Reverence to Oldfield with a few irresistible new tricks.
The third journey into Robert Reed’s world of high-class homages to Mike Oldfield is laced with lovely passages. To those who deem him merely an Oldfield copyist, Reed’s retorted that the master is pleased someone’s picked up the baton in the medium of long-form music, and the previous Sanctuary albums showed a blend of respectful replication and diverting proficiency. The presence of Tubular Bells producers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth, and drummer Simon Phillips, adds credibility and consummate sound quality here. Reed says he’s moved on from the first two albums, but the Oldfield trademarks are still here, especially in the way phases close and new ones begin, and in that warmly strident guitar tone. There are lots of female and choral vocals, which nudge it into 70s
Rick Wakeman territory, and perhaps too much Gaelic fiddle-di-dee. Overall, though, in atmosphere, Ommadawn is the key influence. There’s something endearing about the devotional immersion into the art of a hero, and while this feels faintly less convincing than the start of the whole trip, its invitations to forsake logic and lose yourself in its meanderings are often irresistible.