Mike Oldfield — The Songs of Distant Earth
(Warner Bros 4509 98542 2, 1994/2001, CD)
Mike Oldfield — Hibernaculum
(Warner Bros WEA 4509 98767 2, 1995, 2CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 1995-11-01
Here is the latest release from Mike Oldfield and what an innovation it is! The Songs of Distant Earth is the first CD I've encountered that marries CD-ROM with audio CD. In addition Mike Oldfield went against current trends and issued this as a Mac-only CD-ROM whereas the other new CDs coming on the market are for the PC. The CD-ROM takes you on a journey through Oldfield's universe imagineered by Mike to accompany the music on the disk. Inspired by Arthur C. Clarke, you fly through space and then enter the ship. Now it is a puzzle for you to solve based on the "Tubular Bells" riff. Quite impressive but Buyer Beware! Though the booklet states you need 8 MB of RAM, the developers didn't account for large systems, so if you only have 8 MB on your Mac you will have trouble viewing and executing the CD-ROM. The developer, Balanda, tells me that they are optimizing the code for the US release and that it should require much less RAM. Now to the music. Mike Oldfield is an expert in taking simple themes and orchestrating them such that you find yourself uplifted and humming along. The Songs of Distant Earth is no exception. His themes run throughout the CD, metamorphosing before your ears. Oldfield's skill as both a composer and musician keeps you interested from the opening ("In the Beginning" an especially powerful song including the NASA recording of Bill Anders/Apollo 8 reading from the book of Genesis 27 years ago) to the end "A New Beginning" that mixes his themes with African tribal singing. This is a release not to be missed, if only for the CD-ROM!
Hibernaculum is Mike Oldfield's double CD single from The Songs of Distant Earth. Here we have another innovative marketing ploy. Each CD was released separately with CD1 in a double CD case containing a cardboard place holder for CD2. In addition CD1 comes with a hologram of Mike in concert. CD2 comes in a slim line CD single jewel case. CD1 contains "Hibernaculum" from Songs and three versions of "Moonshine," Mike's nod to C&W music from Tubular Bells II. CD2 contains "Hibernaculum" again, "The Spectral Army," and "The Song of the Boat Men." "Moonshine" is bad enough once, but three times is ridiculous! Far better is CD2 with the bagpipes on "The Spectral Army" and the New Agey "The Song of the Boat Men." If you have a choice buy CD2 and leave CD1 on the racks. And what Mike should have done here to make these singles worth purchasing was to put other versions of "Hibernaculum" on them instead of "Moonshine." Buy Songs instead, you won't be disappointed.
Related artist(s): Mike Oldfield
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more