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Mike Oldfield - Amarok CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.02 | 653 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars There is no doubt about it: this is a very odd piece which provokes very mixed reactions and I'd say it's by far and away Mike Oldfield's least accessible album. When I first heard it I didn't like it and it only really got played because it was on side two of a cassette a friend had made for me, and my tape player had no working fast-forward or rewind. Slowly, though, parts of it started to gel for me and eventually it started to make musical sense.

As a piece it's very jarring and full of rapid changes of direction and character. This makes it quite different from most of Mike Oldfield's instrumental output which tends to rely heavily on minimalist techniques such as a slow and repetitive development of sections.

As an example of what I mean: it opens with a frantic guitar riff then suddenly explodes with aggressive stabs, but before the first minute is up it's changed down into a more gentle acoustic guitar rendition of the opening, but by two minutes it's changed again, and thirty seconds later it's broken down in into something different again. It's almost like a story where the narrator keeps changing their mind about the most important details to divulge first and you have to wait for them to calm down.

There are some beautiful sections, and some of the interplay between different lines and harmonies is up there with his finest. Once you get used to the undeniably chaotic and disturbing presentation, it's compelling stuff.

A lot of people describe it as Ommadawn 2, and while I can see where they're coming from I think this is a very different beast. There's a lot of trademark Mike Oldfield electric guitar work, a large amount of acoustic guitar, a lot of percussion instruments and chants, and then there's the occasional sound effect like a chainsaw or toothbrush. I think if you come to it expecting to be Ommadawn, you'll have the wrong expectations. I'd say it's not an album that everyone's going to love, but that it's certainly worth listening to a few times before writing it off.

I'm giving it five stars. It would certainly be one of my desert island discs, but I think more than that it's an album that's unique and so far I've not found anything else like it.

benbell | 5/5 |


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