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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 13:21

The biggest mistake on the album is that it is caled a return to something that just does not compare. Ommadawn is one of my most favourite albums because its multilayered goodness of plenty of melodies, variations and harmonies with grand finale   and nice little song at the end.
Nothing like that happening in Return to Ommadawn.
The recording is extremly thin on ideas. The melodies much simpler, constantly repeating with little variation and instead of bringing excitement boredom comes to my mind instead.
It has too many production issues. Instruments out of place, guitars not sounding right with the rest. It is just not right.
The core melodies are nice and even memorable, but there are too few. The guitar play is too simple.
My first impression was that it was done by an MO fan, who wanted to pay a tribute to the artist.

The re-use of old samples does not help and even damages the album at times. If the "On Horse Back 2" did not include the voice samples it would be for the better. It also reminds me in places something he would do with Pekka Pohjola. Not exactly a bad thing, but it has nothing to do with On Horse Back.

I do not understand this album at all.

That being said I am still listening and te melodies grow on me, but there are too many issues with this album, that break the immersion.

Am I alone in this or are there more people who have similar problems with it?

There are lots of people who praise it greatly and I am happy they like it for that's what art is here for. To find own audience.

Perhaps if Mike did not call it Return to Ommadawn and tried to flesh out the production a little bit more...
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Dorian36 Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 13:42

Quote
Am I alone in this or are there more people who have similar problems with it?

Nope, you pretty much summarized everything that bothers me, too :/
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aoeu Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 14:14

I was interested to read your opinion because every other one I've read has been positive. I can't agree with you but I'm sorry to hear you didn't like it.

It was bold of Mike to call it Return to Ommadawn, I can't think of a name that would open it up to more potential criticism than that if it was anything less than perfect.

Personally I feel that less is more here, and with its relative simplicity the ideas are given room to breathe. You can read my (positive) review on here if you wish - I will say though when I was comparing it directly with the original on first listen (because that was the point of reference I had) I did have some problems with it initially; I admit there was a point towards the end of part one and beginning of part two where I was thinking 'OK, so when is this thing going to finally get going?' I was only able to truly appreciate it once I was free from any idea that this was going to be some kind of replication of the original Ommadawn experience, and see it as more of an addition that wasn't trying to be Ommadawn but add to it (yet it can still be something in its own right) and I tried to get that across in my review. I didn't have any problem on subsequent listens.

Maybe it'll grow on you, hopefully it will.
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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 14:34

Thank you for your opinion Aoeu. Yes it indeed does grow on me.
And I cannot say I dislike that much as it may sound. However I am still wondering why on first listen instead of hearing what I would expect from Mike I heard something that did not really get where it could. And there were too many moments where a question "Why?" popped in my head.

Never before I questioned Mike's the musical choices on his album. But now I was just like, why is the background not supporting the moment so well, why does the guitar not develop the solo a bit more. Why did he end the album the way he did.

Imagination is missing here, experimentation, playfulness...

And technically it does not sound very good either.
Too much treble is cutting into my ears the midrange is often omitted.
Ommadawn was very warm album, very very warm. This is exact oposite, but extreme even.
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diamond den Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 15:36

Quote (Black Bunik @ Jan. 20 2017, 14:34)
Thank you for your opinion Aoeu. Yes it indeed does grow on me.
And I cannot say I dislike that much as it may sound. However I am still wondering why on first listen instead of hearing what I would expect from Mike I heard something that did not really get where it could. And there were too many moments where a question "Why?" popped in my head.

Never before I questioned Mike's the musical choices on his album. But now I was just like, why is the background not supporting the moment so well, why does the guitar not develop the solo a bit more. Why did he end the album the way he did.

Imagination is missing here, experimentation, playfulness...

And technically it does not sound very good either.
Too much treble is cutting into my ears the midrange is often omitted.
Ommadawn was very warm album, very very warm. This is exact oposite, but extreme even.

I have been listening to Mike's music now for about the past 6 or 7 years. I rushed out this morning to buy Return to Ommadawn. I got back home and fired up my iBook G4 put on my headphones and listened to it. After the first listen to it I was less than impressed but after listening to it a couple of times......

