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Mike Oldfield - Incantations CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

3.93 | 458 ratings

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3 stars I always thought Incantations could have been Oldfield's best album if he hadn't been confined to the double LP format. Just imagine the best of this album condensed into 60 minutes. Pure bliss.

The album is somewhat different from the preceding albums. It has a stronger classical feel due to the use of a small orchestra and the minimalist nature of the compositions. The short repeated and evolving phrases are somewhat similar to Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Also the more dominating presence of the choir adds to that classical feel.

But this is not an "Oldfield goes classic" album. The Celtic feel is still as strong as ever, and there are still plenty of guitars, flutes, percussion and great synth arrangements. Especially Oldfield's keyboard work moves me here. He achieved a very tasty and ageless sonic palette like only Richard Wright managed before him. In rock music at least, the progressive electronic artists played in another league.

Parts I and II are just perfect, they are the most fluently flowing Oldfield pieces, boasting very rich harmonies and a couple of beautiful symphonic folk songs. Parts III and IV is where the album loses its momentum. There are still good sections in part III, such as its guitar solo in the beginning, but the attempt at a more rocking sound and upbeat pace breaks the tension that was built so far. It sound awkwardly dated compared to the timeless beauty of the preceding music.

Part IV is a lot better again but doesn't always sparkle with inspiration neither. Basically it's a reiteration of themes introduced in the preceding parts. It's no flat repetition as Oldfield uses other instruments and arrangements, but none of them sounds very successful. The finale is great though.

While Incantations had the potential to be as good as Hergest Ridge and Ommadown, it subsides under the weight of its ambition. With parts III and IV merged into one 20 minute piece it would certainly have been a firm 4 star, but 3.5 will have to do.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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