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Question: Favourite track :: Total Votes:41
Poll choices Votes Statistics
Peace on Earth 1  [2.44%]
Pacha Mama 10  [24.39%]
Santa Maria 0  [0.00%]
Sunlight Shining Through Cloud 3  [7.32%]
The Doge's Palace 5  [12.20%]
Lake Constance 8  [19.51%]
Mastermind 3  [7.32%]
Broad Sunlit Uplands 6  [14.63%]
Liberation 2  [4.88%]
Amber Light 3  [7.32%]
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Topic: Favourite track, I mean - no polls on this forum?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 16 2008, 11:34

Quote (nightspore @ May 16 2008, 15:11)
Alan, in case you didn't get my email reply, thanks for your suggestions with regard to finding the studio verson of "The Art in Heaven". I've now listened to the piece. I can imagine parts of it forming the background music to an effective suspense thriller; but - purely from my own point of view (I abhor the attitude of some posters who say "X IS so-and-so") - I think TMB relies too much on melody for a mood piece like this to fit in.

Your nudge reminded me that I hadn't replied, but I have now.

I've been thinking a bit more about it myself, and I think I'm possibly confusing two distinct concepts:
1 What would make a good coherent album?
2 What would make a good Millenium show?

You may be right that to stick Berlin 2000 on the end of an edited Millenium Bell album wouldn't work - because there is, in such an album, no division between pre-2000 and post-2000. In the show the transition from one to the other was the centrepiece of the whole concept, and what came after needed to be distinct from what went before.

Now, I think Berlin 2000 was simply perfect as a conclusion to the show because it fitted the concept so well. But you may be right that it wouldn't work on a studio album.

I haven't tried my experiment of fiddling with it (trouble is, I'm not over-fond of the album so my enthusiasm for the project isn't high) but I'll report back if I do.
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Tayniee Offline




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Posted: May 16 2008, 14:56

Quote (Alan D @ May 12 2008, 14:01)
I think I'm persuading myself that (when I get the time), I'm going to try doing some editing of Millennium Bell - adding Berlin 2000 at the end, cutting out a couple of tracks - and see how much changes of that kind really do modify my perception of the individual tracks.

I don't have a problem with the  flow and sequence of tracks on TMB, it's all fine to me, but I would be interested to know why and how you would remix it Alan.

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Sweetpea Offline




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Posted: May 16 2008, 15:18

Thanks for the link, Alan. It looked as if it were freezing that night, but what a performance! So much of my recent listening has been focused on the softer, more relaxing pieces, that I sometimes forget Mike can get a little scary on guitar.

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Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 16 2008, 16:06

Quote (Tayniee @ May 16 2008, 19:56)
I don't have a problem with the  flow and sequence of tracks on TMB, it's all fine to me, but I would be interested to know why and how you would remix it Alan.

I think it's one of those situations where trial and error would be the order of the day. I have no clear picture of what might work better, apart from generally finding the experience of the whole album, as it stands, rather lacklustre and disappointing - and that vaguely disappointing response to the album makes a startling contrast to my very positive response to the Millennium show. Now, there's such a big overlap of material there, that it leads me to believe it might be possible to fiddle with the album to some advantage.

There are certain sections that trouble me quite a bit - the opening track is too sentimental, too Disneyland, for me; so I invariably start off squirming a bit and the whole album gets off to a bad start. I think I'd start, instead, with the hint of Tubular that leads into Pacha Mama, use that as the beginning, and work from there.
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nightspore Online




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Posted: May 16 2008, 20:52

Quote (Alan D @ May 16 2008, 16:06)
There are certain sections that trouble me quite a bit - the opening track is too sentimental, too Disneyland, for me; so I invariably start off squirming a bit and the whole album gets off to a bad start. I think I'd start, instead, with the hint of Tubular that leads into Pacha Mama, use that as the beginning, and work from there.

Interestingly, Pacha Mama is the one piece I can't listen to. I keep thinking it's saying "What a sexy woman" and I'm about to be subjected to some raunchy striptease act.

As for "Peace on Earth", I'm not sure what "sentimental" means here. Without wishing to enter the thorny thickets of cultural theory (but doing so nonetheless), the only mob I know of who give a precise definition of "sentimental" are the Russian Formalists, who say that it's anything in an artwork that is "unmotivated" or doesn't form, roughly speaking, a leitmotif. The trouble is, if you apply that definition virtually everything in pop music is sentimental. Maybe you simply mean "overly emotional"... But that would invite the question of how much emotion is too much. Whatever, I like "Peace on Earth", its rhythm, the way it's sung, and it's instrumentation. Does anyone know of any cheap flights to Disneyland?
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Tayniee Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 00:18

I hear the words.....you aren't a patch on my mum, you aren't a patch on my mum, you are a sexy woman, you are a sexy woman.......... :cool:

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Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 04:12

Quote (nightspore @ May 17 2008, 01:52)
[/quote]
[quote=Alan D,May 16 2008, 16:06]As for "Peace on Earth", I'm not sure what "sentimental" means here. ... Maybe you simply mean "overly emotional"...

Oh no, not that at all. I listen to Elgar's 'For the Fallen' wracked with feeling and weeping all over the place, but I wouldn't dream of describing it as 'sentimental' in the way I used the word here.

I wasn't attempting serious critical comment (or I'd have tried to choose my words more carefully) but merely responding to Tainee's question about what I'd edit out, and why. To elucidate - maybe 'mawkish' would be a clearer choice. We compared notes on this particular boundary while discussing 'On My Heart', which has a similar effect on me, and to which I'd attach the same label. Disney's 'Snow White', 'When You Wish Upon A Star', the choir of heavenly angels providing fake reassurance - these are the kinds of things I mean. That's the discomforting effect 'Peace on Earth' has on me. I feel I'm being invited to be complicit in a fake emotion. (I'm not insisting that Mike's original emotive impulse that inspired the piece actually is fake; just that the result feels fake to me.)

On the other hand, I'm very aware that this particular line is drawn in different places by each of us (and for some, hardly at all). Pre-Raphaelite paintings often hover close to this boundary, where poignancy is close to tipping into banality. For every person who talks about the delicate poignancy of a painting by Millais, there'll be another who shudders at the sentimental drippiness. So I'm not talking in absolutes, here (how could I, where art is concerned?). It's just a personal response, where my particular buttons are being unpleasantly pushed, and which I'd prefer to avoid.
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Sweetpea Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 04:45

This idea of restructuring MB appeals to me. While I think "Peace on Earth" is a nice tune, as an opener it leaves something to be desired. I do like quite a lot of the album's musical content, but I think I would have preferred it without all the words. So, I'd remove a lot of the vocals - or else replace them with non-word specific vocalese.

Having recently heard the stunning studio version of "Art in Heaven", I'd love to include that at the end. There are a handful of MO's works that I find truly passionate, and this is one of them. I can understand the argument of it being too intense to fit the overall tone of MB, but that can be remedied by opening the album with a short variation, I think, achieving a bookend effect. If "Mastermind" had been the really rockin' piece it could have been, that would have helped, too.

To quote familyjules, "Or would that just be too Frankenstein's monster-ish?"


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"I'm no physicist, but technically couldn't Mike both be with the horse and be flying through space at the same time? (On account of the earth's orbit around the Sun and all that). So it seems he never had to make the choice after all. I bet he's kicking himself now." - clotty
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nightspore Online




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Posted: May 17 2008, 05:32

Alan, I think I see where you're coming from, here. I think you're implying that the whole idea of such a complex issue as "peace on earth" is at odds with the very simple melodic treatment that Mike gives it. Yes, I can understand why someone might respond that way. (Blake's "Songs of Innocence" poems always strike me that way, incidentally.) I personally don't, possibly because I find the sound of the piece so pleasing.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 06:15

Quote (nightspore @ May 17 2008, 10:32)
Alan, I think I see where you're coming from, here. I think you're implying that the whole idea of such a complex issue as "peace on earth" is at odds with the very simple melodic treatment that Mike gives it.

That doesn't feel quite right, Daniel. I don't think it's the simplicity as such - some folksongs are starkly simple, yet express very profound and complex concepts. The simplicity of Blake's Songs of Innocence - which you mention - has a profound backbone, with all kinds of resonances and ironies that may not be apparent at first.

So it's not simplicity that's at issue for me here - it's the feeling that what's being offered is only skin deep - a veneer: the painted cherub with the sickly smile; the attempt to make the viewer/reader/listener sigh, 'Aaaaaahhhh....'; a smothering with too much treacle and syrup.
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Tayniee Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 08:09

Quote (Alan D @ May 17 2008, 06:15)
- it's the feeling that what's being offered is only skin deep - a veneer:

That is a good definition of sentimental feeling and there are many varieties of sentimental feeling that music can persuade us to feel. Some of which I don't mind too much and some that makes me feel uncomforable, ie. 'On my Heart', being one of them, because to me it's of the self pitying variety, and apart from the fact it doesn't feel 'true,' I don't like to be persuaded to pity someone, but that is my subjective aspect to that.  

When musiic expresses it'self with true deep feeling, that's when I believe we are moved to tears in the purest sense and Mike Oldfield is the 'mastermind' at this.

Peace on Earth is a complex piece to me with many messages running through it so I cannot simplify it with the 'sentimenal' tag. I like it's minor key, the theme of  Child, Hymn, Faith   Innocence but with a darker edge in it's tone... a lot going on.... it never bores me.


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nightspore Online




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Posted: May 17 2008, 11:53

Quote (Alan D @ May 17 2008, 06:15)
The simplicity of Blake's Songs of Innocence - which you mention - has a profound backbone, with all kinds of resonances and ironies that may not be apparent at first.

Amusingly, the composer Vaughan Williams had a similar antipathy to the Songs of Innocence. He referred to the "Little Lamb Who Made Thee?" poem as "That beastly little lamb - a poem I hate". He was dismayed when he was commissioned to set the poems to music!

