Most people who hear the name Mike Oldfield think of the albums Tubular Bells and Crises. Those who have dived deeper into the music and the person Mike Oldfield are probably also familiar with the name of Ryan Yard. Ryan Yard published the book “Mike Oldfield, Every Album, Every Song (On Track)” and described the entire Mike Oldfield catalogue.
Besides the writing, Ryan Yard is also a musician. In the past he created a lot of electronic music which fits in the genre of Jean-Michel Jarre. Ryan Yard is a really adept keyboard player and I must confess he plays exceptionally well.
In 2017 Ryan Yard changed course and released the album The Nature Of Solitude (see review). This album slides from pure electronic music to symphonic progressive rock. This last term isn't invented by me but by Ryan Yard. I like this description so I'll take it over.
The Nature Of Solitude album is a cross-pollination between Jarre and Oldfield. I know it sounds a little irreverent, but this is the feeling that I get by this album and I stand behind my feeling. The album sounded fresh and wasn't an Oldfield copy at all.
Ryan Yard got positive reviews on the album and probably that inspired him to write a successor. That said, The Nature Of Solitude II is a fact.
On this album Ryan Yard plays all the instruments. He only called for a little help on some guitar parts. These are played by Carl Major.
I have really great respect for musicians who write complex tracks on their own and also perform all the tracks by themselves.
The download album contains two tracks. When you buy the CD album you get two bonus tracks which are really exclusive on the CD. A little more about that later.
The album has two regular tracks, namely The Nature Of Solitude II (part one) and The Nature Of Solitude II (part two). Both tracks have a total duration of 38 minutes. Both tracks contain carpets of synthesizer choirs, -effects, organs and modulated sounds such as flutes and harmonica. The carpet gets its real colour from the subtle guitar parts and intelligent bass lines. The total atmosphere has some similarities with Mike Oldfield. Personally I think that Mike Oldfield has the approach to center the whole album around his virtuoso guitar parts. Ryan Yard does the opposite, he centers the album around his keyboard- and effect parts.
Ryan Yard plays very melodically, and that is something that I really like a lot. The tracks are accessible and open. They have space to breath and are not a thick layer of all kinds of atmospheres.
The Song Of The Swan and The Song Of The Butterfly are bonus tracks on the album. I must confess that I have a love-hate relationship with bonus tracks. Often they don't add much to an album, in my humble opinion. Most of the time these are leftovers which didn't have the quality to appear on the record. In this case the two bonus tracks are beautiful. One more they are very melodic and have an almost cinematic atmosphere. String- and orchestral intermezzos are alternated by strong guitar parts. These two tracks definitely add something to the album.
Ryan Yard surprised me with this beautiful album. Personally I find it a pity that I hadn't heard the predecessor The Nature Of Solitude. Actually I think this would helped me to better review this album. But you can't have all. This album on its own gives me enough input to review this album. I really enjoyed this. And I will certainly come back to it. The album is perfectly produced and mixed and that is a real must for this kind of music.
That all said I rate this album with 4 out of 5. In my opinion there is room for a little more guitar parts. I think that the tracks get an extra dimension with some more melodic guitar solos. A little bit of Mike Oldfield would have done. But besides that, this is an incredible instrumental album. And when you to take into consideration that Ryan Yard did it all on his own and is therefore a multi-instrumentalist, I only can give him a deep, deep bow. Please check this album out, it deservers it.
**** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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