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Mike Oldfield - Incantations CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.93 | 478 ratings

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4 stars Incantations is often regarded as Oldfield's Tales From Topographic Oceans due it's double album length. For me, that's were the similarities end as Incantations comes off as more of a repetitive work than the album it is usually compared to. While keeping his signature pastoral Celtic vibe via flute and acoustic instruments, albeit much more sparingly employed this time around, it's Oldfield's orchestral musing that fuels this work. At least for the album's first 19 minute section.

Employing David Bedford's string section and a choir, the first part of Incantations reveals some of the most moving and uplifting music ever composed by Oldfield. The second part is more In the pastoral vein of Ommadawn which would have worked well had Oldfield not extended the piece to almost 20 minutes. Part three is probably the best as features Oldfield's distinctive guitar playing and tone mixed with stellar synth work. Where the album starts to drag noticeably is it's forth section which features some 8 minutes of repetitive vibraphone form Gong's Pierre Moerlen which is bound to put the must faithful to sleep before guest vocalist Maddy Prior reprises her near faux vocal recitation from Longworth's Song Of Hiawatha (reprised from part 2 in a slower variation) for the album's coda. Prior is magnificent at taking this mundane poem and making it into a mystical and mysterious chant. But its the double repetition of this and the never changing vibraphone theme from earlier in the albums part 4 suite that demonstrates clearly that Oldfield only had enough ideas and musical changes to fill only 3 sides of this 4 sided opus.

Does that make the album all bad? Not in my opinion. If you listen to Incantations is two sittings, (parts 1and 2 initially , and parts 3 and 4 much later on) you will find the album much easier to absorb and not suffer from listening fatigue. Still, Incantations is a 4 star album as it has few equals in it's ambition, scope and execution.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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