Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Islands – Mike Oldfield [#643]

One lesson to learn when curating a large collection of music is to make regular backups. Last week I had to make an emergency restore of my Mac’s OS which meant having to resort to a backup from the iCloud. Unfortunately, this meant that only the files I’ve managed to upload via my very slow 21st Century rural broadband or those matched via iTunes are currently available for me to listen to. Indeed, today’s album, Islands, is not available on iTunes and my iCloud library does not have the files uploaded, which is a shame. Fortunately, I did manage to listen and pencil together a brief draft of observations for today’s entry but it means there may be a slight decline in posting regularity for the next couple of weeks. Please stay with me though!

Good old “x for £xx” deals. If it wasn’t for “x CDs for £xx” deals my music library would probably have been very sparse and I’d have a lot of money.  I first obtained Oldfield’s Islands on CD during a 3 for £20 deal at the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now Claus Ohlson) in the early nineties, I think I was still at school.

When Islands was released, computer graphics were, by today’s standards, a little bit shit. But that didn’t stop artists like Mike Oldfield from using visual media to add to their output. So when I came across the music video that accompanied this album, Wind Chimes, I was blown away. “WOW!” I would say, “Look at the detail on that vector graphic!” something I would struggle to recreate on my Commodore 64 even if I had the right programme to do something like that.

So a career in computer graphics passed me by because the technology I had to hand was insufficient to help tease me towards such an occupation. The self-realisation that already older people are often better at things than you is a big train not to miss.

The Wind Chimes is the long piece in this album and is riven with melodies, rhythms and motifs with a heavy eastern and international influences pretty much like most Avante Garde and artistic music of the time (see also the African influences in Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe). The other tracks are songs performed by the likes of Bonny “Total Eclipse” Tyler and Kevin “Nick Drake” Ayres. Also, curiously, Yes alumni Geoff Downes and Enigma’s Micheal Cretu also assisted with the production which just sends chills down my spine as trying to visualise the way my music tastes are connected is what inspired this whole project in the first place.

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Ipcress File – John Barry [#642]

If you’re one of those people who only engage with media that is no older than twenty years old, then not only are you deluding yourself, but you are missing out on a whole trove of cinema, music and literature. One such diamond in this trove is the 1965 film Ipcress File the soundtrack for which is today’s entry in the project.

The Ipcress File is pretty much how James Bond would be if he was real. Lots of form filling, shit salary and offices that have seen better days. The film follows the adventure of Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer character who is caught up in a bit of cold war era espionage involving the reprogramming of prominent scientists through sinister mind washing techniques employed by Soviet-era bad guys. There are more twists, turns and double-crosses in this film than a box of headphone cables.

The iconic music, also a diamond musically, has been sampled to death over the years by bands like Portishead and makes heavy and distinctive use of an instrument known as a Cimbalom.

The soundtrack was one of the first albums I bought through the new iTunes store back in the noughties. However, as I didn’t have a portable device capable of playing Apple’s proprietary music files, I could only listen when at my computer. This was, of course, in the time when computers where huge things that sat on your desk and not the candy bar sized multimedia devices of today. But when you see the film and the size of computers in 1965, you’ll be grateful you don’t have to cart one of those around if you want to make a phone call.

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