Light & Shade Review - The Australian

November 5, 2006
Ian Cuthbertson
The Australian: Weekend Australian

Light & Shade
Mike Oldfield
* * * *

Mike Oldfield, who turned the popular music world upside down with Tubular Bells in 1973, has continued quietly across the intervening 32 years with 22 mostly instrumental CDs. Yes, four of his 22 albums have been developments of the Tubular Bells franchise, but the true highlights, such as Ommadawn (1975), Incantations (1978), Five Miles Out (1980) and Amarok (1990) stand proudly alone. Light & Shade consists of separate but related discs. Light recalls the best bits of 1994's Songs of Distant Earth and the more optimistic and uplifting side of the Oldfield canon, while Shade gets into serious dance grooves. Oldfield's lifelong fascination with technology focuses here on software music composition packages such as FruityLoops and Steinberg Groove Agent. What distinguishes him from thousands of loop purveyors, though, is his broad compositional skills and the ability to weigh in authoritatively on his beloved red Fender, or with the harnessed soprano scream of his dove-fretted Paul Reed Smith custom. Light & Shade is Oldfield's best work in decades.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield