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Ringing out the bells and beating the old drum....?
on 16 February 2013
So Tubular Beats, what's it all about? With so many Tubular Bells albums out there a little clarifacation may be required.
The tracks on this album are remixes of a range of old classics far broader in choice than the Tubular cannon. They are not the remasters or re-recordings we have become accustomed to expect from Oldfield and his peers. Mike has never been one for convention though and these re-mixes whilst being great club-dance-trance versions of old classics, feature new riffs and noodling from the guitar maestro.
So what about the results? I think it is fair to say that Oldfield fans of old may find it difficult to warm to these tracks but I wouldn't be so hasty, just don't go in expecting a return to multi-layered hand-crafted mastery and you won't be disappointed. Much has been said about Oldfield's forray into club and electro territory and I for one have been known to heavily slate it in my reviews. This album though is vastly different to all that, this time round he gets it right. I always thought Oldfield was at his best when working with someone else, I'm thinking about Tom Newman on the early masterpieces, David Bedford on Incantations, Pierre Moerlern and Morris Pert on Five Miles Out, etc. Here he has Torsten Stenzel, otherwise known as York, to show him the way. Maybe Light and Shade and Tres Lunas wouldn't have been so awful with this chap on board!? Importantly though, this isn't an album that pretends to be trance and misses the mark, this is the real deal with all the right sounds and production, this is the first truly modern Oldfield album in a generation.
I do though have reservations about the To France and Moonlight Shadow remixes They're just too cheesy for me, I can see them working really well on the radio though. I also find the new track; Never Too Far rather boring. It's far too familiar territory for Oldfield, very well produced but melodically could have been written any time in the last 20 years. York & Mike's Electrofunkmix of Guilty and Northstar though sound better than the originals to me so overall I'm happy.
I'm not sure that Tubular Beats works as an album though. I've prefered to listen to one or two tracks at a time, maybe I'm getting too old for this sort of thing! I certainly couldn't dance all the way through, those days are well behind me. Not sure about the sleeve and title either, it's not a Tubular Bells album and I would liked to have seen some interesting new artwork to add to the Oldfield mythology.
If you've come to Oldfield because you liked his Olympic appearance this album will not disappoint, buy it. If what you yearn for is a return to the Oldfield of Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge you'd be better off downloading Mohribold by Andrew Taylor. It's the only thing that's come close since Amarok. Google it, I downloaded it from a site called bandcamp. I've got a lot of mileage out of Mohribold and have raved on about it to every Oldfield and prog fan I can.