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Mike Oldfield

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Mike Oldfield Voyager album cover
3.10 | 257 ratings | 20 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Song Of The Sun (4:32)
2. Celtic Rain (4:40)
3. The Hero (5:01)
4. Women Of Ireland (6:27)
5. The Voyager (4:23)
6. She Moves Through The Fair (4:05)
7. Dark Island (5:43)
8. Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings (5:03)
9. Flowers Of The Forest (6:01)
10. Mont St. Michel (12:18)

Total Time: 58:13

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / acoustic (nylon & steel), electric & Roland synth guitars, mandolin, grand piano, synths (Korg Trinity, Roland JD990 & JV1080 & XP50), programming, arranger (3,4,6,7,9) & producer

- Liam O' Flynn / Uillean pipes
- Davy Spillane / Uillean Pipes, low whistle
- Highland Pipers (Chris Apps, Roger Huth, Ian Macey, Bob MacIntosh)
- Matt Molloy / flutes, tin whistles
- John Myers / tin whistle, fiddle
- Sean Keane / fiddle
- Maire Breatnach / fiddle
- Pat Walsh / ? (vocals)
- London Symphony Orchestra
- London Voices / chorus vocals
- Noel Eccles / percussion
- Henry Jackman / programming
- Robin Smith / arrangement & conducting (10), co-arranger (1,4,6,7)

Releases information

Artwork: Bill Smith Studio with David Scheinmann

CD WEA ‎- 0630-15896-2 (1996, Europe)
CD Reprise Records ‎- 9 46487-2 (1996, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Voyager Music

MIKE OLDFIELD Voyager ratings distribution

(257 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Voyager reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great change of direction for Voyager. The cheesy part about it though has to be the cover! Musically it is very pleasant and Oldield plays the Celtic theme very well. I think there are a few dull moments but the better songs like ' The song of the sun', 'Celtic rain', 'The Hero' and the superb' Wild Goose flaps it's wings' save the day.I still can't get into 'Mont. St Michel' though.Normally Oldfields longer tracks are the most accessible for me but this one eludes me.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Local hero

There is a strong Celtic influence and feel to this album, which finds Oldfield in what appears to be a very relaxed mood. While the music is pleasant, it borders in places on easy listening. I couldn't help but picture Oldfield in full Hank Marvin mode, smiling at the camera with each relaxed note he picks out on his guitar.

While Mike sticks mainly to his various guitars, there are a large number of guest artists who contribute percussion, pipes, whistle, fiddle etc. There are many familiar themes included, the tune to "She moved through the fair" for example was used by Simple Minds on their "Belfast child" single. Some tracks which are listed as being "traditional" are actually 20th century compositions, duly adopted and interpreted by Oldfield ("Women of Ireland", is an example). "Dark Island", is one of those melodies which sounds entirely familiar, but I am at a loss to put a name to it. The track is bizarrely interrupted mid-way through by a burst of Handel's "Sarabande".

I'm not sure if it's just coincidence, but "The hero" has similarities to Mark Knopfler's wonderful theme music to the excellent film "Local hero" (set mainly in the North of Scotland). "Flowers of the forest" borrows heavily from a traditional Scottish fishing song called "The Mingulay boat song" to the extent that the "vocals" all but sing the original lyrics. The sound of the pipes here further emphasises the Scottish origins.

Oldfield's musicianship if of course exemplary, but there is little, if any, of the complex structures and intricate guitar work of his other albums. He's working well within himself here. No criticism is intended, it is refreshing to hear him adopting a more straight forward approach (as he did on some of his instrumental singles). Indeed, given the way he has introduced Celtic influences to many of his works, "Voyager" is really just a logical progression for him.

From a prog perspective, this album is not particularly strong. From a more general point of view, it is an enjoyable, easy to listen to diversion.

