His last album, The Millennium Bell, reflects eleven periods of human history

December 13, 1999
Carmen Torrente

Dalinian. This is the adjective that better defines Mike, the sound sculptor. Not only by the surrealist laughs like peals which starts his answers with, but also by the clocks that form the cover of his last album, The Millennium Bell (Warner '99). The interview could not be done in another place: the Dalí living room at a luxurious hotel of Madrid.

Three albums in one year only. Aren't you being too prolific?

(Laughs). Yes, I've been very busy. I finished Tubular Bells III, then I made Guitars, but I always wanted to do something for the new millennium. And now we are arriving to this crucial point, with the Berlin concert. I didn't have a special energy, I only needed to work on my career.


The idea of this album arosed in the concert at Houseguards Parade, when you synchronized your music with the Big Ben peals. Why then?

(Laughs). Hum... I was doing music from 10 to 12, and this suggests the idea of Christmas Eve, with the bells.

Your work reflects 2000 years of history. Has been very difficult for you to choose these eleven moments?

No, it was very easy. I learned all I know about history at the school. But I have been travelling and investigating a lot.

There is only the bell symbol on the cover, not your name. Do you promote this image?

There are things hard to explain. The symbol of the bells is one of them. There were bells on the first album, but they could have been eggs. Originally, the first album name's was going to be "Breakfast in bed". The designer wanted to put a blooding egg on the cover. I said "don't put that, but bells".

In every theme, one instrument is more important than another. For example, in "Pacha Mama", the drums; in "The Doge's Palace" the violins. So the bells aren't too important after all.

There is only one bell. That's why the album is called "The Millennium Bell". Every theme has its own personality.

In addition to pass from a century to another, is there something special for you in this new millennium?

Yes, when I was a child I thought how far year 2000 was, and every time it gets nearer and loses interest. I feel privileged.


You reflect negative aspects, like the missing Inca culture, the Second World War... Why?

Although history has a negative side, there are positive aspects. "Peace on Earth" is Jesus' birth. Even Second World War themes reflect the will to live.

The tour starts on 31 December in Berlin, and it will be magic. Will be there something particular on it?

I never know what is happening around me because I play with the eyes closed. I'll take someone to told me: Mike, take a look. Every concert is connected to the reaction of the audience. Someone told me that it will be the millennium event.

Why did you choose Brandenburg Door for the event?

Actually the concert will be in a big place, 700 meters far from it. I didn't choose this place, I was invited.

Do you feel like a compositor or like a musician?

I prefer being guitarist. Although that includes: engineer, producer... It's like being a sound sculptor.

Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net