Mike Oldfield's The Songs of Distant Earth
was inspired by a book by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke
, who gave the album a ringing endorsement in the liner notes. Of course, the association between literature and music is something more felt than generally understood, and while Oldfield
's recording was shot through with sound effects that seemed to relate to space travel (countdowns, etc.), it was less reminiscent of any writing than it was of earlier works by Oldfield
. And though by 1996 Oldfield
could make some claim to being the godfather not only of new age but of the recently popular version of it steeped in Celtic music (i.e., Enya
), he remained grounded in progressive rock so that, with its recurrent backbeat and stately, but penetrating guitar solos, his music continued to seem closer to Pink Floyd
than to Windham Hill.