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Mike Oldfield - Return To Ommadawn CD (album) cover

RETURN TO OMMADAWN

Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog


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4 stars The long-awaited sequel to Ommadawn (even though Mike previously stated Amarok was a sort of Ommadawn II) is finally released. This is the first album consisting of side-long tracks (can the term still be used when albums aren't released on vinyl anymore?) Mike released since 1978's Incantations and I'm glad to see hasn't lost his touch.

As expected, the album continues with Ommadawn's Celtic influences and reuses a lot of its instrumentation, such as penny whistles, African drums, Bodhran, glockenspiel, mandolin and climactic guitar solos.

In contrast to Ommadawn, where he had plenty of collaborators (notably, The Chieftains' Paddy Moloney on uilleann pipes, the South African Jabula drummers, Terry Oldfield on panpipes, Clodagh Simonds, Bridget St John and Sally Oldfield on vocals), Mike played all the instruments this time around, except for some vocal excerpts from Ommadawn.

The themes are shorter and sparser this time around. The music is much more uplifting and lacking the original's mysteriousness. Sonically, this is a safe album, not treading any new significant ground, which is the reason I am withholding the fifth star. Despite this, I think it lives up to the name of successor to Ommadawn.

The electric guitar and bass are much more prevalent, though Mike also plays plenty of acoustic instruments, such as guitars, acoustic bass, Celtic harp, mandolin, ukulele and banjo. Interestingly, this is the first Oldfield album to feature the Mellotron (I think those are Mellotron strings around the 8 and 15 minute marks). Several of the bass riffs remind me of the Master of Ceremonies section in Tubular Bells, though I didn't hear yet another variation on the Tubular Bells introductory theme, thankfully.

The melodies are a bit more saccharine this time around, reminding me of Voyager (at one point halfway through Part 2 I thought I recognized the Song of the Sun theme), but without the new age synths. One guitar solo reminded me my favorite Amarok guitar solo around the 6 minute mark, but sadly there were no cathartic moments such as the guitar solos ending Part 1 and Part 2 of the original. Still, I'm glad to see the musicianship is still excellent and that Mike still has an ear for memorable themes.

I haven't heard the albums Oldfield released between Guitars and Music of the Spheres, but I can wholeheartedly state that this is his best album I've heard since The Songs of Distant Earth. Return to Ommadawn may not be very adventurous, but it still is a masterfully played instrumental album in the vein of Oldfield's 70's compositions. A few years ago, I honestly didn't think Mike would ever return to long-form instrumental compositions and this will prove to be real treat for his devoted fans.

Report this review (#1682625)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
Nogbad_The_Bad
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
5 stars I have been waiting for this album for so long, only two listens in but its a real return to form for Mike Oldfield. Two long pieces wholly played by Mike and a return to primarily acoustic instruments. Lots of pastoral and Celtic feel. There are occasional references back to the previous masterpiece, Ommadawn, but this is essentially a completely new work in the style on the classic Hergest Ridge to Incantations period. Also nice to see a return of bouzouki, mandolin, harp and glockenspiel, though it is primarily a guitar & bass album heavily featuring his definitive tone. This may be my favorite album by him since Amarok. It ebbs and flows, has peaks and valleys, it a beautiful album. Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of his classic period.
Report this review (#1682798)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars From Mike discography i've listened to Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn, from these three albums my favorite has to be Ommadawn really, so beautifully made, has a incredible natural feel to it, one of my favorite albums for sure, but when i see the score and reviews from later albums i can feel that if i listen to any of these i'm gonna be dissapointed, after seeing the documentary from Mr.Oldfield i was more sad than before, because i know how a genius this man is and he can do extraordinary music like it's early years, and here is it, Return to Ommadawn, 42 years after Ommadawn...He made it again? made another beautiful extraordinare album? or just made a mediocre new-age album like these albums from these last years?

From the flute and glockenspiel in the beggining of Return To Ommadawn, Part 1 i was already happy, happy to know that the feel from 42 years ago returned, and i was right!

Return to Ommadawn, Part 1: recovered the feeling from the 70s, of grandiose and natural music, it really feel like a continuation, like anything between these years have not existed, from the flute to the voices in the middle of the composition, remembering the listener of Ommadawn even more, from the extremely diverse instruments played by this only genius mind, the mandolin, the guitar, the glockenspiel, so beautiful!!

Return to Ommadawn, Part 2: it has to be my favorite track, because of the acoustic guitar work, remembering of Hergest Ridge, and finally, my favorite part but short, the 'On Horseback' recall at the final, just finished one of the best albums i've heard and that i can't stop listening(i just listened it 8 times non-stop, hell, i'm listening it right now!). Yes people, the genius the multi-instrumentalist genius is back, and on a level that top even the proper Tubular Bells and Ommadawn!!

