Album review: ROBERT REED – Sanctuary

Robert Reed - Sanctuary

Tigermoth Records [Release date 21.07.14]

I don’t get this.  Robert Reed (erstwhile Magenta man and architect of the stupendous Kompendium last year) ploughing a furrow that was well tilled by Mike Oldfield forty years ago and even using his collaborators Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth.

Robert Reed makes no secret of his indebtedness to the great Mike, inspiring him as a child to take up music more seriously.  And he says that whilst this album takes its cue from Tubular Bells (a similar feat of musical prowess but this time Reed plays all instruments) he has also used voices for emotional impact, the so-called “wordless choir”.  But even that was a feature of Oldfield’s original.

However, the real feature (and weakness)  is that Reed plays cod-Oldfield guitar, with that characteristic thin tone and folksy inflection throughout.  Now if like me you were never that impressed with this guitar sound – which to his credit Oldfield modified over the years – you will find it all gets a little tedious.

The album is structured very much like Tubular Bells and the listener will almost certainly have a checklist of similarities ticking off in their head as they go along.  All that appears to be missing is the familiar 15/8 time motif and Viv Stanshall coming in at the end of side one to shout “Plus… Mike Oldfield’s lawyers”.

This album is a significant personal achievement for Reed.  He is a brilliant composer but surely his talents are better utilised in Magenta or another Kompendium or in something more original?

I am sure that the prog press will salivate all over this and we’re not even privy to the 5.1 surround mix.  As a tribute to Oldfield’s masterwork it is certainly impressive and Reed seems to have mastered a variety of instruments with almost missionary zeal.

It seems to me that Oldfield, whilst trailblazing in 1973, has dined out on his Magnum Opus ever since.  Reed’s album is a clever reinvention but I can’t see the same longevity, novelty or, indeed, the point of it all.   ***

Review by David Randall

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