If Terry Oldfield’s new album Journey into Space was a ticket for an interstellar round trip, I would have to ask for a refund – because the the album is much closer to world music than space music. But that is not a bad thing, because the earthbound, homely qualities here are simply not to miss. Journey Into Space is a powerful, meditative masterwork where Terry’s focus on quality is apparent on all 10 tracks, in every sound of the flute.
The first thing I heard about this album was when the news got out that Mike Oldfield, Terry’s little brother, was to perform on it. Terry and Mike have performed and recorded together off and on for the last 40 years or so (since the Barefoot band days), so that in itself was not something special. But this comment by Mike’s on Facebook caught my interest;
I have always had a bit of resistance to the term “New Age” music and I feel that this “Chill Out” album from Terry will do much to lift his name well out of that genre. I have really enjoyed the chance to interact and play with my Brother on this project and wish him great success with this release. – Mike Oldfield
I understand fully Mike’s “problem” with the term New Age Music. His releases have always been in the hard-to-define zone between prog rock, easy listening and light jazz. It is also a fact that at Mike thinks much higher of Chill Out, seen for instance in the way he labeled the Tres Lunas album as Chill. That said, I doubt that Terry wants to be “lifted out” of the New Age music genre, where he is such an important and loved artist.
Journey into Space starts with a simply fantastic track; Origin. The first synth chord sets the stage in a powerful and eerie way. The male vocal is superhuman, and the first sounds of Terry’s flute indicates that we are witnessing (and hearing) something big. Mike’s guitar is more playful and laid-back. It is far from Mike’s guitar on for instance Let There Be Light (from The Songs of Distant Earth, 1994), which has some of the same atmosphere – but not the same drive. But that is OK, since this is Terry’s album. The first track is a marvelous start, and I recommend everyone to check it out.
The song Flight of the Eagle gives a very nice feeling of freedom and lightness, and Mike’s guitar and Terry’s flute are perfect together. I also like Terry’s vocals here, but as a radio host I know that I will loose some listeners when a track like this becomes too ethnic sounding. But that’s OK, if they don’t like it they don’t have to listen, right? Here is also a very beautiful song with a great female vocal. Radha Bornstein’s singing on Shadow Dancer is pop-ish and suitable for a general audience. The song Jai Ram contains an Ancient mantra. For the song Moola Mantra Terry gives this presentation:
Moola Mantra contains ancient words that speaks of the divine union between Male and Female or Yin and Yang as we explore deeply within ourselves the vast space that exists between things and the togetherness and peace that grows with the acceptance of it all.
The song Be still ends the album, which is a very nice round-up with previous song elements. I was as mentioned somewhat surprised with this album, because the Journey into Space title made me think of space music a la Edgard Froesse. Instead I found an album that has the sound and feel of our beautiful world – and that is thankfully more than enough. Terry’s flute seems better to describe deep waters (like in the incredible Out of the Depths, 1993) than the deepness of space.
Title aside; Journey into Space is a fantastic album. The rhythm makes it perfect for both meditation and exercise. It is a great choice for both new and old fans of Terry Oldfield, and it will inspire them to check out more of his impressive discography. Mike Oldfield’s fans on the other hand will probably find more joy in a replay of Amarok…
Score: 91 / 100
Sample the album on: