I haven’t listened to Mike Oldfield since Songs of Distant Earth that came out in 1996. I love his older works and they never cease to fascinate me. The double-CD compilation Light + Shade sees Mr Oldfield ditching his studio equipment and instruments for his PC, because all the tracks on this CD is created that way to reflect his latest taste in music: background music played in pretentious lounges, if this collection of tepid Buddha Bar music is anything to go by. Is he making music for aging hippies dying to relive the glory days of the past by taking too much drugs and slipping underaged girls marijuana to recapture their youth? Because apart from curing sleeping problems, the two CDs that make up Light + Shade aren’t of much use really.
The first CD, called Light, is a little more towards Mr Oldfield’s previous styling. The key word is “a little”. The Gate is halfway decent track but it’s the only standout piece in a sea of tinkling piano muzak and other musical efforts that seem lifted from the soundbites of the TV series Touched by an Angel. The second CD, Dark, is all about techno and ambient tracks. The problem is that Mr Oldfield seems to be influenced a little too much by the ambient tracks he hears at his favorite lounge where he’s trying to pick up some schoolgirl working part-time as a waitress. The melody is aimless and the tracks just meander around without actually grabbing the senses.
Speaking of that waitress, this CD may just be the piece of fluff he whipped up to impress that silly girl and once the bong haze is over and the studio execs are demanding that he turn in something they can sell to the public, he has no choice but to hand over the fluff and hope that his fans are zealous enough to like it just because his name is on the CD cover. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the huge dive in quality in Mr Oldfield’s latest output.