Report this review (#1683065)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hey Mike you did it right this time ! This is not a full return to Ommadown actually; reminescences of the Distant Earth songs are lying there obviously. But hey, now for sure you got rid of your 90ies and new millelium errances and deliver pleasure and dream again !

Curiously, the overall tone reminds me of the "Instrumental side" of the little known "The complete" compilation : Arrival, William Tell Overture, In Dulci Jubilo, Portsmouth, Guilty ... Not these songs, but the feeling of the side as a whole...

This feeling has a name : Joy. This album is joyfull. Think joyfuyll the way Mozart wrote in is early years.

From a progressive point of view my only regrets would be a relative lack of dynamics on both sides, and the lack of development of some themes. I cannot give it a full 5 but a solid 4 and believe it ranks among the top five better MO album.

Report this review (#1683783)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Return to Ommadawn rearranges Mike Oldfield's top 3 albums with a look to the top 1 spot of its conceptual predecessor

It is just inspiring to witness such a phenomenon with a legendary artist who produced plenty of mediocre albums recent years and now returns with a shining continuation of his sacred trademark after all these years and decades. I think Return to Ommadawn easily assumes the second place in Mike Oldfield's discography with its balanced refinement and grace of the sound and transition between the parts of both compositions. The mature energy and the particoloured harmony stream from the whole album. The Celtic folklore influence is beautifully blended with Mike Oldfield's typical progressive / new age / classic guitar style in an extremely intensively emotional whispering and weeping manner. The flow of the compositions is excellent. Each part interrupts exactly where it should. These are some of the components where Ommadawn II prevails over Ommadawn I. Of course, the rough youthful beauty of the simultaneous combination of all parts' ideas at the end of the first composition of Ommadawn I is unachievable at that age, but the passion here prevails. Personally I can't stop listen to this amazing album. Strongly recommended to all romantic warriors...

One of the best albums of the decade.

Potentially the best crossover prog album of all time.

Expressiveness at top level.

Report this review (#1683816)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm no experienced reviewer so I will keep it short.

Return to Ommadawn is really great. Honestly that's the best way I can put it. And I'm not trying to undersell it, it truly is really great! It is not quite the masterpiece it's "prequel" is, but the high moments on this record are very convincing. I love the classic sounding Oldfield guitar solo over some commanding acoustic guitar strumming around the 17 minute mark. The atmosphere on this record is a solid mix between Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge. It captures Mike's seemingly long lost spirit in a truly authentic way, not forced or tiresome.

This record does lack some of the fast pace and excitement found in the original Ommadawn. Most of the sections linger for longer and some of the transitions seem overdue. But the strengths in atmosphere and composition of each section mostly make up for this.

When I was a younger teenager, my family took a trip up the coast of California. I had been on many vacations before, to beautiful locations as well. Most of those places I had been visiting before I even knew where my real home was, so their sense of wonder was somewhat worn out. So this was sort of my first real vacation to an unknown frontier. My choice of soundtrack for most of the trip happened to be Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn. I found these albums to be perfect companions for this time of discovery and wonder, and they have been attached to those memories and the feeling of adventure and discovery ever since. Keeping this in mind while I listened to this for the first time, I couldn't fight back a few tears when I heard the return of the children singing "Hey and away we go!" from On Horseback. So even with imperfections this album captures every feeling from HR and Ommadawn I wanted to feel for the first time again, and that really is the most important thing for me. Thanks Mike!

Report this review (#1683989)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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

Report this review (#1685142)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Return to Ommadawn could almost be subtitled Return to Vinyl, given that it sees the welcome return of the "two sidelong suites" structure of Mike Oldfield's early albums in a manner which, if it isn't intentionally chosen to be amenable to vinyl issues, is at least convenient for that purpose.

But fear not - this isn't just a matter of Oldfield grabbing 40 minutes of his latest warblings, slicing them in half and shovelling them out the door. Instead, the album is a thoughtful continuation of the general compositional and performance approach of Ommadawn, and your feelings about that album will likely affect how you feel about this one. You still have the Celtic percussion and acoustic guitar, you still have the soaring guitar solos, you still have the wistful atmosphere. You don't have a happy children's song about a horse to round things off, mind, though you can detect a few gentle lifts from "On Horseback" as the second half comes to a close.

Given how tepid and uninspired Oldfield's occasional rehash of Tubular Bells had become, I was a little worried about this one, but I am very glad to report that it's a genuinely strong sequel to Ommadawn that will enchant fans of that album and put off anyone who was turned off by it. This is clearly no cheap nostalgia exercise, but the culmination of a creative process that Oldfield is genuinely invested in. (He's been toying with the idea of a sequel album like this for a while, and nearly went there with Amarok before that project evolved into the weird hate letter to Richard Branson it became.) This return to Oldfield's classic early approach may be nostalgia-inducing, but it's appropriate for a sequel to such a nostalgia-tinged album as Ommadawn in the first place.

Report this review (#1687528)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mike you beautiful son of a gun. After all this time you come back and manage to create a strong contender for best album of the 2010s. "Return to Ommadawn" has got to be the most genuine, beautiful and passionate piece of music out there. Every few minutes is a different emotion, from hope to triumph to yearning, distilled into its purest form.

If you're familiar with Mike Oldfield then it's a return to form of his 70s classics + Amarok with a modern sound (well, 2017 modern anyway) and perhaps a touch more new agey stuff. If you have no idea what to expect from Mike Oldfield then it's instrumental progressive "world music" with a Celtic leaning, often propelled by powerful guitar and evoking a sense of nature.

The only issue I have is the beginning of Part 2 is too good. After the first five minutes are over, I chase that dragon and barely pay attention to the next few minutes. I got a little misty-eyed the first time I heard it, and it still moves me dozens of listens later. And yet, the album doesn't take itself too seriously; there are plenty of parts where Oldfield's obviously having fun.

5/5 stars without a doubt in my mind.

Report this review (#1692276)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review #46. Mike Oldfield is back! You know, the extremely talented musician who recorded some real masterpieces in the past, like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, etc. So, after a series of rather unsuccessful albums, (that had nothing to offer really), he decided to surprise us with this new brilliant album! Return to Ommadawn includes two long suites, which brings to memory the vinyl days. One song for each side of the vinyl edition of the album. (Those who grew up with vinyl albums know perfectly well what I'm talking about). So, what we have here, are the two parts of the same suite, both instrumental and beautiful. Mike Oldfield is playing a big variety of instruments, including guitars, piano, bouzouki, banjo, accordion, mandolin, glockenspiel and percussion, among others. There is a strong "essence" of traditional English and Celtic music spread throughout the album, and that is something I think is wonderful, and improves the listening enjoyment. (Well, mine at least). The structure and the changing tunes and motives of these two songs give the impression of different songs, but the truth is that it is always the same song; which keeps coming back to the repeatable main theme every now and then. I don't know about you, but personally speaking I was kind of impressed. And although it is too early, I have the feeling that Return to Ommadawn is going to be one of the albums that will make the difference this year! To those that can appreciate this kind of music at least. If you want my advice, find/buy the album, put it on your device, (PC, CD, vinyl player, or whatever device you use), pour a glass of wine, sit comfortable, and get ready for a beautiful "travel", having Mike Oldfield's music as the soundtrack. You will definitely enjoy it! 4.0 stars.
Report this review (#1692903)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars After several listens of "Return To Ommadawn", I am very surprised with the high level of positive reviews here. I don't think it is a bad album at all. The sound itself is excellent. The instruments are very well played. The classic Oldfield sound is definitely there. But what is missing to my ears is the unique haunting melodies that make up the first 3 albums. The tear inducing sections that I had hoped for are absent. Instead, this sounds to me like Mike Oldfield doing a beautiful production of... a Celtic New Age album. He doesn't change keys much at all, and I hear no real interesing or compelling chord changes. The parts named "Latin" and "Jazz" on TB2003, were strikingly both unique and beautiful, and there is nothing that comes close to that level of intrigue here. It is certainly a nice album nonetheless, with its celtic new age styled melodies, played very beautifully by a highly skilled musician, and his musicianship is not to be downplayed. And the fact of his doing a more acoustic based long form album, is makes me hopeful that he will venture deeper into intriguing and more unique melodies in the future.
Report this review (#1705424)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars *Almost* four stars.

