (#56620)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mike Oldfield and his musical work are an acquired taste for certain...It would be safe to say that I have acquired that particular taste from the age of about 14. During which time the maestro has been experimenting with just about every form of music out there...Thankfully he has returned to more "Progressive" influences in the last few years. This 2 disc album is an outstanding piece of work; having many new and varied ideas borne out through the use of some very modern technology; most notably the whole "Computer Music" area (he uses Digital Vocals and sequencing software Fruityloops, a program I have used since even before him!)

Moving up a gear from the Tr3s Lunas vein, still chilled out but also with more of the trademark Oldfield guitar work, that we all know and love...and expert nuances on the Piano that simply cannot be written or played by ANYBODY else! In my opinion both discs have their winners; my personal choices are Angelique & Sunset on Disc 1 and Surfing, Resolution & Nightshade on Disc 2. I would say that the second disc was by far the best, but then I have always preferred Mike Oldfield in darkly reflective mood; Tubular Bells 2 has the majority of my favourite work from his stable on it.

It took me 2 listens before I "Got-it" but now it has me; I can't help singing the melodies from various tunes if there is no music playing in the room I'm in! It really stays with you in a good; non-annoying way...Buy it and you won't be disappointed (just make sure you give it a second chance like I did).

Report this review (#56912)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Burger me"

At time of writing, "Light and shade" is Mike Oldfield's latest release. This is a double CD collection, one CD being entitled "Light", and the other being (you guessed it!) "Shade".

"Light" is best compared to albums such as "The songs of distant earth", the mood if anything being even more ambient than that album and bordering at times on the new age. The opening track, "Angelique" features some fine guitar work by Oldfield who once again plays all the instruments on the album. The female vocals on the track appear to be repeating the invitation "Burger me" (could be worse) but I could be mishearing this!

When Oldfield moves to the keyboards, the Wakeman similarities are strong, "Blackbird" sounding like it is a track from Wakeman's "Rhapsodies" album. Later, Celtic influences which previously had been used to fine effect on OIdfield's "Voyager" album, come to the fore. These influences are particularly noticeable on "Closer" and "Our father" the latter resembling the output of bands such as Clannad and Runrig.

"Shade" on the other hand is much harder, with "Tubular Bells III" being a suitable reference point. Here, the Ibiza influences which came through so strongly on TB3 are once again much in evidence. The heavy bass and drums plus the strong trance rhythms and sounds may not be to everyone's liking, but those who's tastes extend to such music will find much to enjoy here. The melody of "Quicksilver" is very similar to the opening theme of "Tubular Bells" set to a dance beat, and incorporating trance like synth effects - "Tubular Bells 4" perhaps? "Slipstream" could have been lifted straight from a Jean Michel Jarre album. The simplistically structured "Nightshade" maintains the Ibiza sound and "Romance" veers dangerously close to Giorgo Moroder territory.

There are more orthodox rock influenced numbers such as the "Guilty" like "Resolution" and the almost bluesy "Ringscape". The latter is the best of the "Shade" set, with some good Hackett like guitar.

There are a couple of softer pieces on "Shade" too. "Surfing" is song based, with a repeating chorus and a simple melody, but the guitar solo towards the end is striking. "Tears of an angel" has a world music feel due to its rhythmic tribal chant.

In all, an enjoyable if not particularly challenging offering from Oldfield, with pleasant melodies, and the expected competent musicianship.

One criticism I have of the presentation is that the tracks do not segue together. Both of the CDs offer consecutive tracks of a similar mood, the gaps between them being unnecessary, and distracting. This is exacerbated on tracks such as "Sunset" which stops rather abruptly, as if originally intended to link to another piece.

Both of the CDs are short, running to little over 40 minutes apiece. Indeed, with a minimal amount of curtailment, the music would have fitted comfortably onto one disc. The remainder of the "Light" disc is given over to an enhanced CD section for the PC, which allows the remixing of several of the tracks from both CDs. The mixing facility consists of separate tracks for each of the key elements of the song (vocals, guitar, piano etc.) with volume manipulation controls for each. There is however no option to alter the actual sound of each element. The end results can be exported in wave format, and thus written to CD. I have to say that for me the novelty value of this extra quickly faded.

