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Mike's Best Work Ever?
on 7 September 2006
You are either a big fan of Mike Oldfield or you probably haven't heard of him. When he dies he will be remembered for his concept debut album, Tubular Bells and this album won't get a mention.
But I believe this to be his finest hour. Mike has gone on record (excuse pun) that he was never completely satisfied with Tubular Bells so who am I to complain?
SoDE is a unique album. Never before nor since has he managed to create such variety and depth in a jam packed recording.
The album has 17 tracks but ostensibly they run on giving an uninterrupted listening experience.
The album starts off fairly quietly and finishes up with a bang. As usual, Mike likes to build up his music so that his best efforts are usually at the end. Like watching a thriller movie, the climax is realised and you want to come back for more.
Some people view this album as a chill-out recording. Indeed, one of the tracks, "Crystal Clear", has in fact a voice taken from psychology, and is the second best track.
The penultimate track, "Ascension" is a sort of reprise of all that has gone before and mixed wonderfully as only Mike can.
Mike the perfectionist musician meets Mike the perfectionist audio engineer. How can he fail?
Throughout SoDE there are many varied voices to be heard with just a smattering of lyrics. This is Mike's trademark. There are actually no "songs" on this album. This is an instrumental piece of work. But the voices are also instruments and can vary from actual "live" recordings to haunting melodies and also the surreal. But it never sounds weird. Just brilliantly timed to fade in and fade out with Mike playing a myriad of instruments.
The whole album oozes perfection from start to finish and at times Mike's guitar work is exciting and breathtaking.
A chill-out album it may be but after you have heard it all you will be left with an afterglow feeling that only this New Age type of music can achieve.
If you only buy one album by Mike Oldfield, make it this one.
Wear the cans, crank up the volume and chill out man!