I gotta say I am very impressed with Return to Ommadawn. It is a Masterpiece like Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Amarok.

As for it the actual tone of the instruments not being "warm"......no one uses analogue gear for recording anymore. It is too much of a pain in the arse to use. Splicing tape is something no musician wants to do anymore. Not even The Record Plant in New York uses analogue gear for recording now.

Sure analogue gear sounds warmer but it is too unreliable. No guitarists bring their PCM70's and TC2290's on the road with them anymore as they simply can't handle the punishment of touring for instance.
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backwoodsman Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 16:01

Black Bunik, I had exactly the same feelings when I listened to the album for the first time. I found the same problems with the album initially, but after listening to it many times I have begun to like it more and more, and that is what usually happens to me with Mike's albums.

The thing that initially bothered me the most on part one was the African drum section. On the original Ommadawn, the African drum part was a very powerful climax, but on RTO it felt underwhelming and weak in comparison. Sonically, the new album is closer to Mike's early albums, but musically I feel it's closer to Tubular Bells 2. That is to say, the harmonies and chord progressions are rather predictable. I think Mike's early albums are so timeless precisely because they are not so predictable. Also, on the original Ommadawn all the different parts and melodies are tied together seamlessly, but on RTO some of the transitions between different sections are not so well thought out. I think Mike said that he didn't want the album to be too polished and he deliberately left some little mistakes etc. to make it feel more natural. But if he had spent a bit more time polishing it and working on the arrangements, and perhaps brought in some guest musicians, I believe the album could have been even better.

I think Mike set the bar incredibly high by calling it "Return to Ommadawn", and the expectations were pretty high. Anyway, Mike was able to deliver a good album and I certainly don't want to complain too much because I really like the album. In my opinion, this is the best album Mike has done since Songs of Distant Earth. There are some very beautiful moments and I like it more on every listen. In the end, I can't say that I'm disappointed with RTO. I would probably give it (at least) 4 stars out of 5.
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TubularRidgeDawn Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 17:14

Being a fan of Mikes' s since the early 1980s, I did not think this would be 'Ommadawn II', but also believed it would be something quite special, which it is as a stand alone album compared to the original 'Ommadawn'. Yes, it tips its hat towards 'Ommadawn' in places, and also very slightly to 'Amarok', but has more of a Celtic vibe, more like his 'Voyager', which is not a bad thing at all. Like others have referenced here, it sometimes takes a few listens to trully appreciate or understand some of Mike's work, but my first listen through in 5.1 surround sound I enjoyed very much around seventy per cent of it. There is magic and mystery in his use of his instrumentation and composition, but there is also excitement and energy. I think it was fantatsic of Mike to listen and gather feedback from his fan base, and go back to his original way of crafting music in two parts and using in the main acoustic instrumentation. Although not mid-1970s 'Ommadawn', and hey, that album is and will always be one of a kind, "Return To Ommadawn," is beautiful, evocative, and imaginitive. It certainly takes me away to a new realm for a while, which is what his early works did and still does!

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En yab na log a toc na awd
taw may on ommadawn egg kyowl
ommadawn egg kyowl
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Satyagraha Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 17:19

My heart jumped when I just an hour ago ago read that Mike Oldfield has finally given us another old school Oldfield album.

But after one and a half listen, I have to agree with the threadstarter, sadly. While this is to some degree listenable (unlike pretty much every record since Amarok, in my opinion), it is really rather poor compared to 70s Oldfield (and 80s Oldfield, for that matter).

No surprises, very little in the way of ideas, no real passion, no originality.  

But I guess it another masterpiece was just too much to hope for, 39 years after Incantations, which will forever remain my absolutely favourite Oldfield album.

Still, it warms my heart that Oldfield at least tried his best one more time to make what his old fans have hoped for all these years. And it is nice to hear something close to his 70s and 80s electrical guitar sound in places.


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Byrði betri berrat maðr brautu at en sé mannvit mikit
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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 17:47

I had a little vission here while listening to it.
A live performance.
The drums at 12:53 played by a group of powerful drummers. (Yamato would do :p)
13:08 a small choir starts singing (instead of a sample)
Then it goes like on the album
16:00 drums intensify
16:10 several accoustic guitars start
17:12 guitars change to faster strumming (instead of keeping the same tempo like on the album) and Mike engages in solo worth legends of live in Montreaux.
Everything intensifying to the last moment.

