For some reason, I’ve always been a sucker for ‘recluse albums’. Whether it’s Paul McCartney hidden away on a Scottish farm following the demise of The Beatles, Mark Everett toiling away in the basement of his family home after his sister’s suicide, or Roger Waters writing The Wall in a darkened room, I do love the work of a tortured soul.
Having previously listened to Tubular Bells and failed to see what all the fuss was about, I wasn’t particularly bothered about trying out any of Mike Oldfield’s other albums. After hearing that its follow-up was recorded when the disillusioned songwriter retreated to a small village on the Welsh border, however, Hergest Ridge presented a prime opportunity to both indulge my taste for the recluse, and give Oldfield another go.
Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the album’s recording are far more interesting than the music itself.
If I were to get all deep and intellectual during this review, I’d discuss Oldfield and his new surroundings, and whether this impacted on the music etc. etc. As it is, I’ll sum this work up in much simpler, and accurate terms:
A big, fat ‘Meh’.
Oldfield was clearly going for something grand and meaningful here, but obviously forgot to put in any tunes, variety or passion somewhere along the way.
It isn’t bad, as such. I spent one of my listens sitting in the back garden on a warm summer’s evening, and it was a nice enough experience. The problem was that the music just wasn’t interesting enough to hold my attention, and for the majority of its 40 minutes, I daydreamed, staring vacantly at flowers and clouds with the album merely existing as background noise.
Good for relaxing or falling asleep to, but not much else.