Reprise Records: 9-46487-2
(Style - Celtic/New Age)
First, let me preface this review by saying that I am a fan of both Celtic music and especially Mike Oldfield. Yes, he's the same guy who did Tubular Bells, or (for those less erudite) the theme from The Exorcist, about 25 years ago. He has produced far greater works since then, and this is among them. Mr. Oldfield had always had occasion to slip into musical passages that were obviously inspired by the folk music of his nation, and the Celtic nations on its periphery.
With this album, he finally dives in with both feet, and the result is as purely spiritual and cathartic as one could hope for. These aren't the silly drinking songs or jigs that have their own revered place in the Celtic catalog. These are pieces of music that live up to the album's name; pieces that carry you away to misty islands, or cold, treeless hills wrapped in clouds and history. It is a journey of introspection, and I could not help but cry tears of both sadness and joy when I listened to it for the second time. To have a combination of two things that I love come together so beautifully was an evocative and emotional experience. Half the pieces on the album are traditional songs that have been arranged by Mr. Oldfield. The other five, with one exception, are original. All these works, however, adhere to the style and spirit of the title, and there is no gap between the old and the new. His impressive list of guest musicians includes two members of the Chieftains, Sean Keane and Matt Molloy, along with The London Symphony Orchestra, Noel Eccles, Highland Pipers and numerous others. They all seem to work very well together. Whenever I hear the sound of the pipes coming to me as though from distant woods, I desperately want to follow. This music makes me want to go and never return.
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net