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Mike Oldfield - Return To Ommadawn CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 399 ratings

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5 stars Mike Oldfield is back with another swerve in his career, having already encompassed everything from prog, pop, electronica and folk. This "Return to Ommadawn" is shocking because the ace in the hole was deliberately kept waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Now , I enjoy pretty much all of his work, save a few albums that were not up to snuff, but loved the otherwise lambasted "Light and Shade", as well as "Man on the Rocks" (I prefer the instrumental option though). But this look back to the past was quite the move, a suave waltz into bygone days, and choosing the decidedly folkier "Ommadawn" to boot! Another "Tubular Bells" would have been a tad overkill but this splendid recreation is pure ear candy of the highest order, restrained yet highly melodic with a distinct Celtic vibe, crowned by magnificent edifices of sound, crystallized instrumental playing, incredibly technical but also seemingly effortless. A purity of tonalities , always an Oldfield characteristic, precise picking on both acoustic and electric guitars, sunny mandolins, swooning harp, smiling bouzouki and cowboy banjo, as well as a variety of understated yet symphonic keyboards. Oh, I forgot, chunky up-front bass all over the place!

The title track in two movements? Err...yeah, its prog! The constantly following melodies are blended, repeated and elevated by a slew of twists and turns, brief intermezzos and various panoramic sonic scenarios to create this perfect symbiosis of beauty and creativity , expertly attractive and wanting to be listened to again and again and again. His lead forays are some of the best, most intense and exhilarating since, well? forever. There is a smooth and silky authority in Michael's mature musical vision which is extremely apparent all over the grooves, with not a wasted moment. The final 4 minutes of the first movement is just plain ridiculous, a genius piece of soloing, if I ever heard one! Then killed off by an Andalusian sunset, warm breeze in the air, exotic flowers and lush fruit aromas. The second movement is a sunny ride into the Highlands, with occasional brooding foggy mists shrouding the horizon, a vivid and positive adventure that possesses both melancholia and hopeful joy. The opening acoustic guitar performance is a beauty to witness, helped along by a gentle choir in the background, a pearling piano and a surreal sense of serenity. More cinematographic music will not be made available in 2017, it's just a prodigious soundtrack that ebbs and flows, soars and dives , veers and careens like no other.

Some pundits are already garnishing this work with a heap of stars and endless praise, probably stunned into existence by the sheer surprise and the overt quality of the music. It's phenomenal art by any standard. The first major release in 2017 might end up the best in 2017, in December. Great proggy covert art as well.

5 forwards to the past

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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