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Discography > Discovery

 
     


Discovery

Released: June 25, 1984

Recorded: Recorded in the Swiss Alps at 2000 metres within sight of Lake Geneva on sunny days

Discovery cover

1. To France 4:50
2. Poison Arrows 3:45
3. Crystal Gazing 3:03
4. Tricks Of The Light 3:52
5. Discovery 4:32
6. Talk About Your Life 4:24
7. Saved By A Bell 4:36
8. The Lake (instrumental) 12:08

Vocals: Maggie Reilly and Barry Palmer
Tama Drums: Simon Phillips
All other instruments: Mike Oldfield


Produced and Engineered by Mike Oldfield and Simon Phillips

Recorded in the Swiss Alps at 2000 metres within sight of Lake Geneva on sunny days

Cover photography by Dan Kramer


Notes

During the time this album was made, Mike was living in Switzerland in order to avoid the taxes of the UK, which Mike felt were unfairly high. Mike set up a studio in a house on a mountainside above Lake Geneva, in the Swiss Alps, in which he wrote and recorded Discovery.

Although Barry Palmer and Maggie Reilly share vocal duties on 'Tricks of the Light', the pair never actually met until after the album was finished - they visited the studio on separate weeks. During his time in Switzerland, Barry Palmer lost his voice, which of course meant he had trouble singing. Though he wanted to come back a little later, after regaining his voice, Mike felt this would cause problems, so Barry recorded his parts as best as he could. Though he gave a good performance, the signs of his voice being in less than perfect shape can be heard if you listen really closely to the song 'Discovery' which was recorded when Barry's voice was at its worst.

Simon Phillips co-engineered the album with Mike. This was his first time at doing this, and he later credited Mike as being the one who had taught him how to engineer. Simon was inspired, from working with Mike, to start a solo career of his own, writing and recording his own music.

The opening theme from 'To France' returns in 'Talk about your Life', while a small part of the melody of 'Tricks of the Light' continues into 'Discovery'. These help to give a feel of connectedness to the album, which is helped along by the way 'To France' blends in to 'Poison Arrows' and the general way that the album is compiled.


Personnel

Barry Palmer (musician)

An Englishman, who was singer in the German group Triumvirat during the late 1970s and early 80s. Mike came across Barry via his manager Dirk Hohmeyer, who was also manager for Triumvirat. Dirk played Mike one of Triumvirat's albums, who was so impressed with Barry's singing that he decided to get in touch. Mike initially wanted Barry to sing on the Crises tour, but he was recording a solo album at the time and didn't want to join the tour. Mike tried again after the tour had finished, at which point Barry agreed to come and sing for Mike on the single 'Crime of Passion'. Mike was sufficiently pleased with the performance that he called Barry back to sing on Discovery.


Simon Phillips (producer, musician)

A drummer who started off playing in his father's dixieland band at the age of 12, before going on to work with rock legends like Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Gary Moore, as well as being the current drummer for Toto. He met Mike in New York at Tony Roma's Ribs, while on tour with Al DiMeola.

Also appears in: Crises, Islands, Heaven's Open


Maggie Reilly (musician)

Scottish singer, who rose to fame with Glasgow pop group "Joe Cool" in the early 1970s. The band then merged with another, "Up" and became funk-rock band "Cado Belle". She met Mike in 1980 via Cado Belle keyboard player Stuart MacKillop, who had been working for Abba after leaving Cado Belle. She joined Mike on his 1980 tour, then went on to record songs with him on five albums (including Crises). In the years afterwards, Maggie went on to record with rock musicians such as Jack Bruce, George Harrison, Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason.

Also appears in: QE2, Five Miles Out, Crises, Earth Moving


Dan Kramer (cover artwork)



