Album review: Mike Oldfield (16) – The voyager (1996)

Celtic music is my favorite world music genre. There is no doubt about it and it’s been so for more than 25 years. I would put it right up there with the 80s synth sound as my favorite musical places. The nostalgia and inner peace I get when listening to Celtic music in unmatched. There’s something about those lands, about those shores with their mystery and always misty plains, with the eternal green and the rain that gets to me and makes me feel safe. I drift away in a place where nothing else can touch me and I can dream, reflect or remember. I go out of time when I listen to Celtic music. Mike Oldfield always incorporated a touch of this in his music, as part of his heritage but it wasn’t until 1996 that he wrote an entire album of Celtic music: “The voyager”.

And what an inspired title this is for what this album represents… the voyage isn’t physical because the lands it travels are not that many; the music travels paths inside me and make me take a voyage through my memories and most blissful safe places. Half of the album is made of traditional Celtic songs arranged by Mike Oldfield, classics like “Woman of Ireland” or “She moves through the fair”. I love hearing those pieces in every shape of form they come, they have become part of my own musical heritage and I feel as if I grew up with them.

The other half of the album has Mike write his own Celtic tracks. The untrained ear could barely tell though that this album comes from more than one composer. Mike’s “Celtic rain” or “The voyager” blend so well with the traditional melodies that you could put them in the same museum side by side and nobody could tell the difference. There are two tracks though which are a little different and they happen to be my favorites from the album.

First, there’s “Wild goose flaps its wings” where Mike wakes up his favorite instrument, the guitar, and makes it shine on the green shores of “The voyager”. In a crafty had this instrument can communicate so many different things and can simulate so many different sounds that I think he could have performer a Celtic cue just with the guitar and makes us think there were a lot more instruments in there. This track also has the most blissful of atmospheric motifs that almost make me feel the rain drops on my face and the touch of wet grass in my palms.

Then there’s the final track, the 12 minutes long “Mont St Michel”, as beautiful and fascinating as the Normandy island itself. The flute, the magical, longing, melancholic and innocent flute is the instrument that shines on this suite and separate the quiet first half of the track from the spectacular tempest from the second half where it sounds as if I’m listening to an epic cue from a dramatic movie. The instruments come together marvelously and I can imagine an entire orchestra not minding the storm and playing on a hill top overlooking the furious see. There is so much to love and connect to in “Mont St Michel”… it’s a musical fairy tale, a beautiful painting to put on the wall of your house on the spot you look at the most often.

“Voyager” is another Mike Oldfield album I love to listen to on a sunny afternoon while longing for a rainy one.

Track rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 59 / 59

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

The Song Of The Sun

Celtic Rain

The Hero

Woman Of Ireland

The Voyager

She Moves Through The Fair

Dark Island

Wild Goose Flaps Its Wings

Flowers Of The Forest

Mont St Michel

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