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Mike Oldfield - Music of the Spheres CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.04 | 210 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Musica universalis.

The ancient theory that every celestial body has an inner music. On this album, Mike Oldfield takes that train of thought and applies it to his already spacey music to create this piece of work. Mike (in the liner notes) claims that this album sounds like what it would sound like to release the music in all the Moons, stars and Suns in the universe. Excellent for a guy who writes long instrumental voyages to come up with a concept like this and base an album around it, but the challenge becomes if he can actually write something colossal enough to justify being compared to astral bodies. Enter the Sinfonia Sfera Orchestra, an astral body in itself of over 50 people to back Oldfield in his quest. This is the Music Of The Spheres.

Right off the bat we can notice the orchestra kicking right into something that sounds almost like the opening to Tubular Bells as part one of the album starts with Harbinger. Almost unfortunate is the fact that it seems like Oldfield was so concerned with conducting the orchestra he's left his guitar laying by his side, which we won't get to hear from very noticeably until his first solo segment in part c of part 1, Silhouette, in which he's accompanied by a soothing piano as he plays a softer part of the song.

It would be tedious both to read and write a second by second review of the entire album, so I won't. However I can sum up the album pretty quickly. What this sounds like is a very well organized orchestra playing a number for a large audience in a theater fronted by Mike Oldfield waving his arms in the air at the more cataclysmic parts of the songs and occasionally busting out the guitar for a couple soft moments. So all you out there looking to hear Oldfield rip on the guitar are in the wrong spot unfortunately, but assuming that most people will like the orchestra, then this album might just perk up your ear.

The style that always comes to mind when I listen to this album is a soundtrack for something of fantasy like a movie or video game. This is actually a good thing in my books, because the music is actually pretty easy to follow along with, and thanks to the two long segments of the song (something like he did back in the Tubular Bells/Hergest Ridge/Ommadawn days) being broken up into even shorter segments the album seems to flow a bit better as the tracks just blend into one another while still maintaining their own unique segments.

Standout parts of the album include the opener Harbinger the apocalyptically-folky Tempest, the jumpy Aurora (if this were a soundtrack it would be used just outside a town as the journey begins) and the coda Musica Universalis which brings the album down to a fine point by expressing the theme of the entire album in one track. The longest track on the album, Musica Universalis is another reminder of Oldfield's glorious 70s days and becomes a blend of the sound unique to this album while bringing over some familiar themes from Tubular Bells. The song starts to really pick up around the middle mark until it slows again and prepares for the song's climax right near the end. And then it's all over.

Mike Oldfield has constantly evolved as an artist over the years and this latest offering shows him at a dynamic point. Working with a full on orchestra to create music that is attempting to sound like astral bodies. Does it work? Yes and no, the album doesn't have any full on segments that reach stellar heights, but it does manage to keep an even pace and likability that makes the album worth while. Recommended for people who don't mind when Oldfield lays down the guitar for a bit and anyone who likes to hear an orchestra at the command of the great composer who is Mike Oldfield this one gets 3 stars. Good! But not essential by any means.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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