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Mike Oldfield - Amarok CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 538 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Back in the 1970s, the sounds of TUBULAR BELLS streamed through hundreds of thousands of incense-soaked boys' rooms. Other Mike Oldfield albums, most notably OMMADAWN, gave the impression that their creator was a man who would always keep astonishing the world, almost single-handedly, with kaleidoscopic rock symphonies.

But at the end of the seventies Oldfield's career took a strange turn. Although he still released a few "symphonic" albums (such as INCANTATIONS) they were just a pale reflection of his earlier work. He also started recording material in questionable taste (Abba-covers, Euro-disco) as well as catchy folk-rock tunes, with which he had a few minor hits. It seemed he could no longer be taken seriously as an artist - an impression that was confirmed by endless re-workings of TUBULAR BELLS, and by the bloated excess of the box set ELEMENTS, in which the first two discs (with early material) were much more striking than the remainder (full of more recent stuff).

Until about a year ago, I had completely given up on the idea I would ever hear anything interesting from Mike again, but positive reviews on Progarchives encouraged me to give AMAROK a try. After several spins I'm happy to confirm I'm thoroughly enjoying this album! It may not be Oldfield at his very best (the original TUBULAR BELLS still sounds more mysterious; side one of OMMADAWN leads up to a more exuberant climax) but it's definitely inspired from start to finish, and full of delightful tunes. The music takes so many unexpected twists and turns you'll find yourself gasping at the audacity of it all! There are lots of mischievous echoes from the man's earlier work and, in good old M.O. tradition, there's a truly zany finale. Warmly recommended to everyone who enjoys instrumental prog with folk-music leanings.

The only thing I don't understand is why the brilliant African drummers who appear on this album had to remain uncredited.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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