Report this review (#58542)
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars not very orthodox simph prog, but an excellent album. May it be because of oldfield's creativity, due to his skills when playing specially the keyboards, or just because. This is an excellent album, all of it, but with some skippeable songs. I must state, though, that everyone should listen at least "Our father" and "quiksilver", and also "surfing" (one of the few songs that involve a vocalist's work). Not just for prog fans, but for anyone who might enjoy a quiet but cheerful cd, with the precise notes at the precise time, not more, not less. Excellent. To give a word of advice, everyone who is able to, give it a try, you'll like it.

Report this review (#59372)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Being a long date Mike Fan, I dont recommend this light and shade album. I just dont recognise myself in that music. Since many of the most recent albums were very disapointing ( guitars and espescially tr3es lunas), expectations were great that Mike would perhaps make us a surprise potentially issuing another masterpiece of the '' amarok '' kind to impress his older fans. That hope was brouht down by that new album and I'M surprised that people in that forum found any interest at all in that double disappoinment. So , to avoid frustration, I did listened back to an album from my Mike's collection and found a great satisfaction listening again to a great composition from a composer who's supposed to be still great.........'' music from the balcony '' from the album '' heavens open ''

Mike, please ......please......... give us another masterpiece ,that's enough with techno disco ......

Report this review (#67889)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars OK,this is not prog! In fact its got more in common with the music played in Ibiza nightclubs with its ambience and dance orientated stylings.I find the 'up tempo' music of the second disc with to be the best,a good one to play after coming late back at night 'bladdered'! The first disc resembles some of the music on 'Songs of Distant Earth' but not as good.2 points for the first disc,3 points for the second disc which gives 2.5 points.As its not prog I deduct half a point.One for Oldfield devotees only I fear.
Report this review (#69950)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a great album. The cloth-eared something-somethings above may not agree, but I would say that this is the best Oldfield since TB3 or ..Distant Earth for sure. There is a lot of electronic/ambient influences over both discs, but I think that if anyone is capable of taking what is usually a dull, repetitive genre and adding the colour and flair that prog fans love, Oldfield is this artist. Both discs are demonstratable proof that this supposition is correct.

Light has heavier ambient influences and features the best guitar work by far since ...Distant Earth or possibly Amarok. The disc is reflective and mood-setting; think of Signify-era Porcupine Tree with a heavier electronic feel (or possibly BlueMoonWaters-era TGR).

Shade is a faster, club-influenced (but not dominated) disc that has a bit of everything. We only get 4/4 tracks, but inventive sampled/synthesized rhythms kept me interested for sure, and the layers and layers of synth sounds like a trance battle between KS and Bill Namlook (the disc sounds very much like the Dark Side of the Moog series of albums, particularly 5 and 6, again with a faster electronic rhythm).

All in all, I think that this album is some of the best progressive music out there; re-hashing old themes a la Marillion is no longer progressive. Being able to incorporate both old-style prog and electronic stuff is real progression; here, Oldfield delivers.

5 stars without a doubt.

Report this review (#85307)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
2 stars Mike Oldfield - Light and Shade

Okay, one cannot argue that Oldfield didn't adapt to modern times. "Light + Shade" is a collection of mainly laidback electronic, instrumental, soundscapes. Disc 1 is the more relaxed one here, with disc 2 featuring a few more up-tempo songs among yet some more chilled-out ones. Odd enough all the songs without the electronic beats are the ones I tend to skip.

This release has hardly anything to do with progressive music, despite being made by the musician that gave us "Tubular Bells" and "Ommadawn". Sure there's some excellent, slow guitarsoloing from time to time but nothing really progresses further than a slight change of melody or pace.

Overall there's only one aspect of this disc that really bothers me more than its lack of originality. This is the inclusion of computer-based vocals. Half of the time they work well but in other tracks they are quite simply annoying.

Nice for Oldfield fans, but I wouldn't recommend it as a good prog album.

