Forget the yammering on the CD booklet about how every track on Mike Oldfield’s Music of the Spheres is supposed to represent the planets and the stars and what not – the fellow is selling his music to new age music fans who expect this kind of pretentious philosophical yammering about nothing and everything from their artists. What this CD really is all about is Mike Oldfield doing Classic FM. Backed by the Sinfonia Sfera Orchestra and an occasional choir and with Karl Jenkins of Adiemus fame co-helming the project, the result is comparable to those albums that feature symphony orchestral remakes of popular tunes.
The first track, Harbinger, may have an impressive title but it’s Tubular Bells, that song that poor Mr Oldfield can never get away from, remade into an orchestral version. It’s inevitably bland and pointless, like every other remake of that song in every other CD by Mr Oldfield. The other tracks are lush, dramatic, and full of strings surging into a turgid wave of crescendo at all the predictable moments. It’s as if I’m trapped in a Hans Zimmer soundtrack for life. It is also unfortunate for Mr Oldfield that the best track here, the delicate fusion of Spanish guitars, Eastern harmonies, and ethereal chants called Shabda, is more at home in an Adiemus CD than a Mike Oldfield one.
The presence of the bland Hayley Westerna and the insipid Lang Lang only drive home the fact that this CD is more like Mr Oldfield’s audition to become a source for sweeping soundtrack anthems or standard request materials for lunchtime dedication shows over the classical music radio channel. Not that I’m saying this CD is terrible – it is inoffensive like most elevator music – it’s just not something I am expecting from someone who has put out better works before. Music of the Spheres is just so… lunchtime Classic FM material.