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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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!
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on 16 September 2003
...and buy this.
OK, so I *am* a big Mike Oldfield fan, but having said that, of all his albums, this is probably the one most likely to appeal to non-fans. So go ahead, buy it, and have your preconceptions challenged.
It is, quite simply, superb. I saw a TV ad for this album when it came out in 1994 which showed about 20 seconds of track 2 - 'Let There Be Light' - together with the accompanying video, and I knew immediately that I would love the album - though at that time I only had one other of his albums (TB II). And I do - to this day.
It is so unlike anything he has ever done before, yet at the same time it contains his signature guitar sound (not to mention the top notch production), and I would highly recommend it to anyone genuinely interested in music - of any kind.
And the music itself? Space-oriented, yes, but organic and melodic rather than merely electronic and inhuman. Beats, samples, vocals - and of course, the trademark Oldfield guitars. Put it this way, you could listen to the whole thing and not realise it was Mike. But if you knew - you'd know. Trust me - it rocks.
"Welcome back into space, Mike: there's still lots of room out here." As they say.
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on 21 March 2001
Forget everything that you know about music. Let this be your guide. I am particualrly partial to Mike Oldfield. I have been for quite sometime. This is one of his most memorable. I am not convinced that it is his best. If you have read my review of Ommadawn then you will know that both of these albums have great personal appeal for me. This album reaches deep within my psyche and drawing out my soul as it must have done with Mike.
This may seem like pretentious babble. You have not heard this album. It is simply stunning. The majestic images evoked by the 'Let there be light' track and the splendid 'Crystal Clear' keep my eyes fixed for hours. It is the kind of music which induces visions that drugs attain to. It is difficult to put into words how much this album means to me - as my rambling has proven. Please buy this and open up your eyes to the majesty of far away planets and deep oceans populated by strange creatures.
Nuff said
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on 4 December 2001
Forget Tubular Bell's in all it's incarnations, they were very good but this is one of the best records I have ever heard, and it is Mikes absolute masterpiece. I originaly heard this 7 years ago when it was first released and I can say it moves me as much today as it did then. It is probably the most consistant record in my collection, there's not a crap track anywhere here.
Apparently it was inspired by an Arthur.C.Clarke Novel of the same name and space travel is the constant theme throughout. The album starts with 'In the begining' and includes the reading of Genesis ch1 v1 from the Apollo 8 mission in orbit around the moon in 1968. You get a real feeling about the begining of time with this track, with it's sampled whale cries and simple melody. The track that realy stands out though is 'Magellan', from it's magestic Synth and Bagpipe opening to it's simple and ethereal piano, guitar and choirs. Brilliant tune, mate. Another personal favourit is 'The Shining Ones' (title taken from the David Edding's novel?), but it's unfair to single out single tracks because every one inspires. There's choirs, lot's of interesting synthesiser passages, unusual and freaky samples and sound effects, lots of great and strong melodies and of course Mike's inimitable guitar playing styles.
This record apparently sold like hot cakes in Spain but for some perverse reason only reached the far end of the top 40 album chart here. A shame, this Album's a M.O Megaclassic.
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on 4 July 2001
I may be an avid Oldfield fan, but I tell you only have to be appreciative of music to love this album. It is, quite simply, astonishingly beautiful, the kind of music every sci-fi film wants as its soundtrack. The tracks' boundaries are blurred in typical Oldfield style and the album is sadly over before you know it, but what a time you have! I will never, ever get tired of hearing this piece. Music fans must buy it now or forever live in shame!
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on 17 November 2000
What an amazing recording this is! This is not standard Mike Oldfield fayre. Even die hard fans night have been thinking he was beginning to go through the motions, then from nowhere came this exceptional album. The inspiration is obviously the Arthur C. Clark novel of the same name - but my reaction on hearing this for the first time was "where did this come from?". True dyed in the wool Oldfield fans might find this too far removed from the likes of Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge etc., and if this is your first Oldfiled purchase, there is no guarantee you will like any of his other work. But "The Songs of Distant Earth" is a magnificent, magnificent album. Certainly an album of its day, with ambient moods and gentle melodies, but one which will surely go down as one of the great albums of the genre, and one of the best albums ever produced! I kid you not - it really is that good! Believe me, if you don't like this, then the problem is you, matey!! A BIG five stars for the Old Man of New Age (sorry Mike!!!)


