Has anyone visited the Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden studios? The attention to detail with the sets and props is unbelievable, but even more surprising is the quality of the commodities they pedal in the various gift shops. Beautiful facsimiles of the wands, maps, and clothing made in the same Scottish factory that made the film’s costumes.
There must be somewhere else nearby called The Mike Oldfield Experience, modelled on the same principles, where you can buy an Ommodawn box of chants, drum and gated effects from Islands, Hergest Ridge pads, and maybe a bottle of Celtic vibe distilled from the Voyager album.
Musical Welsh Wizard Robert Reed has definitely spent his pocket money there and, by the sound of it, borrowed “the” guitar from the display cabinet. The third homage to a certain Mr. Oldfield’s oeuvre is called Sanctuary III but mercifully does not bear any resemblance to the Ibiza drenched third outing of the Tubular Bell variety, but what we do find is a superb folk rock symphony of the very highest playing standard with classical dynamics aplenty.
There’s whistles and bells (quite literally), great guitar lines, toe tapping bass, and a full drum kit courtesy of Simon Phillips. Recorder player Les Penning is back along with the original producer Tom Newman, who first recorded Vivian Stanshall introducing the vast array of TB’s instruments way back in 1973. The Bodhrán cements the connection too, with its nod to the Incantation period further adding to this recording’s lineage. Uilleann pipes, happy keyboard arpeggios and David Bedford styled girls voices end Part 1 with the sun rising on a rare rain free morning in The Valleys and it is as uplifting as it gets.
Part 2 uses even more of the souvenir shop’s merchandise as lilting voices flow over a backdrop of folky acoustic and the return of the mighty Irish Bodhrán, mic’d up millimetres from its skin. This album is expertly recorded by Reed who knows his equipment inside and out and it’s a perfect album to show off your own playback paraphernalia.
The bonus disc is probably even better due to the variation in the music, El Paso is Yul Brynner galloping across the plains whilst the opening organ of Moonsinger Rising is a nod to the true Mike Oldfield fan as it borrows greatly from the Oldfield enriched Instructions For Angels by the aforementioned Bedford.
If this was a new album by the man himself, it would be talked about as a glorious return to form, as it is Sanctuary III might yet again be dismissed as a tribute act daring to relight past glories. And if that is the case, why not? Support Rob’s brave decision with this instrumental album that is played from the heart and with true love for the man who saved our Olympic opening ceremony from the banal.
01. Sanctuary III Part 1 (21:13)
02. Sanctuary III Part 2 (20:48)
01. The Moonsinger Suite Parts 1 – 3 (21:52)
02. Troy’s Lament (3:14)
03. Perpetual Motion (3:41)
04. El Paso (3:03)
05. Moonsinger Rising (2:17)
Total – 34:07
Total Time – 76:08
Robert Reed – Keyboards, Guitars, Bass, Stringed Instruments, Percussion & numerous others
Simon Phillips – Drums
Les Penning – Recorder, Narrator
Gethin Liddington – Trumpet
Troy Donockley – Uilleann Pipes, Whistle
Angharad Brinn – Lead Vocal
Shan Cothi – Vocals, Opera Vocal
Synergy Vocals – Vocal Chants
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 20th April 2018