Additional notes from Richard Carter's Mike Oldfield Discography
Notes On The Instruments
Claptrap - An electronic drum module made by Simmons, a company famous for making electronic drum kits.
Aboriginal Rhythm Sticks - Wooden sticks that are clapped together (which is why they sometimes get called clapsticks) to make a clicking noise. They're usually about 25cm long, and vaguely cigar shaped, with pointed ends. The ones I've seen (and own) are decorated with aboriginal patterns.
CS80 Steel drums - The CS80 was actually a large, polyphonic synthesiser, released by Yamaha in 1977. As well as Vangelis and Kraftwerk, another famous act to use the CS80 was Genesis, who David Hentschel had worked with.
On the subject of synthesisers, Mike seems to have been one of the few famous users of the Korg Sigma, a fairly basic analogue synth that used mostly preset sounds (apart from a few editable parameters) - similar to the Roland SH1000 he used on Incantations and the following albums (including, QE2). The Sigma was released in 1979, so Mike may have used it on this album, though it seems it wasn't an instrument many players of the time wanted to be seen with.
Vocoder - A device that featured heavily on QE2 and his next album, Five Miles Out. A vocoder is able to take the characteristics of one signal (the modulator) and impart them on another (the carrier). If the modulator is speech, it will make the carrier signal (often something like a synth strings sound) seem to 'sing'. On 'Mirage', Mike Frye's drums are used as modulator - it seems to have been fed straight from the drum tracks, as the vocoded synth sound (which you can hear right at the beginning) follows the timing of the drums exactly when they come in.
Mike used a Roland VP330 vocoder.
Electric Guitars - Mike seemed to make a lot of use of his SG Junior on this album. There also seem to be appearances from his Fender Telecaster and Gibson L6s.
Notes On The Musicians
Dick (Richard) Studt - After beginning playing the violin at the age of 4, Richard joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in his early teens. From there, he went on to become concert master of the London Symphony Orchestra during the late 1970s. Has appeared as soloist and as conductor in numerous concerts , recordings and TV programmes. Also played on 'The Innes book of records' album (1979) by Neil Innes of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and the theme tune to the ITV (UK TV channel) series 'Jeeves and Wooster'.
Raul D'Olivera - Jazz trumpeter (also plays flugelhorn and percussion), now plays with the group Cubana Bop, a seven piece latin jazz outfit. Raul has also played with artists such as Elton John, Joan Armatrading and Gary Moore.
Guy Barker - Another jazz trumpeter, leads his own quintet as well as doing numerous sessions. Guy has appeared on albums by artists including Peter Gabriel, Tom Jones, Erasure, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney.
Philip Todd - Saxophonist and flautist, has played with Björk, Brian Eno, Tom Jones (on the same album as Guy Barker...), The Pet Shop Boys, Joni Mitchell and many more. Philip also played alongside Peter Lemer (keyboardist on Platinum) in the Funk-Jazz group Paul Carmichael's Flight.
Paul Nieman - Trombonist, has played with artists including Diana Ross, George Harrison, The Stranglers, The Soft Machine and Neil Innes. Paul has also played on many recordings of early music, as a member of various consorts. Now plays in a Brazillian music band, Nóis, and designs websites, as well as continuing playing early music.
David Hentschel - has worked with all sorts of people as engineer, producer, composer and arranger. Some names he's worked with include Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Genesis. He's also written the scores for many films, including Educating Rita and The Squeeze. More about him can be found at his website.
With QE2, Mike attempted to cooperate with his record company, Virgin, a bit more. His hope was that if he took their suggestions on board, they would promote his albums better, especially in the USA where they sometimes weren't being released at all. At their suggestion, he recorded covers of Abba's track 'Arrival' and 'Wonderful land', a piece made famous by The Shadows. He also took David Hentschel on board, who at the time was working with Genesis. Virgin still didn't promote the album in the way Mike would have liked, however, which caused further resentment.
Conflict contains a small piece of Bach - part of his Suite no 2 in B minor, a section known as Badinerie. You can find a midi file of it on the Bach page of classicalarchives.com.
Nobody seems to know who did the cover. It shows a stylised view of the bow of a cruise ship, like the QE2. The LP took the idea further, and had a 'porthole' cut into the front of it. The inner sleeve had various 'blueprint' type drawings on it, and the centre label had a life-ring design on it. You can take a look at these images here.
© Richard Carter 2001