That would be epic. :D
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seventeen64 Offline




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Posted: Jan. 20 2017, 18:45

I am usually the first person to leap to the defence, give it some time, each to his own, that kind of thing.

I've given it a couple of listens and I hope that I grow to like it more. I also hope that Mr. Oldfield himself doesn't come and be offended by what are choices in direction, rather than an obvious lack of competency.

I think the problem is that, as true fans, we are so attached to the original incarnation of things that it is difficult for us to have significant distance from that original to allow a new slant on the old. That's not something Mr. Oldfield himself would necessarily share; it seems like this is - with using those similar instruments - a different journey within the same world of Ommadawn. If Ommadawn was the "Dramatic Summer Storm" with that climax, then maybe this is the same setting in a quiet, chilly winter.

That said, where I do have to agree is that by clutching to nostalgia by intentionally UNDERproducing - not quite worrying where instruments are timed etc - it does feel slightly unfinished, even if I try my best to allow for everything I've just said. That's a real shame. For me, Tubular Bells II is Mr. Oldfields' greatest album - I'm not looking to be surprised with the melody I want something that sounds great, well produced, and leads me on a pleasant journey.

Ommadawn does that with real intensity and youthful exuberancce, even anger in places. But the greatest thing about the original piece is how dynamic it is - musically and emotionally. That journey is what really gave it the "wow" factor, and I don't find much of a journey with Return to Ommadawn. And as I say - I do think that is the point. It's a different monster - but because of that, I can't give it the same expectations.


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life is not one-dimensional
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Markus K. Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 08:20

I noticed some unexpected timing in places where e.g. the acoustic guitar doesn't seem to follow that well with what's played in the other layers. I assumed it's intentional.

Other than that (and it's not really bothering me) I'm very happy with it. The part 1 climax isn't as strong as in Ommadawn. That's fine. This album still has a little bit of the darkness and melancholia, but the overall sound is more on the happier side. Happy is good.

And the "I'd rather be here" and "Hey and away we go" were fun touches in my opinion and not too silly.

In some sense the repetition and variation of the main themes is a nice thing. There's always Amarok if I want a chaos of unfinished ideas. (I like it too.) RTO is more "classical music" with the repetition and variation.

So I like it now after a few listens and of course I might like it less later. Who knows.


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Markus K.
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Thea Cochrane Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 13:03

Quote (diamond den @ Jan. 20 2017, 20:36)
[quote=Black Bunik,Jan. 20 2017, 14:34]No guitarists bring their PCM70's and TC2290's on the road with them anymore as they simply can't handle the punishment of touring for instance.

Those are both digital FX units.
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Cavalier (Lost Version) Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 17:24

Well that's the first eight minutes of pt. 1 on the stereo DVD, and with all I've got on at the moment that's enough for now.  Whether this becomes an instant classic, a missed opportunity, or anything in between is a set of reflections for another day.  I don't yet know what the destination is yet, but if we do get back to Ommadawn we will have been riding on Voyager by way of Tr3s Lunas...

One of the reasons that I adore TB II is the way it follows and copies/inverts its predecessors' structure - and takes its ruddy time about it! :) I've always been struck by the fact that Sentinel alone lasts longer than it takes for Ommadawn to get to what I consider to be its structural halfway point - the end of the recorder jaunt.  Having gone past that precise time point on the new composition, it's clearly a different beast to Ommadawn.  Whether that's elk or turtle remains to be seen! :p


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"Who was that?"
"That was Venger - the force of Evil!  I am Dungeon Master - your guide in the realm of Dungeons & Dragons!"
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First_Excursion Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 19:12

Quote (Black Bunik @ Jan. 20 2017, 13:21)
Am I alone in this or are there more people who have similar problems with it?


After a while it started putting me to sleep but then that gratingly over compressed TBII guitar sound reared it's pretentious head and I felt the urge to destroy all the glassware and crockery with my favourite axe.
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Chrissy Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 19:26

Well I've listened to it over 10 times. I love it.