Instruments

Drum machines and electronic percussion
Oberheim DMX Digital drum machine.
Photo
Can be seen on top of the OBXa in Mike's 'synth corner' shown on the sleeve of some LPs of the album.
Electric guitars
1961 Fender Stratocaster, fiesta red Mike once said in an interview (The Raft) that this was his favourite guitar and that he'd never sell it. However, he finally decided to part company with it in December 2007 and sold it through Chandler guitars, fetching £30,000.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
1959 Fender Stratocaster, sunburst This was the first of the Strats that Mike bought. The scratchplate of this guitar was modified, probably in the 1990s, to make space for a Roland GK-2 synth pickup.
Photo
1963 Gibson Les Paul/SG Junior This Les Paul/SG was heavily modified by Richard Barrie and Chandler Guitars to include a pickup and circuitry for a Roland guitar synthesiser system. This was used to create some of the unique distorted guitar/synth blend sounds which featured on his 80s recordings - among them Tricks of the Light and Shine, the video for which features this guitar.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
According to the 1984 Guitarist magazine interview, this was used for "quite a lot of the lead breaks". Mike had fitted the synth pickup to it by this stage, and he used it to bring a layered synth and distorted guitar sound to his solos.
1957 Gibson Les Paul Junior This guitar was modified with a 2 octave fretboard. It was bought by a Scottish fan.
Photo Photo Photo Photo
Strung up with 8 gauge strings, so Mike could reach a high G if necessary.
Roland G-808 Guitar controller for Roland guitar synthesis system.
Photo
Steel-string acoustic guitars
Martin D-28-12 Serial number 335787. Sold to a German fan through Chandler Guitars in December 2007.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
Ovation Adamas Electroacoustic guitar with carbon fibre top.
Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo Photo
Used for many of the acoustic rhythm parts, often recorded in a small room or corridor. Also used for the solo on To France.
Bass guitars
Roland G-88 Bass guitar designed for controlling the GR-33B bass synthesiser. It can also be used as a conventional bass, which Mike seems to have done.
Photo
Amps
Fender Twin Reverb
Mesa/Boogie To get his distorted guitar sound from this amp, Mike overloaded the input by running the guitar through a preamp first. The sound then went into the mixer, where the input was overloaded, then through the Vocal Stresser and a parametric EQ, then a gate and a limiter. (Guitarist, 1984) Used for distorted guitars.
Pianos
Fender Rhodes electric piano
Synthesisers
Fairlight CMI Series II Mike had two of these - the second was for live work.
Oberheim OB-Xa Sold together with DSX sequencer and 'Tubular Bells' flightcase to "Malcolm" for £540 in Spring 2000 at vemia.co.uk. OB-Xa later resold on ebay, March 2007. Can be seen perched on top of the Fairlight keyboard in Mike's 'synth corner' shown on the sleeve of some LPs of the album.
Roland G-808 Guitar controller for Roland guitar synthesis system.
Photo
Roland G-88 Bass guitar designed for controlling the GR-33B bass synthesiser. It can also be used as a conventional bass, which Mike seems to have done.
Photo
Roland GR-300 Guitar synthesis module controlled by Roland G-808 guitar
Roland GR-33B Bass guitar synthesizer module controlled by a Roland G 88 bass guitar fitted with a synth pickup.
Roland VP-330 Analogue vocoder keyboard, often also used for its string sound. Can clearly be seen in Mike's 'synth corner' shown on the sleeve of some LPs of the album.
Sequential Circuits Prophet V Photo
Samplers
Fairlight CMI Series II Mike had two of these - the second was for live work.
Loudspeakers
Eastlake studio monitors After the problems with the Quad electrostatic speakers on the Exposed tour, Mike had a PA system built from Eastlake studio monitors. He would then use a pair, driven by one of the touring amp racks, in his temporary studios, as they were very similar to the Westlake monitors he was used to.
Studio effects and outboard
ADR Vocal Stresser F769X-R Used on Mike's distorted lead guitar parts.
Tape recorders
Studer A-800 2" 24 track multitrack tape recorder.
Photo Photo
The remote unit for this machine can be seen in the 'Studio Switzerland' picture on the sleeve of some LP editions of the album.
Mixing desks
Midas live sound desk 32 channel desk, probably a Pro5 (according to Richard Barrie). It was used as the front of house desk for Mike's live shows, but was also pressed into service for creating monitor mixes in some of Mike's temporary studio setups. This was, according to Richard Barrie, used for providing a monitor mix.
Rebis Mixer According to Mike in Changeling, this was the first mixer built by Rebis, custom ordered by him for his Througham studio. It was designed as a quadraphonic desk, with quad panpots. After Mike had stopped using it in the studio, he had it put into flight cases and used it on his tours, as well as in many of his temporary studios. According to Richard Barrie, this was used as the front end for tracking.
Sequencers
Oberheim DSX Sequencer. Used as an interface between Mike's analogue synths and the Fairlight CMI. Can just be made out next to the DMX in Mike's 'synth corner' shown on the sleeve of some LPs of the album.


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Articles

Mike Oldfield (1984)

Barry Palmer Interview (1997)

Two Sides Sleeve Notes (2012)




Lyrics

  • To France
  • Poison Arrows
  • Crystal Gazing
  • Tricks Of The Light
  • Discovery
  • Talk About Your Life
  • Saved By A Bell

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