He invented ambient house, you know.
A boy-genius guitarist and bassist with Kevin Ayers in the late 60's*, Mike Oldfield was 19 when, in 1972, he began assembling the instrumental tour de force that would join the dots of prog-rock, folk and classical. Tubular Bells (one of eight remastered Oldfield works now available, with 10 more to follow) is the most incident-packed of his 70's releases - you're never more than two minutes away from a crescendo or a beautiful interlude. Hergest Ridge (1974) is an unhurried journey over hills and along country lanes, amazingly it was TV advertised at the time. The Orchestral Tubular Bells (1975) is note-perfect but lacks personality - there was more fun in Tubular Bells than the Royal Philharmonic ralised. Ommadawn (1975) has the golden, shimmering quality of Popol Vuh and Cocteau Twins' Victorialand and is probably Oldfield's second best. A respectable third, Incantations (1978) is 72 minutes of modern campfire music, with synthesizer sounds The Human League would make fashionable three years later. Then came the slide. Exposed (1979) is a clodhopping live album. Platinum from the same year is full of misguided genre pastiches. QE2 (1980) anticipated Enya with it's ambient Gaelic syrup. The wunderkind was showing his age.
Tubular Bells 5/5
Hergest Ridge 4/5
The Orchestral Tubular Bells 2/5
Incantations 4/5 Exposed 2/5
Influenced by: Vaughan Williams/Symphony No. 3
Influence on: Orbital/In Sides
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net