MIKE OLDFIELD – “THE KILLING FIELDS” soundtrack (1984)
When I do these discography projects of mine, where I go overboard and try my best to listen to every single thing a certain artist or band has recorded — I inevitably don’t make it all the way to the end. Not for lack of fortitude, but a lot of the time, out of lack of willpower. Often it will grind me down into a powder. When was the last time you managed to make it front-to-back through the Stones post-”Dirty Work”, Prince post-”Diamonds And Pearls” or Queen post-”The Game”?
I half-expected my run through the work of Mike Oldfield to go from fun to unlistenable rather quickly. Erroneously lumped into the crusty “New Age” category by my snap judgment early on in my days of snobbery, without ever having heard his debut album “Tubular Bells”, I took a chance on actually giving him a shot rather recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was “Tubular Bells” kind of terrific, but lots of his later ’70s and early ’80s work is sharp as well, in the prog-pop vein (a little like Eno, but without the squelch factor.)
As with most recording artists, however, Oldfield did make the inevitable slide into slack-jawed banality after a little more than ten years’ worth of work. This album, the soundtrack to the ’80s period piece about Cambodia’s infamous and bloody Pol Pot regime, is Oldfield’s final slab of solid creativity and clarity before it all became way too plastic and hippy-dippy for me. One Amazon reviewer sez:
This is Oldfield’s most visually evocative album ever. The music was so brilliantly matched to the action that every track brings a scene vividly to mind. A helicopter landing in a bombed-out street, a cow being airlifted, the sweep of the Cambodian rainforest, the horror of the “killing fields.”…[T]here’s some serious sound experimentation going on here.