Report this review (#86134)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So much dissent, obviously many hard core fans are very opinionated with this latest Oldfield release. When one has had such a stellar career (think about it: still kicking after more than a quarter century!!!Who can claim that?) , its only normal that nostalgia entwines with bitterness. What would the average fan wish for Amarok Mark 7 or another Tubular Balls ? Give the man a break, he still plays a mean guitar and has retained an ear for stupendous melodies (of which these discs abound) . How can one claim that this is commercial? Have you heard what commercial is lately? He went through his pop craze in the eighties with so-so results that are now history. I agree that synthetic drums should be replaced by the human variety, someone like Chris Maitland or Jerry Marotta would definitely alter the overall sonics and the perception of this being too sterile. This is probably why Oldfield added a U-MYX toy for us fans who like to fool around, so that the offensive synthetic drums can be erased. Presto, back to acceptability!!! Seriously now, there are some fabulous melodies here , Angelique, Kingscape, Quicksilver, Our Father, Slipstream etc... all have a haunting quality that deserves respect. Certainly not the best ever Oldfield product but far from the worst (Heaven's Open and Millenium Bell are pretty weak) , but placed in the same contest as the wonderful Songs from Distant Earth, this is a desirable addition to one's collection. Review on its own merits and not to be compared to past glories is the least respect one can bestow on such a dedicated artist. 4 shaded lights
Report this review (#91096)
Posted Friday, September 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Once upon a time I had quite a taste for the kind of new-agey, pseudo-electronical music that Mike is dabbling in with this album... There are a few tracks which are absolutely sublime and a lot of others that are simply uninspired and uninteresting. I rather liked "The Gate" because for the moments when the sounds actually come together, there's a hint of something interesting to be had from the vocaloids - though there's a lot more work to be done before it emerges cleanly. The thing to note here is that Mike has completely turned his back on his roots with this album and gone straight into the digital world (computers now, not just electronic instruments) with complete abandon. This album playes rather like a demo set Mike put together while playing with and mastering all of his new toys.

Overall not much to get excited about, but it hints at interesting things in the future for Mike's next album. Given that he has created some of the most sublime and sophisticated progressive instrumentals in the genre, perhaps he will once again do the same but this time with completely electronic elements. Light & Shade would be a passable effort for most of the new-age artist crowd, but for those of us who know what Mike is capable of it's just comes off as simplistic with some rough edges.

The guitar work, as always, is exceptional.

Report this review (#98825)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even if this can't be put under progressive rock, the music here is just brilliant. This needs at least 10+ listenings to really get into the music. The songs are very interesting to listen to, because of the numerous sounds that you won't hear the first time and that you keep discovering.

Without a doubt this is a real jewel here, if you liked Songs of the Distant Earth, then this is basicly part 2 for that album, quite laid back (cd1 mostly) and some really exellent trademark-Oldfield guitar work among everything else.

Some say this is not the Oldfield they are used to - he has changed his style many times, and as he said when he finished this album: "That's the trouble, I really don't fit into anything categorisable."

After hearing this you just can't help thinking, that did this guy really start in 1973?


Report this review (#107649)
Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars At least some music in Tres lunas used to charm me at first, but in time I began to feel like computer is replacing human heart. And I feel the same with Light + Shade which continues that 'new-agey' electronical contemporary style. As a single disc, leaving the worst tracks out, this would have been clearly better than Tres Lunas. Ten-minute 'First Steps' is very fine, among the best Mike has recorded in a decade. Some others in the first disc are also pretty good listening on the background. The second is more discoish but with some highlights there also. What irritates me (too) is the computer- made 'vocals'. They simply sound ugly. It seems the whole album is produced by Mike alone with his computers. Why no guest vocalists as in Tubular Bells III? Even Vangelis never was that stubborn - think of Montserrat Caballe's angelic vocals in El Greco being replaced by some Virtual Vocalist Software! Admittedly all the other instrumentation - computers or real instruments - is done here with skill. On some track the drums even sound quite real and good. And Mike's clear piano and electric guitar sounds can never go very wrong.

