If someone can claim the title "predecessor of the new floating age", then it must be the man who in 1973, when he was nineteen, chimed the 'Tubular Bells'. Since then Mike Oldfield sold more than forty million albums filled with electronic ingenuity. At a certain moment he went nuts from it himself.
In the meantime he switched from psychotherapy to tai-chi and from England to Ibiza. And for his new album 'Voyager' he put away the electronics and got his acoustic instruments out of the dust. The girls from the room service who are cleaning the debris in my room in Hotel Pikes speak excited when they hear the Celtic mystique that inspired Oldfield. I was fallen asleep with it, and it has to be said: the sleep-enhancement factor of this music is maximal.
The curiosity of the roomgirls can not only be explained by the fact that Oldfield resided here for two months while his house on this ultimate party-island got finished. Oldfield sells in Spain more albums than Michael Jackson and 'Voyager' reached the top of the charts already in its first week.
A few hours later we are looking out across the rock where on Oldfield built his house, "designed myself on the computer". Behind us the swimming pool, the studio, the meditation room, and "look, there are my jetski's, and on that rock there I prefer to meditate" Oldfield tells us with a mysterious look in his eyes.
Luc Beernaert: Why exactly did you choose Ibiza?
Mike Oldfield: The mystic history of this island fascinates me. Most tourists don't have attention for that. The rock you see over there, Vedra, is such a sacred place that points us to the Celtic history of Spain. I'm already learning Spanish, that's good for me. When I had finished 'The Songs of Distant Earth' I could only ramble on in computer language.
Do you hear in the disco's around here echoes of your earlier work?
Often in fact; I admire a lot of this trancemusic, and I like to dance to it. On soundtracks as well I hear sounds which seem inspired by me. It does little to my ego, because I try nowadays to make it as unimportant as possible. Meditation helps me doing that. It's amazing how much more powerful you get without an ego. You become completely untouchable.
You're avoiding your midlife crisis with a search for new spiritual values?
Exactly, since I started working on this album, I discovered tai-chi. I'm no longer so obsessed with my work, succes or prestations. I learned it's quite an achievement to be alive. Life is more important than what you do with it. Thus I learned to do nothing: not thinking does help. Strange enough you can't help but notice that you achieve more by doing less. In the past I was constantly planning everything. Now I let the things just flow. After this album I have no contractual obligations more whatsoever. No expectations, no declarations, nothing but total freedom.
What is tai-chi doing for you actually?
That can, just like my music, not be captured in words. You feel the unity and the equilibrium of your body. You feel peaceful, it helps you not going down.
(Just at that moment a rowing paddle that was standing against the terrace wall falls down, as if Oldfield also is capable of telekinetics. We both start laughing)
Now you've convinced me.
There is a spiritual consciousness in this world, that can explain phenomenons like telekinese. Past, present and future don't exist. There only is a huge energy that makes it possible that for instance this moment that thing falls. Language isn't sufficient for that. Mankind develops new ways of communicating in art, music. Within 500 years we'll be able, also thanks to practics like tai-chi, to do things we even can't explain now.
It's easy to speak for you, spiritual equilibrium is easy to achieve when your bank account is stable as well.
That's a thing where I have been lucky. I don't have to work anymore, people keep on buying those seventeen albums. But as a child I always was the black sheep, I got me some trauma's that I only got rid of later in psychotherapy. That has cost me money as well, and that's why I've created TONIC in London, an organisation that gives psychotherapeutic aid to poor people.
Mike Oldfield, "Voyager", three stars.
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net