Mike Oldfield’s new album, Light And Shade

I’ve submitted the following review of Mike Oldfield’s new album, Light And Shade, to Amazon.

It’s rather depressing for me as a fan of most of Mike’s work to hear his output in recent times. As a musician myself, I can appreciate the effort that goes into producing an album of real music, and the little effort that goes into producing the likes of this album, composed on and performed for the main part by computer. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with computer-generated music per se, but I don’t get where Mike is coming from any more. We are talking about a guy who camped out in protest at the state of modern, computer-generated music (search the WWW to read the contemporary interviews), only to move Ibiza himself and absorb himself in the dance/trance fraternity a few years ago.

Maybe he wants to shun his old image and embrace a more youthful market, or maybe it’s just too damn easy for him to rely so heavily on computers now, sell an album which most of his existing fanbase (including me) will buy (and give a five-star rating, just because it is Mike), take the cash and go ride his Hayabusa; or maybe he’s become such a control-freak that he just can’t work with other musicians any more.

Whatever the reason for his forays into trance-type music, I think this’ll be the last album of his that I buy (he said, in the full and certain knowledge that it won’t be).

Where’s the Mike we heard on Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, 5 Miles Out, Amarok, to name but a few? Many of his fans admired his music for its interest and refusal to conform to what Virgin wanted from him, and frankly, even his 1980s ‘pop’ albums under Virgin (which many fans didn’t like, but I did) were great in comparison to his recent stuff. I am only 34 and have no problems with computer-generated music, but quite frankly, anyone with a copy of Cubase, some VST plugins and a small amount of musical talent can approximate Mike’s recent output. Simply put, I mourn the artistic death of a once great (and principled) talent, and releasing an album with a track whose title contains the words ‘fruity loops’ does what it says on the tin. We won’t mention the version of ‘Romance’ on the second disk.

One redeeming feature is the Umyx multimedia stuff on the first disk, which is quite a nice novelty for people who think that muting track sections and changing volume levels, sorry, ‘mixing’, approaches some kind of musical talent. It’s cute, though, so I’m not going to knock it.

Still, he’s rich and I’m not, so what do I know? Please though, Mike: pick up a mandolin, Solina string machine, timpani and an acoustic guitar and write some organic, breathing music again. What a pity.

Sums it up really. A poor effort from a bloke who used to do some great albums.