Review Summary: The best album Mike Oldfield never made.
Sometimes it's hard to say when strong musical influences degenerate into parody. When you listen to this album there is little doubt that its brainchild Borja Ruiz, a multi-instrumentalist from Northern Spain, is a student of new age period Mike Oldfield. The strongest Oldfield influence is undoubtedly to be found within Ruiz's electric guitar style with its pleasing middly tones and flurrying melodic licks but all through this album the choice of instrumentation further enforces the Oldfield connection by evoking such classics as Tubular Bells
and Hergest Ridge
The new age credentials of the album are confirmed by Ruiz's statement that it was inspired by natural environments. 'Bajo El Reino De La Luna' (Under The Kingdom of the Moon) weaves its way through a delectable mix of celtic moods, world music, classical themes and gentle progressive rock. Female choral sections soar above ethereal analog synth melodies, electric and acoustic violins, mandolin and flutes which are interspersed with folk driven electric guitar passages and joyful major mode jigs. The similarities to early Oldfield are impossible to shake off at times but taken in isolation this is an extremely enjoyable ride, fairly brimming over with engaging melodies, evocative sound-scapes and gently stirring rhythms. The production is perfect for this type of music, clear and warm with no attempt to overwhelm the listener with over-compression or gimmicks of any kind.
Mike Oldfield lost his musical mojo a long, long time ago and has been churning out forgettable releases for the past 20 years or so, exemplified by his latest exercise in banality entitled 'Man On The Rocks'. However, I can say with some certainty that if this particular album had been composed and released by him this year then it would have been heralded as a cracking return to form. While undoubtedly skirting the edges of parody Borja Ruiz has managed to take many of the elements that made early Mike Oldfield music so great and amalgamate them into an extremely satisfying album. Hopefully he can move away from the Oldfield influences on future endeavours both with his song-writing and choice of instrumentation but when taken as a thinly veiled tribute to the mercurial genius this holds up extremely well.