I am a fan of mike Oldfield and I adore his albums tubular bells, ommadawn, herguest ridge, platinum, incantations, five miles out and songs of distant earth. Many of the other albums by him I was a little disappointed with even though they had some good ideas. With light and shade I was not sure what it was like and picked it up on instinct. But when I got it home I hated it till my 5th listen.
With Light I disagree to many other reviews. I believe that light is the better album from the two. The music is more mellow and easier to listen too. There are some really nice songs that are just brilliant like the piano driven blackbird or the more soul full guitar on closer. This side also has the longest track on at 10 munities which I think is amazing. light is his less Ibiza feeling album from the two and is not hard to listen to for a person who is not keen on electronic sounding music. Much of the album still sounds electronic but its got less loops and repetitive instruments. This disk is more relaxing and I think better than shade.
Shade to me is his more Ibiza friendly side. It has more loops and electronic sounds mixed in and the songs sound more hectic than on light. There are some really good songs on shade but less not near as many as light. I personally thought I would like shade more as I prefer the darker sounding songs.
Over both albums there are some amazing songs and for the money they are up for it makes it a good buy as it's still the price of a single album when new so you do get about an hour and a bit of music that is good but a bit that is just ok. I personally do not like the vocals on this album I find them annoying and not really needed. His previous albums didn't have allot of vocals and where amazing. With light and shade this is a different mike Oldfield to what I loved but it is still a descent album and the 4 tracks that you can mix yourself is a good idea. It gives you the opportunity to listen to it broken down and it also lets you remove bitts you don't like from them tracks and is just a fun thing to mess around with. this album for a fan of his early work is a grower.
Mike Oldfield continues to produce fascinating music that cannot be categorized as it is so 'unpredictable'- and this new double album is no exception. I have been fortunate to hear a promotional copy of the full album, and can recommend this album to his usual followers, as well as anyone who is interested in discovering music that can take you on a journey. The 'Light' cd opens with 'Angelique'- a catchy piano hook, which builds up with energetic percussion and trademark Oldfield guitar (which fans will be pleased to hear is prominent throughout the album.) 'Blackbird' is piano-dominated and makes for pleasant listening. 'The gate' features mesmerising vocals and is thoroughly relaxing. 'First Steps' builds up in classic Oldfield tradition (fans of 'Voyager's' Mont St. Michel will notice some similarities) 'Closer' and 'Our Father' stick with the celtic/Voyager theme. Rocky returns to solo piano/film music (Michael Nyman-like) and disc 1 closes with a beautiful piano-led theme that certainly depicts the title, 'sunset' - OK i'll be honest, this one is a little like the theme to the dire BBC soap ELDORADO :) For me, the 'Shade' cd contains the stand-out tracks. Fans of Jean Michel Jarre will do well to hear this, as Oldfield gives him a run for his money in the electronica department! 'Quicksilver' is fairly dancy. Nothing 'out of the ordinary' but still good. 'Resolution' contains a strong guitar hook and absorbing vocal harmonies on the words 're-so-lu-tion' and the wailing vocal/guitar passage is superb. 'Slipstream' is standard fare. Very synth-based/techno. 'Surfing' is a kind of 80's revival of Oldfield songs. Great guitar solo- this is one thing listeners will notice- consistently good guitar passages. 'Tears Of An Angel' after the random fast-strings opener breaks into a brilliant, unmistakably Oldfield theme. His obvious genius shines through this track. 'Romance' is just 90's Ibiza with a classical-guitar tune running through. Not his best moment. However, 'Ringscape' is SHEER BRILLIANCE- everything i would want to hear from this exceptional musician. Wailing guitar, moody minor chords and the introduction of Organ which sounds great in the mix. INCREDIBLE STUFF!! 'Nightshade' features an unusual but interesting sound- it's percussion-driven and is very listenable. My conclusion- Mike Oldfield is often neglected in this country and this is why his music passes people by. It deserves to be given a try.
This time, before wrtiting my own thoughts, I took the time to read what others had to say. And it seemed to me that some were too much concerned about how others should feel about this geniuse's music. I wonder why?
The first two instrumental tracks grabbed my hearing from the start. Those who are worried about nuances, should pay good attention to Blackbird by listening to this song using earphones. Suddenly there's so much more, including the occasional flapping of a bird's wings. It is easy to associate the blackbird's song with the way Oldfield heard it. And there's development, too. Sometimes people think that writing pieces that play 15/30 minutes and more is a good sign that the composer worked on the track and showed the theme from various angles, then taking it into a new dimension. How about Bach's Well Tempered Clavier then? Why mix different moods and meanings, by comparing totally different albums? Comparing is one of man's vices, I am sure.
As to the rest of the tracks, espeecially the Shade album, then it's obvious that the composer simply tried his hand at the very popular new music technology - VST instruments and had good results there. He showed that he could put to good use things that most of us cannot take beoynd purely technical level (sometimes, beyond the point of installing a VST synthesizer into a computer). I could not recognise the sound of a real synth from that used in Blackbird.
"Light + Shade" follows the chilled-out style Mike established with 2002's "Tres Lunas", combined with the dance/electronic influence of "Tubular Bells III" and the result is an interesting double album.
The first disc, "Light", is made up of melodic and floaty guitar/piano-led tracks. Whilst it's a pleasant and uplifting listen, I personally found it became boring, and lacked the adventure I was hoping to find. However. "Angelique", "First Steps" and "Our Father" really stand out as the best tracks on this disc..