Such is Derridean textual theory that it's possible to perceive "resonances" in the telephone directory, if you feel so inclined. Yes, established opinion says they're present in the Songs of Innocence, and when you argue with the establishment you obviously have the cards stacked in your favour (just as these days everyone claims to be able to perceive the brilliance of Mozart, whereas in his day hardly anyone could). Whatever, given there's a dimension in music that's irreducible to the intellect (this was Kant's thesis, anyway), I guess we'll just have to conclude that I like "Peace on Earth" and you don't.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 17 2008, 13:22

Quote (nightspore @ May 17 2008, 16:53)
Amusingly, the composer Vaughan Williams had a similar antipathy to the Songs of Innocence. He referred to the "Little Lamb Who Made Thee?" poem as "That beastly little lamb - a poem I hate". He was dismayed when he was commissioned to set the poems to music!

I'm not surprised. If someone ripped a single Song of Innocence out of its context and somehow was able to present it to me without my recognising it, I'd probably feel the same. It has to be considered as a component of a whole - including the way it integrates and interacts with its illuminated page (not just as a piece of printed text - Blake didn't intend us to see only text), with the other poems in the series, and also with the Songs of Experience. Blake's is a truly composite art - the individual parts tend to fade or die if you isolate them (as people often unwisely do) - but I do feel we're now moving a million miles away from the Millennium Bell, really.

Quote
Such is Derridean textual theory that it's possible to perceive "resonances" in the telephone directory, if you feel so inclined. Yes, established opinion says they're present in the Songs of Innocence, and when you argue with the establishment you obviously have the cards stacked in your favour

Well, Derrida is probably more responsible than any other human being for the death of the love of literature in modern academic circles, so I certainly wouldn't want to seem allied to him in any way. My comments aren't based on established opinion, but on the personal experience of a near-lifetime's fascination with, and delight in, Blake's art - pursued purely for kicks, really, and to heck with established opinion. Blake's been one of my great personal mentors for decades. I can easily understand why people might glance at a couple of Songs and dismiss them - but they'll fascinate, mystify, move, and delight me, on and off, for the rest of my life. I know I'll never get to the bottom of them. The Millennium Bell (see how I'm desperately trying to stay on topic here), so far, hasn't come very close to having that kind of impact. But then, few things have.

Quote
I guess we'll just have to conclude that I like "Peace on Earth" and you don't.

Well, that is what it comes down to in the end, I guess. But as I said earlier when I mentioned the PreRaphaelites, I'm pretty sure the difference mostly arises because we have different tolerances in this particular area. One person's poignancy is another person's mawkishness. I'm not saying it's a bad piece of music - my personal response to it is too negative for me to be able to judge it fairly, really. I'm aware that I can't see it clearly because of my own baggage getting in the way, if you like. I think that's mostly what I've been trying (but taking a rather roundabout route) to explain.
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nightspore Online




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Posted: May 18 2008, 00:06

Alan, I agree that this is getting too far from "The Millennium Bell", so just a couple of final comments: Vaughan Williams disliked the Songs of Innocence in general, but hated "Little Lamb"...

My similar dislike for the Songs of Innocence doesn't extend to the rest of Blake's poetry. His longer poems deserve to be far better known than they are. How could anyone not be impressed by lines like: "Ask the blind worm the secrets of the grave and why her spires/Love to curl round the bones of death"? I similarly enjoy many of Blake's paintings.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: May 18 2008, 02:50

Quote (nightspore @ May 18 2008, 05:06)
Vaughan Williams disliked the Songs of Innocence in general, but hated "Little Lamb"...

But don't you think this really only tells us about VW and his personal tastes? There's no reason to suppose his opinion about Blake's poetry should be given particular weight. (Also, I rarely find negative criticism to be valuable - rather the opposite - unless I know a great deal about where the critic is coming from). As I've said here many times before, whether a given person 'likes' or 'dislikes' a particular work of art tells us nothing about the intrinsic merit of the art. My own likes and dislikes have changed so much over the years that I'm living proof of it. Many years ago I'd have said I hated opera, abstract painting, and the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Now I'm a passionate advocate of all of these. The art remained the same - it was only I that changed - so I'd be a fool to use my own personal dislike of something as an indicator of its merit as a work of art, when faced with such clear evidence of its limitations.

Getting back to the Millennium Bell, I find myself disconcertingly lukewarm about much of it, but I do have particular dislikes of certain pieces - like 'Peace on Earth'. So if I were producing an edited version of MB for my personal use, I'd probably edit out those parts. If I were doing it on behalf of Mike Oldfield, for general release (not that I'd want the job! ), I'd probably make different decisions, knowing something of the reasons for those personal dislikes of mine and trying to take them into account. So there are two separate issues here, and I'm not sure if we're clearly distinguishing them.
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SunkenForest Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2010, 13:54

While I regret not being able to vote for Pacha Mama, MB, or Sunlight Shining, or D's Palace, Lake Constance deserves my vote.


it knows why.  We go way back.
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Delfín Offline




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Posted: May 21 2010, 22:11

Lake Constance. What a wonderful summit of romanticism.

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andromeda Offline




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Posted: Sep. 10 2013, 05:15

One of my least favourite of Mike's albums - it just sounds soooo different than anything he had done previously. I voted for Lake Constance :)
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