Music Of the Spheres March 17th, 2008
1. Harbinger 04:08
2. Animus 03:09
3. Silhouette 03:19
4. Shabda 04:00
5. The Tempest 05:48
6. Harbinger (reprise) 01.30
7. On My Heart 02:27 featuring Hayley Westenra
8. Aurora 03:42
9. Prophecy 02:54
10. On My Heart (reprise) 01:16
11. Harmonia Mundi 03:46
12. The Other Side 01:28
13. Empyrean 01:37
14. Musica Universalis 06:24
Total running time: 45.30
After 35 years, another first - Mike's first 'classical' album, Music of the Spheres. The concept is the relative movements of objects in space creating mathematical relationships which can be expressed as music and harmonies, but what exactly is classical music? Although there are many opinions about period, instruments, form and complexity, most seem to agree that classical music will last the test of time.
I did wonder how Mike would interpret 'classical'? Orchestral instruments, and hopefully the complexity of some of his most exciting work? I do have to admit that I did have one concern - Mike is renowned for his pursuit of perfection, and has been known to spend weeks looking for exactly the right sound to use in a recording. Without electronic sampling, and limited to less than 50 distinct instruments and choir, could Mike have limited his creativity by not using the full sound palette he is used to?
Music of the Spheres is indeed a complex layered Oldfield masterpiece, but which flows beautifully, revealing a relaxed and calm character which is never laboured or awkward. Haunting flutes, thundering timpani, wonderfully crisp classical guitar all combine in a very elegant creation, very different to the close and precise sound of a small recording studio, with a realism about it, an expansive sound with a grand sense of space.
The opening bars of Music of the Spheres sound familiar, being clearly derivative of the Tubular Bells intro, but don't let that stop you listening to the detail and intricacy which rapidly help you realise this is an absolutely distinct piece of music with its own character and soul. Right from the start, new themes begin and develop to a full and dynamic sound with the full encompassing power of a whole orchestra of musicians.
What Music of the Spheres shares with some of Mike's most stunning albums is a full range of contrast between beautiful quiet serenity and overwhelming intensity, held together with some of the most memorable melodies of Mike's career. Despite Karl Jenkins assisting with the orchestral arrangement, Mike's signature is unmistakable, from the layered and intertwined themes, to his own classical guitar, added to create a very natural and underused combination of guitar, choir and orchestra.
I've been wondering for a few years if music just can't move me in the way it did when I was younger, as it's been many years since I've heard anything that sent shivers down my spine, or had me close to tears. Hearing Music of the Spheres has reassured me that it's not my soul fading, but that music that moves as deeply as this is a very rare thing! However you may categorise it, Music of the Spheres will almost certainly last the test of time, but more than that, deserves instant recognition now for what is a truly exceptional masterpiece. Review by Chris Dewey
Music of the Spheres was released on CD and as digital download (not now on USB drive as previously planned) by Universal on 17th March Order now from Amazon. As of 15th March, the album was at number 4 in the Amazon Music Bestsellers Chart (and number one in the classical chart)!
A television advert has been produced for the UK and other markets
The European press launch event was on 7th March in Bilbao Spain, featuring soloists Mike Oldfield and Hayley Westenra, where the entire piece was played live with orchestra and choir for the international press, and was recorded and then mixed in Madrid for release as a bonus package when purchased with the album on iTunes. A group of our subscribers won tickets via our competition to win one of a limited number of tickets to the event. This rehearsal video was recorded on Tues 4th March in San Sebastián by eitb, with a video interview also available. There has also been some TV coverage of the live concert also available at elpais, elmundo and etb2:
The Daily Mail had a double page review in its reviews section (14th March).
Music Of The Spheres was ‘Album Of The Week’ in Morrisons, and was also be on instore display at Asda, Woolworths, WHSmith and Tesco. On ClassicFM, Simon Bates (08:00 till 12:00) has made the album his album of the week, playing pieces from it daily each day of the week. Mike also talked about MOTS on 'The Guest List' show on Sunday 06th April 2008 on Classic FM. Mike was also on 'The Classic FM Magazine Show' - presented by Mark Forrest.
Spheres, an original demo from the album was released as a digital download on 3rd March. From www.mikeoldfield.com: "The initial piece of music Mike recorded when conceiving the idea for this album and it doesn’t feature the involvement of Karl Jenkins or any other musicians." It will be available 'from all good digital retailers". This track was number one track at the download site www.7digital.com on 11th March
The promotional release in Music of the Spheres tin includes a heat sensitive mug mat, shaped insert brochure, and EPK disc featuring 2 video clips.
In this world, everything has a pulse or a vibration. This sound is unique to each living or non living thing and in itself creates a music that no-one can hear. I believe that this has a very powerful resonance with, and a deep effect, on our lives. What would happen if we took this further and apply this to bigger things, more powerful things: like an entire solar system or galaxy say, what would that sound like?
Musica Universalis is the ancient theory that every celestial body, the sun, the moon and the stars has an inner music. This is a harmonic and mathematical concept derived from the movements of the planets in the solar system. The music created is inaudible to the human ear.
Music of the Spheres is my interpretation of this theory. Every planet and every star: even the whole universe has music within it that no-one can hear, this is what it would sound like if it was set free. This is Music of the Spheres.