I have the cassette version, which has the tracks in a completely different order for some reason. It doesn't seem to be to do with balancing the side lengths, as there's still a long gap at the end of side one! "Mont St Michel" becomes the last track and the others all shuffle about. This is probably a more satisfactory ending to the album as the track is a longer more structured piece, with heavy orchestration. It sounds a bit out of place in the context of the rest of the album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Oh .. this is not my thing at all even though musically I don't say that this is a bad album. The reason is that this album is nothing so peculiar about the song, the arrangement or even the performance. Everything just flows like an easy listening song. It starts with "The Song of The Sun" which has rich arrangement as it combines traditional sounds with catchy melody and traditional instruments. There are influences from eastern music - a bit - that makes a good experience listening to the song/. The guitar work is nice. The other tracks - most of them - are flat song like the music while you waiting at lobby of a hotel. Nothing is special that leads to any proggy thing. Acoustic guitar is the main instrument used throughout different tracks. Rhythm section is mellow keyboard with stable beats - no tempo or style changes. So, where is the prog? It's probably Mike Oldfield composed this music merely for meditation purposes as all songs have relatively stable structure with little variations / improvisations. Track 9 "Flowers of The Forest" is also a nice song with Scotland (?) traditional instruments.

Nothing wrong, actually, for not being prog as there are many of them are featured here as well. It's probably the compositions are too boring for me. I definitely not recommend you to buy the CD even though it's not bad at all. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Prognut
3 stars For some reason this album keep coming back to my CD player over and over, thru the years. Not the best of MO by any lenght of the imagination, and certainly not progressive in the whole sense. With Mike however, I always said if I have to listen to Pop music, I rather listen to MO in the 90's output, you know what I mean.

This is Mike in Ibiza (Spain) experimenting with Celtic Music, the way he feels it. I like the most 2 tracks: "She Moves.." and the suite "Mont St. Michel" where Mike again proves that still at the end of the 90' still can make "great music".

Not a buy for everybody, to me the album deserve 4 stars. But, in reality should be strictly for fans only... I personaly like to listen this one when I am feeling down, or on a rainy days.... Thanks Mike for this relaxing music...

Review by russellk
3 stars Now this is crazy. I know variety is the spice of life and all that, and I was one of many who criticised MIKE OLDFIELD for being predictable throughout the 1980s, but here he's chosen to follow up a space rock album with an album of Celtic tunes. Twenty seconds into the album you know you're listening to something different to 'The Songs of Distant Earth.'

In 1989 OLDFIELD put out the pop album 'Earth Moving'. 1990's 'Amarok' was experimental, a challenging successor to 'Ommadawn.' He followed this with the rock of 'Heaven's Open', then reprised 'Tubular Bells'. Not content with four wildly divergent albums, he created the space rock 'The Songs of Distant Earth'. And now this!

Full points for covering the field. But that's about the best I can say for this record. It's an excellent rendering of Celtic music both traditional and original, in a very CLANNAD sort of fashion, smoothed out for the 1990s palate. Being celtic myself, I find myself preferring THE CHIEFTAINS or, if I'm in a contrary mood, THE POGUES. This is just too bland, too syrupy, too reminiscent of 'A Woman's Heart' or whatever the latest bastardisation is entitled. In my view this is the first OLDFIELD album fully deserving of the perjorative 'New Age' tag, and unfortunately it colours his other works.

Will you like the music? Well, it's undeniably beautiful, without ever rising to the glorious heights OLDFIELD can take us - a limitation of the genre, I'm afraid. It's certainly well played, if restrained. No song outstays its welcome, and there is variety within the narrow framework of the album. In 'Women Of Ireland', the album's mesmerising single, we have a track worth listening to. But I'm far more interested in OLDFIELD'S celtic interpretations when they're presented in a progressive context.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This album is not a memorable one. By this, I mean that there aren't really outstanding tracks listed here but I have to admit that this is a nice voyage into Mike's repertoire.

Ambient music, nice melodies and folkish flavours : this is the offering. A composition like "Women of Ireland" is very pleasant and is my favourite song out of this album. One has an emotional rendez-vous while listening to this well known melody. My highlight.

Don't expect lots of waves during this album. Just a succession of good tracks. The whole not reaching the best of Mike's work but the music displayed is rather satisfactory. While listening to "Belfast Child", one spends a good time. Lots of great folkish influences in here. Ooops, it's She Moves Through The Fair but the Minds did interpret this Irish folk piece in 1996 already. Anyway, it is a pleasant version which should suit any Oldfield's fan.

