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Mike Oldfield - Amarok CD (album) cover


Mike Oldfield


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 539 ratings

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Thyme Traveler
5 stars Happy ? Happy ! Depending on my mood, this is sometimes my favorite album of all time. Having said that, this album isn't for everybody, or for most people for that matter. This is Mike Oldfield at his most complex, most inaccessible, and dare I say... maddest. This album is exactly 60 minutes long(it's not 60:04 as listed on the top of the review page) and you should be prepared to invest several hours of listening to appreciate it. You WILL hate it the first time, maybe even a couple times after that. Once you get it, you will be rewarded with a tremendous listening experience. That is, if you do eventually get it. Even some long time Oldfield fans never do.

The album has only one track, but the album is divided by MO into many sections depending on the many themes which he used throughout the piece. I always found it convenient to divide the CD into threes- with each trimester being approximately 20 minutes long and each starting with approximately the same guitar part. You could, I suppose, divide the album in half (having been released in 1990, I think it was issued on cassette as well as CD- the dividing mark for the CD probably coming at the spoken part around the 26:00 minute mark). I was actually surprised to find that there is very little synthesizer in this album. These are real world sounds he used.

The Good: Mike Oldfield considered calling this Ommadawn 2 and the similiarities are striking. Many of the same themes, the Celtic influence, the world music parts, the haunting female vocals. As always, the guitar playing is incredible. Mike Oldfield never gets the credit he deserves as a guitarist. As I said above, you could divide Amarok into thirds, and in my opinion, the middle part of the album has some of the most beautiful music I've heard in my life.

The Bad: The last third of the album is stretched out like many Oldfield long pieces seem to be. I don't know if he determined before hand that he would make an hour long record and found he didn't have enough so just added filler in the last section, but as much as I hold this album in high esteem, it would be better as a 50 minute album, trimming some of the fat at the end.

The Ugly: As I said this is one of my favorites, but I realize it isn't one that many people can appreciate it, especially the first time around. Be prepared for very dissonant parts, very loud "Orchestra hits" and the "Happy" voice at unexpected moments. Don't worry, if you finally do learn to love Amarok, you will get used to it. The Maggie Thatcher impersonator at the end could also be something you would find annoying and does seem rather dated.

Overall a great addition to your collection. I debated whether to give it 4 or 5 stars given the rating system. It probably isn't "essential." BUT it is definiitely a masterpiece of progressive music.

Thyme Traveler | 5/5 |


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