So let’s get this out of the way, this is not Mike Oldfield!
What we have here is the very talented multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Robert Reed, (of Magenta fame) with his follow up to the excellent ‘Sanctuary’ from 2014, on Tigermoth Records. Produced, mixed and engineered by Rob, and once again joined by the legendary original “Tubular Bells” production team of Tom Newman (who also plays a mean Bohdran) and Simon Heyworth, who have once again made important contributions to the sound of the album.
Rob was inspired to become a musician and composer at the age of seven after discovering Mike Oldfield‘s ‘Tubular Bells’. So inspired was he by the album, that he learned to play not just one, but all the instruments featured on the album. ‘Sanctuary II’ is a further opportunity to utilise his abilities as a multi-instrumentalist and create another album in this vein, available in various formats this is only a review of the main album.
So, how to review a follow up of the successful homage to an inspirational musician without mentioning him, let’s see…..
The weather may be dubious at the moment and varies in light, shade and temperature, there is promise of sunnier climes and thoughts of holidays as PART I drifts into the mind. Birds swoop across the sky as you look out across the sea the sun breaks the clouds, then you are transported to to some far flung land where natives of that country go about their daily tasks singing in harmonious tongue. Fishing nets are cleaned and hung out to dry in the warmth of the midday sun.
You lay back listening to the music your body warming like the nets, shaded by the nearby palms, eyes closed as the guitar drifts fluidly through your ears, caressing your senses.
The Synergy harmony changes to a more European flavour and you are swept away once more to a clearing in the English woods. The recorders of Les Penning and the twang of the banjo sparkle as the temperature of Simon Phillips’ percussion rises, guitars speeding round the trees, echoing keyboards and all dance in pagan celebration. Flowers are scattered in wild abandon as the frenzy reaches it’s peak and the harmonising gently brings it down again only to burst in quick flourishes, the dancers flushed with expounded energy and happiness, twirl and gyrate.
The solo angelic voice of siren Angharad Brinn leads to muted guitars and a respite from the festivities. Waterfalls of tinkling keys ripple along a brook which runs through the woods and the native tongues stir the guitar again as you run without care through the trees. A gentle summer breeze and trailing foliage brush your skin as you trip through the greenery. The marimba and vocals join as flowers sway and turn their open faces to the sun’s rays, catching the light. You burst into the clearing again and fall to rest along with everyone else as the first half draws to a celebratory close.
A gentle guitar and timpani refrain float in the introduction to PART II, the small sail boat that carries you across the lake buffets against the rippling water as the breeze of guitars and accompaniment of numerous instruments fill the sails and it picks up speed. The lure of Spanish style guitar and castanets draw you back to the isle in the centre of the watery expanse but as you near it is replaced with the warbling recorders and others as they raise a dance again.
Approaching the shore you can hear as all join in traditional steps, your fingers tapping on the boat side, ’tis a merry tune. The boat hits sand and you leap out to secure the mooring. Treading along the shore feet sinking in soft warm sand, you make your way toward the music as it wafts through the lush vegetation the siren briefly calling you before the instruments take up the rejoicing given direction by a synthesised voice.
The terrain rises gently as you follow the trail, winding it’s way upward as the music fades in the density of the plant life. Gentle keys and guitars plucked to guide you gently on your way and the voices seem momentarily distant now in the lush vegetation. You forge your path with the guitars determined to see what lies ahead, attain the rise and can see the clearing nestled among the trees below, the singers move from side to side in rhythmic motion and the glockenspiel signals your descent.
Throbbing bass, strummed strings and air breathed through drilled wooden pipes, guide your feet over the uneven path and running keys of water skip over stones and through crevices as it flows in the stream falling alongside. The dipping track quickens your step as the music keeps pace. Your pulse races to the beat and you burst through into the clearing once more, elated and surrounded by smiling faces, all is well with the World.
And there you have it.
Someone once asked what ‘Sanctuary’ sounded like and I advised along the lines of, it’s like Mike Oldfield but takes it further making it even more cheerful and uplifting. ‘II’ takes us on a magical, musical mystery tour and lifts the spirits higher.
I have only covered the main album, but if you can, buy the 3 disc deluxe digipak version, as not only do you get an extras disc packed with other wonderful tunes edits and remixes which did not make the main disc, but the whole album on DVD in 5.1 surround sound and 24/96 stereo mix (don’t ask), along with promo videos.
There will also be a chance to to see Rob record a performance of the album ‘Live’ at Real World Studios later in the year with a ten piece orchestra, if you are lucky enough to purchase a ‘golden’ ticket and be one of the privileged audience.
This may not be Mike Oldfield, but he may wish it was……..
Released 10th June 2016
Buy ‘Sanctuary II’ from Bandcamp