Tubular Bells III programme

September 4, 1998


"Mike went to Ibiza for a kind of semi retirement. He built a house on the side of a cliff on the south of the island, with it's own beach and a fabulous view of the rocks, sea and sky beyond. Although the island's natural beauty was the reason Mike decided to live there, Ibiza is also the European capital of dance music. The huge clubs like Pachu, Ku and Es Paradis are as much a part of the island as the natural landscape. Mike started to go to the clubs, began listening to house music and soaking up the Ibiza scene. He became aware of the way DJs mixed different records together over the evening to raise and lower the excitement in the club. He gained a new respect for house music, becoming aware of the creativity
involved in mixing and programming a set in a club. And he listened clinically to the music itself, how it was made, what sounds it used."

"One night he was sitting on the patio of a club called El Divino in the harbour near Ibiza Town, and a huge boat pulled in, techno music booming out over the bows. The boat's passengers were mostly from Frankfurt in Germany, and many of them were involved in techno production. He became friends with some of these people in Ibiza and began his first attempts at club music production.
His first dance creation was a version of the opening part of Tubular Bells. He felt that it would be possible to put a dance beat under the tinkling piano arpeggios that signal the start of Tubular Bells and Tubular Bells II. He had bought a new keyboard - a Nord Lead, which is used in a lot of dance records which makes the squelchy filtered lead and bass noises. Adding in these characteristic sounds of techno music he felt it take shape. Tubular Bells III was born.
He would take acetates of the first few versions of Tubular Bells III to the clubs on the island, where he knew the DJs. Excitedly he would hand them over to the DJs and listen expectantly as they were mixed into the DJs set. It worked. As Mike himself said 'people didn't walk off the floor.' Having discovered the secret of club music, the opening piece was named A Source Of Secrets.
Fired up with new enthusiam, Mike began evolving the opening part of Tubular Bells III into a complete Tubular Bells album with a dance beat."

"For Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells is something that starts with that opening arpeggio and ends with the bell. It's a beautifully simple, perhaps naive, description of a musical concept which he alone has managed to master. After nearly three decades, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells describes a musical idea which has never been successfully imitated."

"After a while Mike had written and recorded a whole side with this clubby beat, an Ibizan Tubular Bells. Ands then he stopped, For him, this long 'clubby' section wasn't working.
So although one might assume an album about living in Ibiza would be 136BFM from start to finish, Tubular Bells III would not. It would be more accurate than that.
The album starts with the sound of the wind as it passes by the statue of Padre Francisco Palau, an island monk known for his healing powers who's shrine overlooks the famous Es Vedra horse island near Mike's house. This is the island depicted ont he sleeve of The Voyager. The sound of the wind makes way for the signature arpeggios that we know as the start pf Tubular Bells and return throughout the album.
The whistled melody hinted at in the opening moments returns as the basis for the second section - Watchful Eye. For him it reflects this mysterious, spiritual side of Ibiza. Down the cliff, away from the tourist paths, religious shrines like that of Padre Francisco Palau reveal the deeply religious roots of the local population, the statue keeping it's watchful eye over the island's people. The Watchful Eye theme returns later."

"Jewel In The Crown reflects another Ibizan odyssey. Mike spent many months woking on a multimedia virtual world for the CD Rom version of The Songs Of Distant Earth. The virtual world became so elaborate that the current raft of home PCs are not yet able to show the complex graphics. His frustations with the slow advance of home computers forced Mike to abandon this project for now. Somewhere in this abandoned world was an Indian Village and the tune that came to Mike, coupled with vocals from one of Britain's brightest new Asian stars Amar. evokes this lost scene."

"Outcast is a dark and moody piece, it came from Mike's reflections on the way Ibizan life forces you to experience emotional highs and lows. In Serpent Dream Mike displays his accomplished Flamenco playing. It's a style of playing he's always felt an affinity for and the sound is another surprising Ibizan hallmark. The song paints a vivid picture of a snake stalking it's prey and, eventually, striking.
Illustrating this concept, the album has a sudden change of mood (inspired in part by the way Monty Python would unexpectedly change sketch mid sentence, the original Tubular Bells had quite a few of these sudden changes but it is only used sparingly here), immediately following the dramatic death at the hands of the serpent we hear the sound of children in a playground - a rebirth - and The Inner Child begins.
The Inner Child evokes the feeling of Prague int he winter, a lonely female voice flying above the freezing snow. It's an image he's seen before in Tubular Bells. The voice in question belongs to a famous Spanish cellist, Rosa Cedron from Luar na Lubre (a famous Spanish band) who was originally invited to play cello on this piece. Instead, Mike asked her to sing the melody. The Inner Child became a beautiful vocal piece.
Following in the tradition of Portsmouth and Moonshine, Tubular Bells must have a more traditional 'song'. this time the 'song' comes at the end of part one, rather than the end of part 2 as with previous Tubular Bells. Introduced again by the sound of the wind, Man In The Rain acts like an interval in the play. Aware that Tubular Bells III was a heavier journey than previous albums, the song provides a sonic break from the intensity. Originally written a few years ago, Man In The Rain tells the story of Mike's painful split from his family. It's a song about something that you know you love, but at the time you know you have to leave. So although it sounds quite light hearted, it's very much on the darker theme of the album as a whole. Previously Mike had tried to make it work with different backing tracks, but felt it never sounded at home with any of them. With a new voice (Cara from Polar Star) the song finally found its feet."

"Side 2 starts with Top Of The Morning. this is another melody Mike has been playing with for some time. But never on piano. It's a piece of music which he had been playing on guitar. One day he tried it on piano and was delighted to find that it worked. As a piano piece it forms the perfect introduction to the second part of a Tubular Bells album.
Moonwatch starts with the sound of the waves outside the window of Mike's studio in Ibiza. not literally, but as depicted by keyboard arpeggios. As he sat at the mixing desk composing and recording, he could look out at the moon in the sky, its reflection in the sea below. This piece was written as a reminder of this beautiful view."

"As it returns to the path to the Bell, Tubular Bells III reprises the theme of the opening 'secrets;, like the opening track features the voice of Amar over the traditional piano figure augmented by the sounds of nineties techno: the filtered lead lines nd fat bass sounds, the relentless kick and building snares.
As it moves into its final movement Tubular Bells III stays in a minor key. For Mike, this was important to convey a new facet of Tubular Bells. This is the civil version of a previously up beat piece of music. using a snippet of vocals, sampled and repeated in the house style, it unravels into a heartbeat. We hear the child's voice summarising the history of the central character, the main in the rain - elements of Mike's past - and announces the arrival of.... The Bell.
Far Above The Clouds is an emotionally charged finale. Designed to conjure up the end of a bad phase, the casting off of demons, it is truly the DARK side of the Bell. Riding the incessant rhythm of African drums once used in Ommadawn, the tubular bells and electric guitar are joined by a familiar refrain - a signature Mike Oldfield guitar figure from the very first Tubular Bells. Irish singer Clodagh Simmons (another Oldfield veteran) adds an atmospheric female voice. the piece maintains a distinctly evil feel, before building to a huge crescendo and dying away. In this final movement he conjures up all the demons of his life for one last exorcism. The Ibiza experience draws to an end, with sounds of birds signalling a new dawn."

Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net