fri 21/09/2018

CD: Mike Oldfield - Return to Ommadawn | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mike Oldfield - Return to Ommadawn

CD: Mike Oldfield - Return to Ommadawn

Uplifting retro-reboot revisits landmark 1975 album

Return to Ommadawn: Mike Oldfield progresses back to 1975

New releases by Mike Oldfield don’t exactly grow on trees, but nor can they be deemed rarities. For the first three decades he brought out roughly half a dozen a decade. But Return to Ommadawn is only his second since 2008. As the title announces, it tours the landscape of his third album Ommadawn, which he recorded in his own studio at Hergest Ridge in 1975 and played pretty much everything that didn’t require breath (wind instruments and vocals).

It’s roughly the same story here except that Oldfield blows on his own penny whistles, which feature prominently in the mock-Celtic musical landscape he conjures up with mandolin and ambient chanting. But this is Oldfield paying a redemptive visit to his prog past, so there’s plenty of noodly bass, thoughtful guitar riffing and simple piano licks. In homage to 1970s vinyl, there are two title tracks, parts one and two, each of 21 minutes, which go about the business of building and layering in a style that is integral to Oldfield’s DNA. It’s like catching a time machine back to 1975, when War of the Worlds was but a twinkle in Jeff Wayne’s eye and Mark Knopfler was still plucking in pubs, and Tubular Bells had given Oldfield the freedom to make the music he wanted.

There’s nothing as immediately grabby or winningly pretentious as Oldfield’s indelible debut. But the quasi-symphonic Return to Ommadawn grows on you, and by the third listen it has worked its way in whether you like it or not. I do like it, with its thudding drums, Hispanic nods and shanty stylings. And Oldfield has not lost his ear for innocent, intricate, cheerful melody. Anyone of the relevant vintage whose system was colonically irrigated by the advent of punk should probably steer clear. For anyone else, this is an uplifting retro-reboot.

@JasperRees

By the third listen 'Return to Ommadawn' has worked its way whether you like it or not

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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