I am shocked, as I write, to see it is almost 11 years since I posted this review. Where oh where does the time go?

Well, what can I say, TSODE is still one of my 5 all time favorite albums. I stand by my words above - and would add that after 11 years, to feel that way about something so subjective and ephemeral suggests that it must have something.

Open your mind, even if you are dyed in the wool... and treat yourself. I doubt you'll regret it.
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on 26 March 2006
I bought this CD the day it was released. On first listening I knew it was something special. I have listened to this album probably on average 3 times a week since then. This is, quite simply, the best album I've ever heard, and to say this after a period of almost 12 years really does mean that it passes the test of time.
I won't tell you about the music in detail because it means different things to each person, but if you are adventurous in your musical tastes, whatever you like, then give this album a listen. I really do think there's something for just about everyone here.
Go on, broaden your horizons and listen to "The Songs Of Distant Earth". It may change your musical life.

20 years on - all but 8 days. So what do I think now? This very quickly became my favourite album of all time, and all this time later all I can say it that it has shone through brightly for all those years. Mike Oldfield has made some amazing music since Tubular Bells (another of my most favourte albums), and has occasionally disappointed too. I still listen to this album regularly, probably around 4 or 5 times a week. And I still can't get enough of it. My other Oldfield recommendations? Ommadawn, Incantations, Tubular Bells III, Hergest Ridge... The list could go on.

So after 20 years it's still worth 5 stars. In my opinion 10 stars wouldn't be enough!
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on 31 January 2005
Among all my music CD, mile oldfield's are on the top of the list (together with another band Apocalyptica, they are the heaven & hell extreme to me) . and the album songs of distant earth is on the top of all his masterpieces.
I love science-fiction novels, though I never know the book <songs of the distant earth>. But through this mike oldfield's album, I think I already read it!! Just from the first chapter In the Beginning, Mike already puts you into a space suite in a shuttle and watching the blue planet from afar, and every following part paints every scenes in your brain. Just close your eyes, you can see the entire journey. The music tells you all, shows you all. NEVER an album has ever managed such amazing phenomenen, mike did. That's what I call True music. It shows you the world, and you just recognize it.
I used to hear a saying that 'if you don't hear pink floyd, you'll never understand what rock is', well, here I'd want to say:
If you don't hear Songs of distant earth, you'll never understand what (pure) music is.
Only if you could tell and appreciate.
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on 18 June 2012
Every now and then you listen to an album that is truly beautiful from end to end, more than a collection of songs or tunes, a masterpiece constructed in its entirety, one album I have in mind is Oceania by Vangelis, an album that gives you such a peaceful feeling just by its exisitence.

Songs of Distant Earth by Mike Oldfield is also such an album, it is hard to pick out individual tracks as the album must be listenned to throughout and judged on its enirety. It would be easy to dismiss parts of it as dirivetive Oldfield, but that is missing the point, yes some of it does sound a little like Voyager or Tubular Bells III but I do not see that as a bad thing, he has taken those themes and expanded on them wonderfully.

What Mr Oldfield does here is take you on a journey throughout the natural world and the world of mankind with excellent soundbites on it such as the reading of Genesis 1:1 from the Apollo capsule combined with exquisite composition. If I had to pick out any tracks as 5 star they would be "Let There Be Light" which as an opening track (well almost) is a stunner, I was hooked from this point onwards when I first listenned to it) and "Only Time Will Tell".

It is an album to just sink into, play it loud, close your eyes and just drift away, to quote the eagles, it leaves you with a peaceful easy feeling and won't let you down. Brilliant stuff
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on 11 June 2011
With so many other reviews this is probably unnecessary but being an "early works" fan; this one struck a chord for some reason - and no pun intended!
After "Incantations", Mike and I drifted apart, so to speak. but for some strange reason, this record really appealed.
It is quite gentle and very atmospheric; I found it relaxing yet uplifting. Mike guitar work is as lovely as ever, but effectively subtle with lots of various synth backfrops and soft percussive support.
Yes - TSoDE, was an oasis in a barren landscape for and my relationship with Mike's music.
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