While Mike Oldfield has made many sequels to Tubular Bells, it took him 42 years to make the first official sequel to Ommadawn, his masterpiece. In many ways, this is the album we have been waiting for Oldfield to make for almost this long. It is structured into two 21-minute halves (labelled part 1 and part 2), just like his first three albums. And like those, it moves through a series of themes that build and shift, leading to minor musical climaxes. There is a lot to like about this album. First and foremost, we finally get to hear Oldfield play lots of guitar! (I really liked Music of the Spheres, but the one flaw with that album is the paucity of guitar solos. One has to go back to his 'Guitars' album to get this much guitar playing). Another thing I really like about this album is that it is not over-laden with instrumentation (which was a problem with many of his albums from 'Incantations' onward). Much of this album is quiet, allowing the guitar-playing to shine through. Also, unlike Tubular Bells II (which I just reviewed) this album is not a copy of the original, although it clearly refers to the original in a few places (see below). But overall, this music is new and original (unlike TB2, which is like a carbon copy of TB1 from a parallel universe). The sound quality is great, too, very clear. On the whole, a pleasurable listening experience.

On the downside, the music quality is mixed, and not all the melodies are that hot. I have listened to this album now about 10 times, and while my first reaction was very positive, over time the variability in quality has become clearer. So, this is not on par with the original Ommadawn, which for me has maintained its very high level of musicality. Part 1 (side 1) is the better one here. It actually begins with a theme and sound that could have come from Hergest Ridge, then moves into a acoustic guitar pattern that harkens back to, but does not mimic, the original Ommadawn theme. One of the better themes on the album is the one that starts with a repeated bass/electric guitar line of classic Oldfied at just before the 3 min mark (again, more akin to Hergest Ridge than Ommadawn), and taking us to just after 8 mins. After a few other themes, around the 13 min mark, a new theme beginning with African Drums (ala the original Ommadawn), some acoustic and electric solos, starts and takes us to just before 19 mins. This theme has background choir-vocals that are very similar to the original Ommadawn (indeed, they sound like the original Ommadawn theme sung backwards), and this section ends with a similar electric-guitar solo pattern to the end of side 1 on the original Ommadawn. This is the only part of 'Return to Ommadawn' that comes sufficiently close to the original that one could use the term "sequel". After that section, Side 1 ends with a very nice, quiet, flute/acoustic guitar theme. I would give Part/Side 1 8.1 out of 10.

Side 2 is the weaker half of this release. Many of themes sound like more mainstream celtic melodies, with pretty standard chord progressions. The theme that begins at roughly the 2 minute mark sounds like another Oldfield theme, but not anything on the original Ommadawn. I like the section that begins at roughly the 5 min mark, with the Irish/African drumming, the pulsing bass line and the electric guitar solos, lasting about two minutes. The themes that comes after repeat the ones that began this side, and stretch them out for much of the rest of the side (with a short acoustic interlude at around the 15-min mark). The album ends with a theme that is musically much more like the Sailors Hornpipe ending on the original Tubular Bells than the On Horseback section of the original Ommadawn. However, Oldfield briefly repeats the "Hey and away we go" children's-choir vocals from the original Ommadawn/On Horseback ending here, perhaps to make clear to the listener that this part is meant to remind one of that section. Also, at the beginning of this final section, we hear Oldfield say "on horseback? I would rather be HERE", apparently referring to his current abode on the Bahamas (the fold-out photos are of his backyard where he lives there). I personally wish he hadn't including this brief voice-over, as it seems to dismiss or at least put into doubt the original 'On Horseback' section from the original Ommadawn, and does so in an elitist way (how many of us can afford to live in the Bahamas?). But apart from that, the ending is actually not that musical, and the whole side has a few too many standard (major-key) chord progressions, making it more like 'Voyager' or his other albums from the 1990s/2000s. I give Side/Part 2 a score of 7.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

Taken together, this is among the better Oldfield albums of the last 30 years. Just how does it compare with the rest of Oldfield's catalogue? Is it the best album since the original Ommadawn? Well, I went back and listened to his back catalogue to try and place this one. I think it is slightly better than 'Music of the Spheres' (which was his best album, in my opinion, since Amarok). It is better than 'Guitars', although it shares a lot of features with that album (but on 'Return' everything segues together, which 'Guitars' was missing/needing). It is better than 'Songs of Distant Earth', even though it is almost as new-agey. It is far better than any of the Tubular Bells sequels. It is better than 'Discovery', even better than 'Crisis'. I don't think it is better than 'Amarok', but it is close (Amarok, interestingly, is also a sequel of sorts to the original Ommadawn, although it is quite a bit more different from Ommadawn than 'Return'). However, it is definitely NOT better than 'Five Miles Out', nor 'QEII', both of which had more original and more compelling musical statements, even though both of those albums are among those over-laden with instrumentation. (And of course, it is not better than any of Oldfield's first four albums). I would place this somewhere around Oldfield's 8th or 9th best album (out of roughly 27 albums). On balance, I give this 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1718314)
Posted Saturday, May 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, this album is an unexpected and wholly welcome treat.