The whole of this album holds some enjoyable music, that's for sure. It is not on par with Mike's best works, but he delivered quite a good album. The orchestra during the closing number is probably the weakest part of the whole. Three stars is my rating. Which means that this one is a good album.

Review by The Crow
3 stars After twe awesome The Songs of Distant Earth, Olfield released this decent celtic music album... Not really interesting, but good anyway.

Far from being progressive, this commercial change of direction in the Oldfield's music digs in the musician's roots, trying to give us a worthy celtic experience... The result is pleasant, very good for being background ambience for a peaceful rainy afternoon. The magnificient production rich in details in previous Odfield's works like Tubular Bells 2 is replaced here for acoustic instruments, like uleian pipes and acoustic guitars, all well played and produced, but not really mind blowing.

Speaking about Oldfield, this is just a bit disappointing, while some of his better works like Tubular Bells or Amarok have also some celtic influence... But Voyager is far from being spectacular, and has almost nothing to do with his better opuses. With only one exception... Mont St. Michel, the best song on the album. A symphonic and cinematic long composition wich transports you to the fields and places the title points. Great track in the best Oldfield's tradition, wich makes this album worth.

Best songs: the rest of the songs are also good, but without reaching te peaks of Mount St. Michel. The Song of the Sun, based in a theme of a group from my country called Luar Na Lubre, is not bad. The version of the popular Wome of Ireland, along with the Olfield's original The Voyager are also good tracks.

Conclusion: being far from the best Oldfield's efforths, I think this celtic project could have been really better... Maybe too conservative and not really risky. Another flaw is the lack of original material, too many versions in my opinión. But Ok... The presence of Mount St. Michel makes this album a good choice if you like celtic music, because this is a really worthy track. Symphonic, spectacular and really well made, this song demonstrates what this album could have been... But unfortunately isn't.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars There has always been a Folk element to Mike Oldfield's music. Most of his more popular albums such as Ommadawn, Incantations, Q.E.2, etc. all have strong folky and Celtic influences. With Voyager, Oldfield goes further in this direction. Several of the numbers on this all instrumental album are traditional and only four are Oldfield originals.

There is nothing offensive or annoying about this album; it is mellow and quite relaxing music. The sonic quality is high and the musicianship too, but there is very little to catch a Prog fans interest. I can enjoy this album in its entirety when in the right mood, but it does not leave any lasting impression. Overall, this is too relaxing for my taste.

This is therefore an album I would recommend for Oldfield's fans only.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Try to ignore (if you can) the embarrassing cover portrait, showing a buffed and shirtless Mike Oldfield posing al fresco like a reject from a Riverdance chorus line. I'm tempted to view it as a not very subtle exploitation of the public craze for all things Celtic, but this isn't the first time an ancient Gaelic influence has surfaced on a Mike Oldfield album. And the music at least shows a distinct improvement over his (inexplicably) popular 1994 New Age tranquilizer, "The Songs of Distant Earth".

The newer album is split evenly between updated arrangements of traditional melodies and original compositions, including the orchestral semi-epic "Mont St. Michel" (not exactly a sacred Celtic site, but never mind). The older tunes, perhaps not surprisingly, fare best, even after being smothered in sticky digital syrup: lush synthesized strings, lots of spacious reverb, and so forth. Cineastes will recognize "Women of Ireland" from its prominent use in the 1975 Stanley Kubrick film "Barry Lyndon", and the song maintains its haunting period flavor despite the synthetic facelift.

According to one source the album was intended to be entirely acoustic, and played on traditional hand- held instruments: fiddles, uillean pipes, tin whistles and so forth. But Oldfield was said to be persuaded by the (obviously brain-dead) daughter of a Warner Brothers executive to add the electronic keyboards and guitars, in a misguided effort to make the music more accessible.

I guess all that expensive self-assertiveness therapy failed to stick. And too bad, because although the ersatz ethnic charm of the finished album is certainly easy on the ears, the original uncompromised vision could have resulted in something truly special.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There are a few much maligned recordings within Oldfield's opulent discography, mainly because most fans would be content with endless versions and "subversions" of Tubular Bells, Ommadawn or Amarok. Occasional forays into pop (such as the often intensely disliked Discovery, Crisis and Earth Moving albums), lush soundtrack music (The Killing Fields) and electronica (the brilliant Songs from the Distant Earth and the sizzling Light + Shadow). Theses last 2 remain my favorite MO albums even though they are sneered at by the majority as needless fluff!

