- Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" has an image problem. It's the track that helped make Sir Richard Branson rich, it was the theme for one of the most famous horror films ever made, The Exorcist, and it's a cornerstone of the prog-rock canon. It is, many might say, very uncool. (An incredulous Discogs user underscored the point when asking, "Who in the name of God does a 'Tubular Bells' remix in 2016?")
On "Tubular Bells (Oldfield)," Levon Vincent turns a slightly rearranged segment of the original piano intro into a double-time loop, nudging the phrase across his beat. Even in an abridged form, the music is instantly recognisable. But this isn't vintage Levon Vincent. Some of the atmospheric overdubs—curling wisps of noise, doom-laden pads—clang against the track at odd angles, and the recursive piano loop could do with a break now and then. On the other hand, the track's floating countermelody gives the ear something else to focus on, and the drums' escalating stomp is a hallmark of Vincent's classic work. Of all the "Tubular Bells" remixes out there, this is surely one of the most interesting.
The B-side's acid sound also has issues with overexposure. What sets "Birds" apart is the ambient swirl of noise around the 303 sequence: the squalls of an aviary, engulfed by what sounds like intercom static or an industrial-sized steam pipe. Of these two tracks, "Birds" is the gem, but "Tubular Bells (Oldfield)" will still turn some heads.
A Tubular Bells (Oldfield)