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Mike Oldfield - Voyager CD (album) cover

VOYAGER

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

3.09 | 215 ratings

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Progosopher
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 first release than with anything The Chieftans, say, had ever done. The album is entirely instrumental. Most of the music is soft and lyrical. He brings a number of venerable artists from Celtic music, such as Matt Molloy on flutes, Liam O'Flynn and Davy Spillane on pipes and tin whistle, Maire Breatnach and Sean Keane on fiddle, among others. Oldfield himself concentrates on guitar, mandolin, and keys. The pieces are a combination of traditional, arranged by Oldfield, and original compositions. The melodies are lovely, each stamped with Oldfield's unique sound. There is also, occasional grandeur, such as found in The Hero, Flowers in the Forest, and the closer Mont. St. Michele. These last two are really the only that bear special mention. I have one other version of Flowers in the Forest in my collection, performed by Fairport Convention. Their rendition is vocal, soft, and slow. Oldfield's version is an instrumental march which starts softly, builds up, and reaches a grand plateau of emotion and sound. It is very reminiscent of Vangelis' style of starting with a rhythm and simple rendition of the melody, only to build up the orchestration. The vocals by Pat Walsh (I believe) accentuate the rise in magnificence on this piece. It is my favorite on the whole album. Mont St. Michel provides the true climax, though. It is a multi-part epic with numerous changes of mood and dynamic. The London Symphony Orchestra is used to generate symphonic bombast here. The Celtic lyricism of melody is almost completely absent, but it does reassert itself in the final moments. This is, as you may imagine, one of the original compositions.

Mike Oldfield's Voyager has a unique place among all his other albums. Celtic music was much in vogue in 1997 when the album was released, and it seems he sought to ride that particular wave. The result is atypical in some ways, but in other ways not. None other has the same quality or sonic palette, yet there are the usual guitar tones. Overall, I find it a good album, but as so many of the pieces blur together, and that it is so frequently reminiscent of other artists, I cannot recommend it too highly. Enjoyable, I grant it three stars.

Progosopher | 3/5 |

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