However, the second disc, "Shade", is much more interesting. Since "Tubular Bells III", there has been a darker, heavier, more electronic side to Mike's music trying to get out, and he has finally unleashed it here. "Quicksilver", "Resolution" and "Slipstream" are all fantastic, driving tracks. Towards the end of the disc there's the beautiful hammond organ-led "Ringscape", a truly epic track, and the haunting closing number "Nightshade", which for me is the album's best song.
"Light + Shade" was made almost entirely with music software, most significantly vocal software packages, Cantor and Vocaloid. "Surfing" and "Tears of An Angel" are two of the tracks which use the synthesised vocals, which is effective in places, and irritating in others.
Overall "Light + Shade" is an uplifting and atmospheric album, and I would recommend buying it for the "Shade" disc alone.
I thought Tres Lunas was good but I think this is even better. The style of music is a little odd at first; it would be at home on a dance floor & just as easily through your headphones chilling on a beach somewhere. For me it works at both levels & I find both CD hugely enjoyable. I probably favour the 'Shade' CD however. The album challenges you to listen to it with a new perspective. At first listening it's just house music to dance to but if you can stick with it you will be rewarded with a some great musical themes. Yes, it is very 'computer generated' in places but pretty much every band is guilty of that these days; I feel Mike exploits this wonderfully creating a contrast between the dance & chill extremes. It's another triumph for Mike as again musically he takes me to new places.
Some reviewers have had a hard time with this album. My advice to anyone hearing it for the first time is if you do not experience the joy of this album at first, put it down & come back to it later, preferably somewhere quiet & listen to it with an open mind & I'm sure you will be rewarded.
Mike Oldfield is one of the world's most diverse musicians and certainly one of the most difficult to classify. He is also the Howard Hughes of self-promotion. And yet he shares with Mozart a high productivity rate and has recorded over 20 albums. So how does anybody who wants to listen to his music find a way in when the albums are so very different? The answer, for many, will be Light and Shade. This album has so many of Oldfield's trademarks mixed in. Above all, he has an elusive individualistic signature in all of his music that is almost impossible to describe. Its like a scent. It runs through this music strongly: its pure Mike Oldfield. And yet, for many of his longer-term fans, the music is very different to much of his previous output. It mixes in dance, electronica, trance, and a range of ambient styles. Into this mesmerising core Oldfield drains his majestic guitar work. Fluid bass lines accompany expansive and relaxed passages and there is frequent application of real attitude in the guitar work that welds perfectly with the mood of each piece. The sign of a very diverse musician is that he can upset some of his fans all the time, and Oldfield certainly does that. Which ones get upset varies with each of his unpredictable works. But it is consistent with his artistic integrity that his fans, who may spend their other listening hours on anything between sugar pop to classical or hard rock to minimalism, still find that each album grows on them as their ears peel back the layers and find magic beneath the surface of whatever new clothes he has adopted with each new incarnation. On this collection, Oldfield demonstrates touches of purity and simplicity with his acoustic and piano work, such as the claming 'Blackbird' and the touching 'Rocky'. Simplicity is one of his virtues. But he turns the special powers on for the awesomely constructed "Tears of an Angel" and the lyrical "Surfing". His ability to turn a tune was once described as second only to Paul McCartney: these two tracks testify to that. Oldfield is such an uncompromising individual that he writes, plays, records, engineers and produces everything himself. There is no successor for music like this. His individualism means he may be an acquired taste, but he is very accessible on the ear, so this album is quick to make an impression. That makes it one of the better ways to sample his style and techniques. Hugely admired and respected across all of Europe, regrettably much of Oldfield's work passes without comment in the UK, his own country. One reason for his appeal across Europe may be the fact that being instrumental his music leaps over the language barrier. But curiously, over the year his singles have sold bucketloads, especially in Spain and Germany. The UK market may simply be too narrow for a man whose talents tend to confound the critics and confuse the record companies. Light and Shade has at least two obvious hits. New or returning listeners who buy it will hear Oldfield's sublime soundscapes and punchy rhythms and wonder why they have heard so little of him around. This album is an excellent front door in for those who listen to mainstream or contemporary music and who like to have something that challenges the ear with each new piece. And if you don't like it, don't worry, his next one will be completely different again!
What a pleasant suprise......Mike Oldfield has knocked out a ravishingly good album ! Not quite a five star TB or Songs from Distant Earth but a bit of a peach never the less.
The two disc album supposedly offers musical impressions of light and shade. However,each disc is of equal merit in terms of quality. For those who are into night cruising down empty roads the 'blue' disc offers a pulsating selection of tracks which will have the metal pressed to the floor before you know it ! The spacey 'orange' disc is just meltingly mellow and perfect chill out music.
Despite moving away from the cold winds which stir the black hills of the English/Welsh border country, Mike's comfortable sun kissed Spanish sojourn has at least not extinquished his creativity.
Although a Mike Oldfield fan the release of this caught me by surprise. As usual for this composer (certainly after Tubular Bells ) I bought the album unheard. Indeed this is his best since Songs of Distant Earth. I would rate this in my top five albums, its as good to listen too on MP3 whilst out walking or to try to sleep to as to hear on a full system. I found there are heavy echoes of Tr3s Lunas on a couple of tracks, and on one track on the Shade disc he sounds very much like Jean Michel Jarre. If you are an Olfield fan you will probably buy this anyway, if not I would recommend it just for something to relax to.