One more thing bothers me: I can't find any information in the leaflet about two tracks NOT being Mike's original compositions. 'Closer' is of course the well-known hymn (I don't know its English name, the one said to be played during the sinking of Titanic anyway) and one of the 2nd disc's tracks is a version of Narciso Yepes' theme from the French film Forbidden Games, 1952. Of course Mike couldn't try to pass them as his own compositions but shouldn't they be addressed to their origins? And one track on the 1st (sorry for not learning them by name...) comes close to the Sound of Music melody 'Edelweiss'. Maybe all this borrowing hints that his own melody source is drying bit by bit.

Anyway I have been certain for a long time that whatever 'new' paths Oldfield tries to explore, he won't make albums even half as remarkable as 20-30 years ago. The more he tries to follow the latest trends, the more sure that fact is. This one like mostly all of his later works won't stay alive for very many years; before long the listener has gotten totally bored of this computer-made music.

Report this review (#113859)
Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars A slight step up from 'Tr3s Lunas', but still well short of enjoyable.

Though this is downtempo electronica in the main, occasionally MIKE OLDFIELD gives us a glimpse here of the old fire. It almost seems accidental, as though he got the BPM wrong on a few songs. There are some truly wonderful chill-out electronica albums available, including much of THE ORB'S early output, and the KLF'S 'Chill Out' album. Much of this genre is quite progressive: THE ORB has been compared to PINK FLOYD and TANGERINE DREAM. Head in that direction if you want electronic music to enfold you in warmth and lift you into a heightened state of consciousness. All that 'Tr3s Lunas' and 'Light + Shade' have demonstrated is that OLDFIELD simply doesn't 'get' the whole notion of downtempo electronica.

Oh yes, on some tracks he plays guitar. It almost makes it worse, reminding me of what he's capable of. Glimpses of genius, but no more than that, and a grudging two stars.

Report this review (#139455)
Posted Friday, September 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Dear friend Mike almost released more "Tubular" albums than other ones during these last thirteen years (having as reference the date of release of this precise album). Four out of nine albums including the release of "Bells Nr. II".

I was rather disappointed with his prior non-Tubular album (the incredibly poor "Tr3s Lunas").

Well, this double "Shade+Light" is far from being great. Same sort of ambient (supermarket?) music. Not annoying for a penny (or a ? cent) but so emotionless, useless and boring. Here & there some better moments, yes. I can't deny this : "Ringscape" for instance is my fave here. But it is almost the last number of the second CD.

Before this one, you will have to experience some painful numbers; not as boring as during "Lunas" but still hard to believe. Fully new age, impersonal, uninspired and tasteless. The opening number "Angelique" and its computerized "vocal" sets the scene. The beat is awful, although the guitar work is great. What a combination : the good (can't really call this the best) and the worse. But I'm afraid that the worse prevails.

There is one absolutely DREADFUL song on this album, which I can't forgive Mike for. "Romance" is an extremely poor substitution for one of the most beautiful acoustic guitar solo of the French soundtrack ever written. "Jeux Interdits" ŕ la dance music is such a disgusting experience that I will always blame Mike to have done this. Shame on you!!!

But be sure that no highlight is to be expected. Just a bunch of average tracks. I would say, just slightly better than "Lunas" but no more. Two stars. This is really as far as I can get for this work. Avoid it, is the best advice.

Report this review (#163840)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars One disc of New-Age music + one disc of Dance music?

Light + Shade consists of two discs, one a bit "lighter" than the other. For those who have heard Oldfield's recent albums before this one, particularly the strong The Songs Of Distant Earth, Tubular Bells III and the weak Tr3s Lunas, there is really no surprises here. Light + Shade continues in the same general direction with influences from New-Age and Dance music together with more classic Oldfield. This album will certainly please Mike's most devoted followers to some degree at least, but for the rest of us it feels like we heard it all before. It still is an enjoyable listen, but like with Tr3s Lunas, Light + Shade is not an album that I will play often (if ever again). I certainly prefer to play the very much better The Songs Of Distant Earth or Tubular Bells III which are both much stronger albums with quite similar musical content (similar in style but not in quality!).