"Voyager" also fits nicely into the mix, many finding this a weak presentation that goes too far into the Celtic/folk tradition to be appreciated by the bulk of prog fans. I say, too bad for you, missing out on one of his sleeper works. This one is decidedly more oblique than his usual material, in fact, 6 of the 10 tracks are reworked traditional Irish/Celt folk arrangements. Mike is surrounded by classical orchestra (LSO), choir and a slew of famed Irish musicians ( Davy Spillane and Matt Molloy, among others).

The trads: The opener is well-know "The Song of the Sun" by Bieito Romero and sets pretty well the standard for the flow, a lovely melody and gentle serenity. "The Hero" is another Irish folk slow-cooker, a heavily nuanced tune with pipes, flutes and assorted Gaelic instruments, sparkled with MO's acoustic guitar that ultimately blooms into a massive chorus of exaltation. On "Women of Ireland" his unctuous guitar solo is one of his very best, an oozing expression of beauty and seduction, with a tranquil middle section that only elevates his celebrated picking technique to another level, all mastery and feel. "She Moves Through the Fair" is a well-known Irish folk classic, also brilliantly recorded by Lorenna McKennitt, among many others. The main theme is immediately recognizable by even the rock and roll crowd as something once heard, somewhere, sometime. It is drop- dead gorgeous melody both diaphanous and ethereal. The violins are impeccably poignant, as if crying in pain. "Dark Island" is another little ditty that has been heard many times by these ears, a sultry acoustic guitar exercise that does not fail to impress, especially when the arrangement is given fully orchestral treatment. The handclap addition is delightfully subtle and apropos (details, Watson, details!). When the melody is reprised once again, the mood just vibrates with sheer splendor. What a gorgeous piece of music this is! Pfffff! "Flowers of the Forest" is the final traditional song given the Oldfield touch again starting off sweetly and evolving into some serious bombast (it would have been perfect on the Titanic soundtrack instead of that overwrought Celine Dion abortion).

The Oldfield compositions: "Celtic Rain" is an Oldfield song that is as vaporous as it gets, literally meditative and ponderous. Is it New Age? Of course not! The music is very mellow, very lush and pastoral, brooding and moody, directed by Mike's acoustic and electric guitar. The title track is typical of his past and future guitar cameos, where simple percussion and moody keys provide the platform for his musical finger painting. Inspired by the cold reality of Irish/Scot history and massive exile, the air has a profound sense of melancholia and proud sadness that permeates the Gaelic music and culture. "Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings" is electric axe time and Mike just slithers along as only he can, each note exuding from his inner muse with aplomb and vivacious ardor. The pace is nevertheless placid and peaceful. "Mont St-Michel" is a beautiful "presqu'ile" in Northern France, where Victor Hugo was imprisoned by his nemesis Napoleon III, today a Unesco protected site and a jewel of incredible beauty. It's also one of Oldfield's signature pieces, a perfect resume of what he represents as a modern musical artist. Within its nearly dozen minutes, the entire gamut of emotions is there to witness and to enjoy. The blooming expanses from a single melodic line, the highly British/Scot/Welsh /Irish accoutrements, the colossal symphonics abetted by lush orchestrations, the delicate details of tin whistle, mandolin and recorders, all unified in the cause. When Mike enters with a solo, you just know its going to hit some personal nerve of contentment. Few if any contemporary musicians can claim this right. This is another piece of undeniable proof that he was regarded as music's wunderkind when Tubular Bells clanged on the world scene (Virgin's very first release, making Oldfiled and Richard Branson instant millionaires). He has matured, progressed, veered and swerved many times but he remains Mike Oldfield. While not a masterpiece by any stretch, Voyager remains a bold chapter in the Oldfield adventure, a little aroma of Eire laced into his rather inimitable recipe. Ideal music for a Spring Sunday Morn' (a St Patrick's Day soundtrack). This album figures highly on my most underrated prog albums of all-time list and I find it exciting to be one of the few who really likes this release.

