Gatefold jacket, black vinyl. Limited re-edition of 500 copies.
The label in England most associated with the 1970’s progressive rock sound was Virgin Records, headed up by then aspiring entertainment mogul Richard Branson. Trendsetting ‘70s albums from Mike Oldfield, Robert Wyatt, Gong, Hatfield & The North, Tangerine Dream and more solidified Virgin’s reputation as 20th Century music pacesetters. In 1975, Virgin pulled one of their coolest moves to date, securing U.K. releases for two Finnish progressive music classics – Nuclear Nightclub from Wigwam and B The Magpie from Pekka Pohjola.
The ace up Branson’s sleeve during Virgin’s early years was guitarist Mike Oldfield – the early folk-rocker turned symphonic- rock icon who took the music world by storm with Tubular Bells. That album’s ominous guitar figure, featured in The Exorcist soundtrack, gave Mike tons of recognition, yet in the aftermath of major success there was a less than ecstatic reception for his next album, Hergest Ridge. Virgin, keenly aware of Oldfield’s musical progression, primed the guitar wiz for his next big move by making him co-producer of a new Virgin Records release from Finnish symphonic rock great Pekka Pohjola. Pohjola’s follow up album to B The Magpie, (a/k/a Harakka Bialoipokku), Mathematician’s Air Display was easily among the finest instrumental albums to date from the original Virgin Records label.
Mathematician’s Air Display clocks in at just under 35 minutes, yet within it’s grooves are so many superbly crafted musical ideas. Supplying bass, grand piano and synthesizers, Pekka wrote and arranged some wondrous melodies for the album and Mike Oldfield’s guitar playing was some of his best of the ‘70s. Also partaking in this once in a lifetime Pohjola & Oldfield collaboration was Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen and long time Pohjola cohorts from Made In Sweden – Georg Wadenius (guitar) and Wlodek Gulkowski (synths). Additional drumming is supplied by the great Vesa Aaltonen and topping off the proceedings are ethereal backing vocals from Mike’s sister, Sally Oldfield. The dynamic guitar-driven title track, ”Mathematician’s Air Display”, remains a definite highlight as does the soaring 16 minute symphonic rock suite entitled ”The Consequences Of Head Bending”.
Reflecting back 45 years after it’s initial release, Mathematician’s Air Display still sounds amazing and remains a masterpiece from the golden age of ‘70s progressive rock.