MIKE OLDFIELD has been prog rock's premier melody maker for getting on towards half a century, ever since 1973's Tubular Bells. His combination of long-form, folk and new-age inspired work captured the hearts of a generation. With the advent of disco and punk, however, he put the long- form works aside and made poppier albums for the next twenty years (with a few glorious exceptions). Then, after the millennium, he began to fade away.

Until this. Like the title says, it's a return to his 1975 masterpeice, Ommadawn, IMO the best of his catalogue and, quote simply, the best single prog rock piece ever written. So I might have had a few expectations when I (belatedly) found out this had been released.

The album is good. Remarkable, even. It is certainly structurally similar to Ommadawn, with Part One beginning with an extended acoustic introduction based on a simple celtic tune, followed by a rhythm-based crescendo into a typical Oldfieldian guitar-laden climax. Part Two is a little more pastoral, but no less beautiful, if in places almost cloying in its sweetness. I'm fairly certain the vocals from the original Ommadawn have been sampled and re-used, and certainly the children's vocals from 'On Horseback' make a brief appearance. As with Ommadawn, OLDFIELD plays virtually all the instruments with breathtaking virtuosity.

At this point my personal joy at this wonderful gift has to take second place to the pragmatics of a review. This is a wonderful thing, but it isn't essential, not to progressive rock music and not even to Oldfield's canon. It's a return, after all; a going-back, a regression. So, as beautiful as it is, I'd counsel those new to OLDFIELD to sample something from his first four albums, or perhaps Amarok. This can be an additional purchase if you like what you hear. But, for me, this is up with THE ORB's latest as the record of 2017.

Report this review (#1730202)
Posted Sunday, June 4, 2017 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though full of new music, as opposed to some of the re-hashing send-ups Oldfield has released over the years, this one is a beautiful little reminder of just how awesome those mid-1970s albums of Mike Oldfield's were.

1. Return To Ommadawn (Pt.1) (21:10) many old themes, riffs, and weaves rendered anew and with great recording clarity. (9/10) 2. Return To Ommadawn (Pt.2) (20:57) a couple nice melodic riffs overextended and underdeveloped. (8.5/10)

Total Time 42:07

Line-up: Mike Oldfield - acoustic, classical, 12-string & electric guitars, acoustic & electric basses, mandolin, harp, bouzouki, banjo, grand piano, spinet, Farfisa organ, ARP 2600 & Solina synths, bodhran, glockenspiel, accordion (6), assorted percussions (marimba, gong, tubular bells)

A solid 4 star album; a very good progressive rock album--a nice, fresh take on the Ommadawn style and themes with very clear recording and solid performances.

Report this review (#1734972)
Posted Saturday, June 17, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Return to Ommadawn is truly a magnificent return for Mike Oldfield. I hesitate to call it a return to form, per-say, as he has repeatedly demonstrated over the course of his career that his focus is on more than just progressive rock, but it really is a great album harkening back to his work from the 70s.

As for the actual music itself, it's incredible! I might even like this album more than the original Ommadawn album. All the interplay between the instruments is just magnificent. Return to Ommadawn has musical flow of such a caliber that very few albums are capable of reaching. It really is an incredible journey from start to finish. It's hard to explain the album, as it speaks so well for itself; all I can really say is go listen to it! 5 stars, without a doubt.

Report this review (#1946327)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wish Mike Oldfield hadn't called this album, Return to Ommadawn, as it has you comparing the two albums. Ommadawn has masterful pastoral melodies/riffs and beautiful floating choruses that drift down over the top of the instruments. This album could have been composed around the same time as Ommadawn as it has that sound quality of the 70's period. However, it works in a different fashion. There are more guitars, particularly Spanish acoustic guitar, 12- string and electric guitars, mandolins and electric bass. Instead of the choruses of Ommadawn there is fleeting Mellotron and children's voices. It works beautifully sonically with an almost perfect blend of instruments and Mike Oldfield's guitar playing is sublime.

In some ways I prefer this recording to Ommadawn. However, it doesn't have the same memorable riffs as Ommadawn that stick in your mind. Maybe that's a good thing. I don't know. Ommadawn is the sort of album you could play on your death bed as you drift in and out of sleep as you expire. Return to Ommadawn is the kind of album that keeps you awake as you concentrate on the sheer sonic beauty of the album. Mike Oldfield is one of the greatest guitarists of his generation and in Return to Ommadawn he puts together a guitarist's gourmet of delights. I don't know why he isn't more often compared to the other great progressive guitarists of his generation such as Steve Hackett and Steve Howe.

Report this review (#2420217)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2020 | Review Permalink

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