I think it's a brilliant piece of music. So many great melodies, uplifting, entertaining, and lots of subtle references to his past albums.

As good as any of his first 4 classic albums.
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Scatterplot Offline




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Posted: Jan. 22 2017, 01:12

When Mike first started posting on Facebook about plans for this album, I pretty much knew what to expect. An album with a digital, made-on-a-computer feel to it but emphasis on no programming of sequencers etc. Hopefully re-using some bits from the original album or at least trying to re-capture the feel of it. Probably going to sound like a cross between "Guitars" and "Amarok". I've listened to it one time so far and came away thinking "I was right", but with a little more of a "Voyager" feel. This is pretty much "Random Oldfield". Much like random horn in a jazz recording but bits of what definitely sound like distinctive Oldfield music randomly placed end to end for 43 minutes. It's nice. I like it. I would say it's his best effort since TB3 or Guitars. I'll be revisiting this album a lot. Certainly more than MOTR. A very good arty album(I hate the term "chill out music"). 7/10 for the music and 9/10 for the recording.  Mike was a melancholy and somewhat distressed young guy when he made those classic first 3 albums long ago.  That gave his music incredible feeling, originality and in some places: bleak. I love bleak music. Mike is not a bleak sort of person anymore and has pretty much achieved everything most musicians could ever dream of. There is not much left for him to do.........But I still have to say good job, I like it. Jim

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We raise our voices in the night
Crying to heaven
And will our voices be heard
Or will they break Like the wind
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Yann Offline




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Posted: Jan. 22 2017, 01:19

Same here. Working in a project during the weekend, and I keep playing the album in the background. The more I listen to it, the more I like it.

Last time that happened was with the Amarok. Even the praised MoS went to the drawer after two listenings.
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TubularRidgeDawn Offline




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Posted: Jan. 22 2017, 06:26

Mike has always had a Celtic thing going with his music, and it is very much in evidence here, and it beautifully done. 'Ommadawn' is very much a folky album with rock elements fused into it. The Celtic theme is very clear in 'Ommadawn', yet 'Return To Ommadawn' is a different album in comparison.

When I first heard Mike was returing to 'Ommadawn' I had no preconceived ideas or expectation of what it would be like. I knew it would not be 'Ommadawn', and so it turns out to be which is not a bad thing. 'Return to Ommadawn' has many beautiful moments taking us back to 'Hergest Ridge', bowing to 'Ommadawn' and 'Amarok, on the way, with a wave to 'Tubular Bells' Part Two, but mainly keeping us with 'Voyager'.

In essence, it is Mike, with deightful flamenco guitar, cascading mandolins and jaunty banjo playing. You could say Mike has returned to his 'Celtic' roots here, which is very strong on Part Two of this album, and I am enjoying the journey with him.

If you leave behind any comparison to 'Ommadawn', which will always be in my mind one of his very finest works, and listen with a clean slate, there is such depth to 'Return To Ommadawn'. The mystical mood it conveys is trully beautiful. Mike has alway had a gift to paint pictures with his music and to convey and evoke emotion in the listener, and for me this album does all of this.


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En yab na log a toc na awd
taw may on ommadawn egg kyowl
ommadawn egg kyowl
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Beaconman Offline




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Posted: Jan. 22 2017, 07:35

Couldn't have said it better myself
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stpaul Offline




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Posted: Jan. 22 2017, 08:34

Quote (TubularRidgeDawn @ Jan. 22 2017, 06:26)
If you leave behind any comparison to 'Ommadawn', which will always be in my mind one of his very finest works, and listen with a clean slate, there is such depth to 'Return To Ommadawn'. The mystical mood it conveys is trully beautiful. Mike has alway had a gift to paint pictures with his music and to convey and evoke emotion in the listener, and for me this album does all of this.

That's it. RTO is a really beautiful work with less anger as you can listen to in the 1975 prototype.
The advantages of RTO in my opinion are the very clever and much more homogenous compositorial skills. Part 1 and particularly part 2 (in contrast to 1975) form a real unit.
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