Mike Oldfield - Hergest RidgeHis first album after the seminal Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield’s Hergest Ridge dips into decidedly Celtic waters. The best thing about this epic two-part composition is that it really does take one on a journey – the main themes and motifs are developed, come to a climax, and then put on the back burner while other themes come to the fore, and everything reappears toward the end for a surprisingly laid-back summation. Despite the classical structure, it’s very much a modern work. Oldfield’s guitar work is nothing short of phenomenal, ranging from bucolic, Celtic-style strumming to full-blast heavy metal, and there are several thematic previews of his next album, Ommadawn, to be heard. (In fact, if you’ve got the hour or so to burn, I strongly suggest listening to Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn back to back.) There is also an abundance of orchestral instrumentation here, as well as a full choral version of one theme.

4 out of 4There really aren’t any drawbacks; this kind of longform composition has fallen into disuse these days, so those looking for convenient places to take a break may be a little put off by the length of the tracks. To them, I can only say that it’s worth it to sit and listen to this one (and indeed, to any of Oldfield’s longform works). Very highly recommended for those who want to hear an ambient instrumental piece that isn’t steeped in electronica, and lasts longer than five or six minutes.

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  1. Part One (21:28)
  2. Part Two (18:45)

Released by: Caroline
Release date: 1974
Total running time: 40:13