Guitars Review - The Independent

June 28, 1999
Andy Gill
The Independent


I RECALL interviewing Mike Oldfield seven years ago, in a room crowded with dozens of guitars at parade rest on their stands, like Nigel Tufnell’s in Spinal Tap. I was immediately reminded of the famous Chinese terracotta army, the serried ranks of stone soldiers waiting mute and implacable for their orders. Guitars is the sound of Oldfield’s guitar army on the march: all sounds including drums, the sleevenote boasts, were derived from guitars (as if it mattered). But what’s surprising is how little contemporary musical modes have affected this recording. What’s equally puzzling is Oldfield’s need for such a plethora of guitars; he remains reliant on the few basic styles that have sustained him through that career. There’s the grippingly polite acoustic picking; the prissy, heavily-sustained electric lead tone; and the bombastic chugging of distorted electric guitar, is his approximation of "rock" guitar. When he strays outside these parameters he simply reveals his ignorance of the form in question.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield