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Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.30 | 1333 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Here's another of those albums with one essential side and one that's perfect for collecting dust (or your more specific free-floating particle of choice) - "Ommadawn" exhausts all its fascinating themes by the end of side A and then gets downright rustic. Still, it's a pool of tranquility perfect for general ambient use - it's just that since "Ommadawn" was recorded, there has been an influx of rather minimal "strings, pipes and chimes" CD, most of which now sell at a considerable discount.

Let's consider the superior side A: three immediately identifiable themes weave their ways through different circumstances, describing to this reviewer a wake, a brief repose and a glorious if undisciplined march towards an uncertain enemy. More musically we have have a mixture of very high drones, strings and flutes to support the eternal star of the Oldfield sound - his unique and recognisable guitar technique; whether he is playing a melody or supporting with those echoing arpeggiations, his playing on this central instrument invariably steals the show. Another vital element of "Ommadawn, part I" is that it is supported only by non-rock percussion, including a powerful African drumline and waves of timpanism played by everyone's second favourite drummer. This lengthy piece might be - to this reviewer, of course - the last interesting Oldfield composition until the heady "Amarok" because when we dip into lazy garden folk it fits the song as just one facet of the whole - we can welcome the temporary quiet of the pastoral section halfway through because of what comes next, being a rather powerful closure that seems to evoke a different scene in the imagination of every listener. For me it brings the aforementioned war march; who knows how you'll interpret it?

Basically, side A of Ommadawn is a crucial piece of music from before the time of Oldfieldian diminishing returns and folk-pop; you should probably try to have heard it just to keep a handle of the breadth of progressive rock. If you happen to like the flipside too, then that's a fine bonus for you!

laplace | 3/5 |


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