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also by Mike Oldfield:
Back when New Age sounded at least slightly new, Mike Oldfield released his second album for Warner. Those who like, or were turned off by, the polished and synthetic sound of Tubular Bells II will find more to love or hate on "Songs of Distant Earth". Based loosely on an Arthur C. Clarke novel, the continuous instrumental music has a TV soundtrack feel. A pleasing main tune first heard in "Let There Be Light" keeps recurring, but otherwise, unlike Tubular Bells II, this album is more about layering pretty sounds than arranging structured compositions.
Oldfield's fluid guitar gloops are at the centre of the layers of soft synths and mellow beats. There's even a brief return of that synthetic bagpipes sound from TBII. The feel-good African vocals, and religious-flavoured chanting just come across as new-age clichés. More often than not it sounds exactly like Enigma. For me, there's nothing much to love or hate here, it just floats along at an unadventurous medium pace.
August 21, 2004