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The Songs of Distant Earth

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Album Review

Mike Oldfield's The Songs of Distant Earth was inspired by a book by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who gave the album a ringing endorsement in the liner notes. Of course, the association between literature and music is something more felt than generally understood, and while Oldfield's recording was shot through with sound effects that seemed to relate to space travel (countdowns, etc.), it was less reminiscent of any writing than it was of earlier works by Oldfield. And though by 1996 Oldfield could make some claim to being the godfather not only of new age but of the recently popular version of it steeped in Celtic music (i.e., Enya), he remained grounded in progressive rock so that, with its recurrent backbeat and stately, but penetrating guitar solos, his music continued to seem closer to Pink Floyd than to Windham Hill.

Customer Reviews

The last good MO album to date

Probably the last really listenable album Mike Oldfield produced, with his trademark interweaving melodies and a nice mix of synth and crunchy guitar making up a single, album-long instrumental piece. Even here, though, one can hear the beginnings of the snubbing of real instruments in favour of over-used sampling that mars all his releases since. (Music of the Spheres, his forthcoming album, thankfully reverses that trend by being entirely orchestral.) Definitely one to add to your collection, but it's not the same without the innovative (for the early 90's) multimedia bits that were on the original CD release :)


Definitelly the best new age album of them all, from beginning to end...


Born: 15 May 1953 in Reading, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Composer Mike Oldfield rose to fame on the success of Tubular Bells, an eerie, album-length conceptual piece employed to stunning effect in the film The Exorcist. Born May 15, 1953, in Reading, England, Oldfield began his professional career at the age of 14, forming the Sallyangie folk duo with his sister Sally; a year later, the siblings issued their debut LP, Children of the Sun. By the age of 16, he was playing bass with Soft Machine founder Kevin Ayers' group the Whole World alongside experimental...
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The Songs of Distant Earth, Mike Oldfield
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