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
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more