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Mike Oldfield - Amarok CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 539 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars By this stage in his career Mike OLDFIELD was struggling with his musical direction. There is no doubting his talent. Ommadawn and Tubular Bells are classic symphonic progressive pieces, and he proved he could write decent pop music during the 1980s. However, after two poor records (1987's Islands and 1989's Earth Moving), this album comes as a pleasant surprise.

Amarok features one 60-minute composition, harking back to his symphonic period. OLDFIELD enlists the help of people who appreared on his 1970s work, including Clodagh Simonds, Bridget St. John and, most notably, Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. However, Amarok is not one organic, beautiful whole in the way his first four albums were. It is a more troublesome beast, sitting uncomfortably on the boundary between familiarity and experimentation. Many of his touches are awkward or just plain silly. When he returns to his symphonic roots, as he does in the last twenty minutes of this work, he is once again brilliant, though arguably bordering on self-parody. In the end, the music suffers from OLDFIELD'S thin skin, and sounds like an effort to be all things to all people. When he decided to ignore his critics and write beautiful music the results were glorious, as he proved in 1993 with Tubular Bells II and again in 1996 with Songs of Distant Earth. What a pity he didn't make this the wonderful record it so nearly was.

russellk | 4/5 |


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