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Mike Oldfield - Light + Shade CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

2.75 | 174 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
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.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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