Monday, November 18, 2013

Tubular Bells

Mike Oldfield can proudly count himself as one of the more notable individuals to emerge from the fertile and mind-bending prog-rock scene of the early 1970s. This was the time when legendary outfits like Pink Floyd, Yes and Jethro Tull were creating spacey, psychedelically influenced, and not to mention LSD-fuelled works that pushed the boundaries of what rock music could be. Armed with an innate sense for musical adventurism, Oldfield stood out as one of the more experimental artists in his field, taking in and mastering diverse genres like whimsical new age, straight-ahead rock, earthy folk and even stately classical music. Of course, his most celebrated work remains the groundbreaking instrumental collage 'Tubular Bells', infamously used as the theme for the rather over-indulgent shock-horror flick 'The Exorcist'. Check out the unedited, 26-minute version of this still awe-inspiring, instrumentally complex music montage, incorporating a brilliant myriad of rhythms, tones, pitches and harmonies that all complemented each other rather neatly, making for a bona fide prog-rock classic.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Goes Around

The six-member Shadowfax might have started off as a blues-based collective in late-1970s Chicago, but quickly metamorphosed into one of the leading proponents of intelligent new age music by the time of their eponymous debut in 1982. Shadowfax certainly wasn't your average David Lanz-emulating, Yanni-informed, boringly prosaic new age group specialising in sonic wallpaper. They had this admirable habit of incorporating diverse elements like elegant chamber jazz, courtly medieval measures, pulsating African tribal accents and meditative Indian modulations into their basic blueprint, instantly turning them into one of the most innovative and unique outfits in the scene. Check out the calmly ominous 'What Goes Around' from 1986, a rare vocal piece by the band that features some superlative alto-sax playing from chief Shadowfaxer Chuck Greenberg, who tragically died of a heart attack in 1995.