4.5 emerald isles

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars If you are a fan of the Celtic classics being interpreted and expanded upon on "Voyager", you are unlikely to find any preferred versions here, and if you are interested in hearing standards performed in the spirit of Mr Trad Arr, I advise you not to start here.

While MIKE OLDFIELD's credentials in Celtic influenced progressive rock have been well documented since his earliest collaborations and solo work, his strength has remained in that fusion. Here he goes all Irish and Scottish new age, with virtually all tracks intentionally lullaby- ed down. The strength of these immortal melodies has always laid in their adaptation to a variety of tempos. Try listening to some early LOREENA MCKENNITT, CLANNAD, or NIGHTNOISE for a better sense of the dynamism of this style. Or even perhaps to the excellent closer here, "Mont St Michel", which breaks the mold, if a bit late. True, his guitars are always welcome, and with material like "Song of the Sun" and "The Dark Island" they really can't miss, but the renditions barely scratch the surface of their underlying profundity.

While Oldfield's intentions may be noble if characteristically well timed, "Voyager" represents basic land transportation in a soaring genre, and is primarily of interest for Oldfield fans and new age fans seeking out a reliable name brand and a risk-free connection to traditional British Isles folk.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Mid-1990s was a good time for Celtic music, I suppose. Enya struck gold (or rather platinum) on "Shepherd Moons" and "The Memory of Trees", Loreena McKennitt had "The Mask and Mirror" and "The Book of Secrets" very high on the charts, the movie Braveheart brought much interest to Scottish themes as ... (read more)

Report this review (#2023583) | Posted by thief | Monday, September 10, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Along with 'Guitars', 'Voyager' is an album unappreciated and unrecognized in the progressive field. And I can understand why. In general, no appeal to the ear of the progressive public. I consider good music products, with ups and downs, but with his unique guitar as protagonist. Voyager foc ... (read more)

Report this review (#984704) | Posted by sinslice | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars There has always been a bit of Celtic spicing to Mike Oldfield's music that can be traced to his very beginnings with Tubular Bells and which emerged to various extents throughout his career. For Voyager, he brought that spice to the forefront and created and album more in line with Enya's firs ... (read more)

Report this review (#571174) | Posted by Progosopher | Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Okay, I am a great fan of Mike, but this album left me flat. I know it has great musicianship, and probably great Celtic influences and inspiration, but it just seems to be nothing more than a lot of new-age boring music to me. And I REALLY tried to get into it, too. Everytime I played this I ... (read more)

Report this review (#273786) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The album is full of nice celtic music, but definitely is not progressive. In fact is almost new age music. I listen to it sometimes and I enjoy some of the tracks but I do not recommend it for prog listeners who don't know Mike's music. ... (read more)

Report this review (#128106) | Posted by Gabriel.V | Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have an special feeling to this album, since it was a birthday present, and what a birthday present! . I also like celtic influenced music, so this was an excellent addition to my musical collection. It may not be the most ambitious or bright Mike Olfield's album, but I think it is an enjoya ... (read more)

Report this review (#85476) | Posted by shyman | Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars If I should point out the qualities of "Voyager" I have to say it's the homogenic or consequent style. It feels obvious and simple, in a positive way. He sticks to the theme all the way through. But it's too soft for me, and the smooth celtic moods just doesn't excite me one bit. It's not that ... (read more)

Report this review (#76156) | Posted by 1971 | Monday, April 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For those who usually think Oldfield ended with the advent of the 80s: you really don't know what they are talking about. Not only he opened the 90's with one of his best and most progressive album (Amarok). He also managed to produce this jewel of celtic music, rounded with one of the better orches ... (read more)

Report this review (#28481) | Posted by Paco Fox | Wednesday, April 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Excellent album!! Its a other kind of Oldfield's sound more celtic and classical attitude on this disc. Not very much prog style. Oldfield takes some celtic classics like Women of Ireland & She moves through the fair with his magic touch. Very relaxing music...It's perfect for the bohemia people !! ... (read more)

Report this review (#28480) | Posted by | Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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