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Mike Oldfield - Amarok CD (album) cover

AMAROK

Mike Oldfield

 

Crossover Prog

4.07 | 416 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TheCaptain
5 stars Oh Mike Oldfield you reclusive genius. You first did the impossible by becoming a huge hit with an album consisting of two 25 minute instrumentals, then you made the truly inspired "Ommadawn," began a descent into the musical abyss along with the rest of the prog world during the horrible 80s and finally bottomed out with "Earth Moving." Lucky for us you had had enough and made an album both for yourself and to spite Richard Branson. "Amarok" is a 60 minute fantastic instrumental journey pushing the boundaries of music, revisiting and re-working musical styles Oldfield has mastered in previous albums, combining a huge variety of different music ranging from flamenco to African to Celtic, and touching on just about every emotion you can think of. It manages to stay new and exciting for the entire hour with 45 movements, eight different themes and countless variations on those, and what seems like a never-ending introduction of new instruments. I usually have this song broken into two separate parts in my mind when listening to it. The first part is the first 39 minutes of the song which is flawless in every sense of the word. The second is a 21 minute climax that has 10 seconds total of one layer of music that I find slightly irritating (a man shouting) which detracts from the building mood and it also doesn't sound good. Despite that minor flaw, the final 21 minutes are superb and far surpass the already fantastic first part. Thirty-nine minutes into the song, a relaxing acoustic guitar part begins which lulls you into a false sense of security. The music picks up again, and keeps getting so close to what seems like the point of no return of the climax only to once again calm down. "Amarok" does this a few times and you know that climax is just around the corner. However what you were expecting never comes. The music completely shifts completely with the happy movement "Boat Reprise" in which everything gives way to a chorus of strings. Other instruments join the party with a slow crescendo. The climax of the third theme leads seamlessly and instantly into the climax (which probably contains a perfectly positioned half-second break) of the first theme. When listened to with the buildup, those 40 seconds are, in my mind, the greatest 40 seconds of music ever written. And there ends my slightly overdone love affair with a section of the song and your minds can get out of the gutter to which they undoubtedly traveled in the past few sentences. Anyway, next comes a great 5 minute African section which leads to the movement entitled "Climax I." Next up is another 5 minute Africany build-up, which incorporates more of other music styles than the previous African section, and eventually ends in "Climax II." The final 5 minutes is yet another African section with a Margaret Thatcher impression talking for around a minute total about how about how no one likes ends so she decides to pick the song up again. And at last the big finale which doesn't disappoint. Wow. So this has easily been my favorite album since I discovered it a few months ago and I've listened to it in its entirety at least 25 times. Fear not if it doesn't instantly 'click.' Just have some patience and give "Amarok" at least a few tries to win you over. This is 100%, without a doubt, prog. It is also equally sure a masterpiece. As such I have no choice but to award "Amarok" not only a 5 star rating but also this loving review. The rest of the music world can only now shoot for second best as there is no chance of topping this giant.
TheCaptain | 5/5 |

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