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Mike Oldfield - Music Of The Spheres CD (album) cover

MUSIC OF THE SPHERES

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.03 | 179 ratings

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thief
2 stars I never believed in classical music with rock elements, at least not in the long run. For certain there are examples of succesful songs merging two esthetics, but to have an entire album/symphony with such underlying philosophy? I don't think one could justify it with Moody Blues or Pink Floyd. Better examples of this approach are "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" (or "Sarabande"), and even if I admire the effort and enjoy its parts, as a whole it failed to achieve its goals. However, it seemed that Mike could pull it off, and "Music of the Spheres" is the closest he ever tried. The concept of musica universalis is a good excuse to merge contrasting genres. And who's better than Oldfield to take the challenge? He was so succesful with pairing folk instruments, electronic beats and distorted guitars for decades, right?

Understandably, the leading instruments are classical guitar and grand piano, most of the time. Although Mike doesn't play the latter, he had much more experience with it than with strings or brass. And you can hear it on this record, unfortunately. Brass instruments appear rarely, oboes and clarinets play secondary role as well, and strings... well, I'd just say they're not leading too often and mostly serve as a backing track with very basic moves.

I also don't see too much of a development here. Individual movements offer some delightful melodies ("Animus", "The Tempest", "Empyrean" or beginning of "Shabda"), but they don't reinforce one another, synergy between them is very limited. I really miss the mastery of classical music paragons, the mastery of arrangement, revisiting memorable motifs and epic buildup. "Music of the Spheres" is too modest in this regard.

What do I like here, then? In my opinion there are no serious blunders ruining the experience. As I said, there is a fair share of charming melodies (add "Silhouette" to the list), guaranteeing the listener will sit through 40+ minutes with ease. Especially if he's having something else to do in the meantime - once again Mike Oldfield delivered a calming, even soothing collection of music. So it's a bonus, I see myself revisiting "Music of the Spheres" from time to time just its peacefulness.

But in the same time, I'd like it to have more hooks, diversity, more memorable parts and - most importantly - a strike of genius that Mike's capable of. Instead I have a bunch of "Classical Lite FM" compositions with underused orchestra that I could easily live without. Oh well, this might be too harsh: I honestly applaud "The Tempest" and see true beauty in there.

A two star record with (sparse) four stars moments.

thief | 2/5 |

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