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Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.31 | 1219 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars For me this is the perfect realisation of the heap of ideas and influences that were Tubular Bells. Gone are the stretched arrangements, disastrous choices when creating dynamics and the unconscious naivety that effectively killed some of the pleasure of otherwise mostly excellent melodies.

The first seconds give away one of the secrets to why Ommadawn is superior to its older brother, with a sense of depth immediately present in the composition. A sort of choral, windy and ethereal backdrop is the perfect way to substantiate the airy guitar melodies on top. Oldfield has this great talent of playing fragile, but powerful music, where the force isn't reliant on volume or riffs or other traditional ways of fattening up the sound. Instead he relies on delivering convincing melodies in an almost endless flow, making the album a veritable feast for melody-loving proggers. On the whole, beauty, youth, friendship, naivety (now in the positive sense) and delicacy is what this album radiates. But there are pending danger, insecurity and drama to be found as well, especially as we move from the lighter beginnings and wanderings into more complex and conflict-ridden motifs. Sublime.

Focusing more on the ambient, flowing qualities that are possible with a 'symphonic' sound, than the more overtly technical aspects of it, while sometimes adding a soft, looped keyboard sequences, creates a generally hypnotising atmosphere that truly works - it pulls you right in to the heart of the music. And when you've reached that, there isn't much turning back. The linear main flow of Ommadawn part 1 never really stops, it just changes perspective, emotion, width and height, emphasising different parts of the music as if governed by a storyteller unseen for us. Many musicians, especially in prog, try to create epic journeys and adventures with their music, but few have the guts to do it like Oldfield. So much is left to discover, nothing is said, and the details and layering feel both independent and meticulously coordinated. You may not realise it, but with the most minimal of changes, a musical uprising is silently brewing, with nervous twitches and rousing bass gradually taking hold of you and making place for a bombastic release of compressed emotion. The big plus is that while I'm so impressed with how dynamic and rich in detail it all feels, there are just none of those rough and forced changes in directions that I mentioned earlier. It's mature and, above all, disciplined musicianship when it feels like the music controls itself, rather than being formed and controlled in the head of a composer.

Timeless is quite a non-descriptive word, but the fact that Ommadawn feels so incredibly fresh and impossible to pinpoint as sounding 70s or anything else guarantee that it will please many fans for many years to come. And by being so free of boundaries when it comes to sound (lacking direction altogether if you don't count the fact that it constantly stimulates your imagination), and deals with genres as possibilities for expansion rather than limitations, it secures a place in the most diverse of music lovers' hearts:

The giddy folk ditties with flute, bagpipes and matching string instruments. The solemn, traditional world music sounds. The awe-inspiring depth, variety and life in textures and timbre. The expressive and bombastic symphonic emotionality. The meditative, hypnotic and pleasing ambience. The chance to enjoy some wonderful guitar, be it acoustic or electric. The experience of picturing your very own movie inside your head, using this as the soundtrack.

Pick a favourite or find something new. You often do when listening to Ommadawn.

5 stars.


LinusW | 5/5 |


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