It’s been almost three years since Mike Oldfield released his previous album, Man on the Rocks. Even though it’s an enjoyable album, it’s not even close to the four initial gems of progressive rock that Mike Oldfield released at the beginning of his career, or other milestones such as Tubular Bells II or Amarok. It doesn’t try to be part of that genre.
Return to Ommadawn, released on January 20th, was regarded since the beginning as a return to the classic progressive rock period. This generated a lot of discussions among Mike Oldfield community. Mike himself was interviewed before the release to talk about the album and created some hype. Has it met the expectations?
Mike Oldfield likes to develop and expand some patterns in his music throughout an album. He has said that before. In Return to Ommadawn we definitely see some melodies repeating and some inspirations from the first Ommadawn (after all, this is a return). At some point we can hear a chorus similar in spirit to the one we listened to in the first Ommadawn, though the background percussion is stronger. I was a little disappointed to learn that this chorus was digitally inserted in the music using a backwards audio of the original one. The reason is that when it comes to Mike’s music, I prefer it to be non-digital. It doesn’t sound out of place, though. The final solo also feels like it’s seeking its predecessor in Ommmadawn (also with percussion at the end). I really have to single out this final solo, because I think is amazing. Is really refreshing to hear a solo like this from Mike Oldfield these days.
I read an early description of the album by Mike Oldfield in his Facebook group, and he said he was trying to convey a sense of epicness. I honestly think he succeeded it in this second track. When I first saw the cover, it looked almost like a Hammerfall-like cover. Well, the music kind of follows this spirit. I can’t help to see similarities to other albums of Mike Oldfield. Did anyone sense a little of Music of the Spheres in Part II? The guitar tune starting in minute 2 reminds me a little of Guitars album too. The heavy guitar part that starts at minute 6 and goes for almost two minutes is incredible. And the climax. The ending of this track is full of energy and nice guitars.
Honestly, if I had to choose, I think I prefer Part II over Part I. There’s some parts where one can truly feel the old Oldfield. I think this is not a cashgrab sequel of a successful album, but a legitimate and amazing album on its own. In conclusion, my overall rating of this piece of music is that we have experienced the old Oldfield again in the way of a beautiful piece of music. I think it has definitely met the expectations.
This is not the end, anyway. Mike Oldfield has stated during the promo interviews of this album that he’s toying with the idea of creating Tubular Bells 4.