The Millennium Bell is an attempt by Mike Oldfield to encapsulate 2,000 years of history with 11 slices of world music experimentation. From the Incan commemorative "Pacha Mama" to "Amber Lights," a celebration of political reform in South Africa, this album attempts to cover immense psychic territory. At some point, even the staunchest Oldfield supporters could end up questioning this odd and at times pretentious effort. The music is typical Oldfield: plodding, repetitive new age, sprinkled with some gentle melodic elements and sonic invention. The sparsely placed talk lines boost the minimal narrative at times, while choirs and orchestral elements add nice support to Oldfield's instruments. Ambitious to say the least, perhaps the composer is taking himself and his subjects too seriously here. In fact, The Millennium Bell is certain to come off to some people as obvious and full of itself, but to less cynical listeners and loyal fans it might play like an interesting and unique lesson.
The Millennium Bell Review
by Jason Anderson