Sunset which closes the first disc is similar in style to the Guitars album and features some nice guitar playing. Indeed, throughout the whole album we find some nice guitar work here and there, some nice piano too and an occasional melody to catch onto, but overall this double CD is a quite tedious listen. It clearly would have benefited from being shortened to fit on a single disc and there are certainly some passages that could have been cut without losing anything of importance.

New-Age and Dance music is not really my cup of tea and there is hardly anything at all to qualify this as progressive Rock (or any kind of Rock at all for that matter).

This is by no means a poor product in the sense that it is poorly made, but clearly it is for fans and collectors only and even for them it is likely to be a purchase to complete the collection and not one for repeated listens. It is thus strongly recommended to go for Oldfield's earlier albums (such as the recent ones I mentioned above, particularly The Songs Of Distant Earth, as well as his classic albums from the 70's and early 80's) before venturing this deep into his vast discography.

One (and a half) star only, I'm afraid

Report this review (#258042)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#981983)
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars It took me a couple of days to actually sit down and listen to "Light + Shade" few times in a row. It's no easy task, we have some 82 minutes worth of music here, separated in two CDs; allegedly the key idea was to make two contrasting sets, one mellow and bright, the other darker in mood and disturbed. Frankly, I don't see a dramatic difference between each other. Let me explain.

All compoistions are instrumental and could be described - if you are into genres - as a cross between electronica and new-age, with some parts as minimalistic as ambient music. Sometimes there is a bit of spoken word or unintelligible choirs, but not serving as lyrics per se. Oldfield is definitely trying to set moods rather than tell a story or deliver a message. As we know it's nothing new for a middle-aged master. "Songs of Distant Earth" and parts of "The Millenium Bell" largely fit the same bill, one could even argue that underlying ideas of "Light + Shade" are common to most of Mike's work. But I'm afraid this time he dropped a ball.

I don't think there is much going on in here. Music is very laid-back and doesn't progress too much. By listening to first twenty seconds (or so) of any song you already know how it's gonna sound in the middle and the end. It's not necessarily a bad thing, I'd gladly include half of numbers from "Light + Shade" in my chillout/writing session/morning coffee playlists. "Angelique", "First Steps" or "Sunset" are worth mentioning on this occasion. Soothing textures of pianos and synthesizers, downtempo beats, some trademark twangy solos here and there. Simple, but pleasing acoustic guitar melodies and occasional Celtic waves serve the same purpose.

But there is the other side of a coin, plenty of songs getting old quickly, either because of annoying repetitions ("Our Father") or TOO much Ibiza. He was still clearly influenced by house/trance scene of the time, so whenever he goes that direction, music reaches amateur scifi/cyberpunk movie soundtrack levels. If anyone is familiar with a PC game from the Y2K, Deus Ex, you'll understand what I'm raving about here. "Slipstream" is probably the best example of that route.

In my opinion Oldfield too often treads a thin line between a tasty chillout/ambient and simple elevator music. Listening to "Surfing" I feel like it would be a fitting background for 1990s infomercial on waterproof watches.

I've also mentioned there is not much of a difference in atmosphere between Light and Shade here. Please listen to "Tears of an Angel"; that song is very representative of the whole album for couple of reasons:

- although it's featured on Shade CD, it fits perfectly with Light tracks, definitely the same mold

- the intro brings together irritating violins and very generic choirs for no good purpose - it just dissipates after 30 seconds, never to be heard again

- on a plus side, guitar lines are pleasant, but not earth-shattering, completely in line with the rest.

Honestly there is a fair bit of unnerving melodies here, now when I think of it. "Romance" is a very distasteful cover and "Nightshade" is another piece of poor sci-fi soundtrack. It also brings down my rating a little bit.

I see "Light + Shade" as compilation of downtempo, chillout tunes, very good for yoga or playing chess - save for a few annoying tracks. It's not that advanced composition-wise and certainly doesn't approach the vision and magnificence of "Songs of Distant Earth". However, those looking for a minimalistic background with Mike's guitar and New Age touch will probably find some pleasures here. Thus, two stars is justified.

Report this review (#1945906)
Posted Saturday, July 7, 2018 | Review Permalink

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