Mike Oldfield - Discovery

Album cover

  1. To France (6:15)
  2. Poison Arrows (5:11)
  3. Crystal Gazing (4:01)
  4. Tricks of the Light (5:30)
  5. Discovery (6:13)
  6. Talk About Your Life (5:51)
  7. Saved by a Bell (5:58)
  8. The Lake (13:37)

Virgin, 1984

also by Mike Oldfield:

"Discovery" has the most straightforward pop songs to date on an Oldfield album, tastefully polished, folky and not too 80s-sounding. They're half sung by the liquid-clear tones of Maggie Reilly, including the most attractive number "To France". Its lilting tune places it still in "Moonlight Shadow" territory, but it holds up well in comparison to that more well-known hit. The other singer is Barry Palmer, the weaker of the pair. His attempts to rock out, such as the title track, end up with the campness of Cliff Richard.

The album is also a showcase for Oldfield's current favourite studio toy. Like many musos in the early 80s he was into the Fairlight synth and sampler. It's used distinctively here for lots of soft synth noises, like the cheesy star-gazing voice sounds behind "Saved by a Bell". This song eventually explodes in a puffed-up chorus with some more hammy singing from Palmer. Following the pattern of Oldfield's last two albums, here a longer instrumental piece sits alongside the songs. "The Lake" is unashamedly pretty but strong stuff, featuring more Fairlight twinkles, fluent guitar soloing from Oldfield, and a lovely sweeping theme to finish the piece off.

July 26, 2004

6 out of 10

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