Monday, 26 October 2015

Remarkable Coincidences - Robert Reed

Sometimes, life just deals you a good hand. And disguises them in things called Coincidences.

So it was that I attended the Steve Hackett gig in Cardiff about 3 weeks ago. As I walked into the auditorium, I almost literally bumped into a man I recognised at once. This man was one Robert Reed. This man was responsible for releasing one of my favorite albums of last year (2014) - it was called Sanctuary.

I politely introduced myself and asked him about the follow up, Sanctuary 2, was coming along. We had a quick chat, and that was that.

It turns out Rob had seen my review of the first Sanctuary and we started discussing Mike Oldfield online. 
And that led to Rob inviting me up to his studio, luckily about a 30 minute drive from my home.

"Let's talk Mike Oldfield" he said.

So we both spent this morning discussing Mike throughout his career - how we both started listening to Mike's music - very, very similar experiences - two Welsh boys not living that far away from each other and having the same teenage obsession. No doubt if the internet had been available then, we might well have met years ago.

It was just two fans - raving about their favourite albums, passages, lost tracks.

I'm not a music journalist. Just a music fan. So, no recorders present, no notes taken. And it was great that Rob - being so busy at the moment - just decided he wanted to talk about music he loves.

This is Rob's latest release - a version of the Steve Hackett song Spectral Morning - featuring Big Big Train's David Longdon & Nick D'Virgilio,  fellow Magenta bandmate Christina Booth, Nick Beggs and a certain Mr Hackett - all in aid of Parkinson's society UK.

You can get it here

During our 3 hour conversation, we talked about music in general and also Rob's upcoming project -Kiama

But the conversation always came back to Mike Oldfield.

One thing that did emerge was that we both agreed that a lot of Mike's best work came when he collaborated with previous bandmate from his Kevin Ayers days, the composer David Bedford.

David Bedford was the composer/conductor of the two orchestral versions of Mike's first two albums - The Officially released Orchestral Tubular Bells

and the NOT Officially released Orchestral Hergest Ridge.

For the first decade, Mike Oldfield collaborated several times with David Bedford and produced some of the most remarkable playing of his whole career, playing with David on his own albums, some of which I have highlighted below.

If you have not heard any of David Bedford's albums, then they are worth checking out. Not all are an easy listen as he was regarded as an Avant Garde composer but they are never less than interesting and are often very moving.

The Jewel In The Crown of this morning's conversation was Rob playing me some of the initial recordings of his new Opus, Sanctuary 2.

And I can report that it sounds simply beautiful. I was lucky enough to hear pieces both in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound through the studio monitors.

Having thought about it since I got home - the best way I can describe it is imagine Sanctuary 1 but wearing velvet and brocade. The sound is richer and more lush. But I stress that these are early mixes and may change. If you liked Sanctuary then I think you'll adore Sanctuary 2.

When I arrived at the building that contains Rob's studio - I saw two Magpies on the roof - no need to salute the single Magpie and the duo certainly brought me some good luck today.

We did discuss more - but sometimes what's said in the studio - must stay in the studio.

A day to remember - thanks to Rob Reed.

Twitter - @robreedmagenta

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