Monday, August 2, 2010

Mike Oldfield's Hergest Ridge

After becoming a prominent person of progressive rock scene Mike Oldfield continued his musical career composing material for new album. He found peaceful place suitable for creative working in country home near the border between England and Wales. One of recognizable points in this area was Hergest Ridge, the highest hill in England and this makes it the tittle hero of the new work. In spring 1974 he has recorded material for new album which had been premiered the same year on August 29th.
Just like composition of his debut album, this multi-thematic fantasy was divided into two parts – each one fill in the whole side of the album (side 1 - 21:40 and side 2 - 18:51). Comparing Hergest Ridge to Tubular Bells one have to notice improved orchestration and better economic of arrangement. Developing of this composition has been made not only in repetitions of the same material, like it was in Tubular Bells. Composer has reached his aim more by rearranging and variating rather basic motifs than themes.

Mike Oldfield - Hergest Ridge (1974)

Personnel was still based on multi-instrumental skills of composer who played on acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitars; Farfisa, Gemini, and Lowrey organs; glockenspiel, gong, mandolin, nutcracker, sleigh bells, Spanish guitar, timpani, and tubular bells. His abilities were supported by Ted Hobart (trumpet), percussionists Chilli Charles (snare drum) and William Murray (cymbal), wind instruments Lindsay Cooper (oboe), Terry Oldfield (woodwinds)  and June Whiting (oboe). vocals of Sally Oldfield and Clodagh Simonds, choir London Sinfonietta Voices and strings conducted by David Bedford.
Recording session took place in The Manor, exactly the same country house studio as it was with first album. Branson’s studio was idea took just from experiences of krautrock artists and this has ideological meaning. Working off the city studios, living in the countryside, eating no meat looking for alternative point of view was complex attitude for big part of after war generation in late sixties and early seventies. Ringing on the basis of massive vocal section in finale of first part tubular bells make religious-like connection for emotions and whole nature.

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