Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Albums of 2014: Robert Reed - Sanctuary

Well, what can I say - I didn't expect this!!

Rob Reed is the keyboard player behind the Welsh band Magenta. The sound of Magenta certainly displays his Prog Rock influences in bands such a YES, Genesis, Pink Floyd etc. Magenta's latest album is called 
The 27 Club

But I never realised he was SUCH a Mike Oldfield fan. Almost as much as me!!

But he has been able to take this one step further - in fact, several steps further.

Now I've heard fans trying to recreate music inspired by Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn & Incantations by Mike Oldfield before but nothing prepared me for Sanctuary.

Firstly, Rob had to learn to play all of the instruments to an impressive standard because he wanted to play all of the music himself, exactly as Mike Oldfield had done on Tubular Bells. 

Rob had been making music by multi tracking on tapes ever since he was a teenager. Exactly how Mike had started his Tubular Bells project.

Rob saw aspects of his own personality in Mike Oldfield and his music resonated with the young Rob and has been with him ever since.

So in 2012, Rob started work on an album that would be inspired not only by the music of Mike Oldfield but also his working methods - no Pro Tools job here. This is music recorded almost exactly as Mike Oldfield did back on his first 4 albums, that set is still seen by fans and followers as the best music making period of his entire career.

Over 18 months, Rob put together Sanctuary. 

It is based around the Tubular Bells template of two sides of music about 20 minutes for each side.

In the video below, Rob talks about the project.

When you really 'listen' to Tubular Bells you can really hear the turmoil going on within Mike Oldfield at the time. There are moments of exhilaration followed by passages of deep sadness. 

Rob has followed a similar path within Sanctuary - the majority is uplifting but there are pieces of music contained within it which are quite melancholic. He'll probably hate me for saying this but I see the joy of Tubular Bells 2 within the work, even though it is steeped in the first Tubular Bells. 

Rob has referenced not only Tubular Bells but also the other 3 albums too. I can hear Hergest Ridge's pastoral beauty, Ommadawn's folk leanings and Incantations' rhythmic passages. And lots of other small pieces that, if you know the music of those first 4 albums like I do, you can pinpoint on each of those four albums.

The whole project would not stand up if it wasn't for the quality of the music. And I've got to say Rob has produced a masterpiece.
The music is SO strong, you could honestly believe that you are listening to a lost Mike Oldfield album from the mid 70s.

But Rob has also captured the 'feel' of Mike's playing - the emotion if you will. Recreating the sound is one thing, but recreating an emotion is a whole new ball game. And I believe Rob has got as close as he possibly could, within his own experiences.

To his credit, Rob did not just stop there. He contacted both Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth who were the original co-producers and engineers on Tubular Bells. They were so impressed, they agreed to work with Rob on Sanctuary. 

The album could so easily have become a pastiche but it stands up in it's own right as a totally gorgeous piece of music. 
The 5.1 surround sound version is just out of this world.

I never thought I'd hear another album like those first four Mike Oldfield albums ever again. Especially not from Mike himself. But Rob Reed has pulled something really magical out of the hat and given fans of early Mike Oldfield the album they've waited all these years for.
Fans of Mike Oldfield should absolutely love it.

And wouldn't it be fantastic if people heard this album first and then went back and investigated Mike Oldfield's first four albums?

I wish that Mike would be able to hear Sanctuary and think to himself that Rob has produced an astonishing piece of work and be able to say to himself, 'The boy done good' and I'm honoured to have been his influence & inspiration. Perhaps one day he will.

photos courtesy of Rob's Facebook page

Twitter - @robreedmagenta 

No comments:

Post a Comment