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Mike Oldfield - Heaven's Open CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.48 | 173 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars After a slew of sub-par albums in the late eighties, in 1990 MIKE OLDFIELD released his experimental 'Amarok', which many consider the best thing he ever did (though I'm not one of them). Within months he'd followed it up with this, his contractual obligation to Virgin fulfilled by its release.

For once, the pop side outshines the progressive side. OLDFIELD offers five finely crafted tracks, all featuring his own vocals, albeit heavily processed. A brave move, but perhaps not so brave given his mind was already on his next project, the first with his new label. 'No Dream' is perhaps the highlight of the album, a slow building track, with dozens of layers of sound. OLDFIELD really was getting good at this sort of pop-rock, just as it vanished from the charts. Of the other tracks, 'Make Make' is a good effort, 'Mr Shame' and 'Gimme Back' are dispensable, and the title track is excellent.

I'd like to know what the great man was thinking with 'Music From The Balcony'. It sounds like he's picked up music fragments from Amarok's cutting room floor and pasted them together with no regard for the overall shape of the composition. 'Experimental' is a label that really means 'buyer beware': in my experience it really should be preceded by the word 'failed' - as is the case here. OLDFIELD dispenses with melody, instead relying on his sound collage and sudden changes in volume to make an impression on the listener. It's a fun fest for lovers of unusual rhythms, but he doesn't give you enough time to get used to one beat before he's on to the next. We even have a Duane Eddy lick about half way through. And what's with the chimp noises? Listening to this track is like flicking through all the stations on an avant-garde radio spectrum. Sorry, but this is MIKE OLDFIELD'S nadir.

Things could only get better from here - and they did. His output in the 1990s was consistently better than that of the 1980s.

russellk | 2/5 |


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