Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Mike Oldfield

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mike Oldfield Incantations album cover
3.96 | 537 ratings | 36 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Incantations Part One (19:05)
2. Incantations Part Two (19:34)
3. Incantations Part Three (16:59 *)
4. Incantations Part Four (16:59)

Total Time: 72:37

* See note below for 1985 CD 1st release

Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Oldfield / acoustic & electric bass guitars, electric guitars, harp, piano, Farfisa organ, synthesizers (Roland SH2000, ARP 2600 & Solina), percussion (bodhrŠn, marimba, gong, vibes), electronically processed vocals, EMS sequencer, producer

- Sebastian Bell / flutes
- Terry Oldfield / flutes
- Mike Laird / trumpet
- Jabula quartet / African drums
- Pierre Moerlen / drums, vibraphone (4)
- Sally Oldfield / vocals
- Maddy Prior / vocals
- The Queens College Girls Choir / chorus vocals
- David Bedford / strings & choir conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Trevor Key with Carlos Moyse (photo)

2LP Virgin - VDT101 (1978, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDVDT 101 (1985, UK) Track 3 shortened down to 13:49 by cutting from the beginning
CD Virgin - MIKECD5 (2000, Europe) Remastered by Simon Heyworth
CD Caroline - CAR 1854 (2000, US) Remastered by Simon Heyworth

Numerous reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy MIKE OLDFIELD Incantations Music

MIKE OLDFIELD Incantations ratings distribution

(537 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MIKE OLDFIELD Incantations reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
5 stars I'm going to go out on a limb here with 5 stars.I think Incantations deserves a lot more praise than it gets.Oldfield wanted to make one last instrumental masterpeice before going for a more commercial style on later albums (at least until Amarok) and this is it.Part one is stunning and even better than the parts one or two of Ommadawn.The trumpets in paricular are sublime as they seem to answer each other.I never tire of hearing this. Part 2 leads into Oldfields take on the poem 'Hiawatha' sung in a narrative way by Maddy Prior.Haunting music.Part 3 is more flamboyant and takes us into the world of prog.The drums give this a heavy feeling which contrasts nicely with Parts 1 and 2.Part 4 is maybe the weakest part of the album but still stands up well nevertheless.Overall Mike Oldfield pulls off something special here.It's a bold statement by someone at the top of his game.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First two parts of "Incantations" are filled with repetittive sounds and rythms so at times can be boring, parts 3 and 4 are much better. Overall this seems to replicate the pattern of the masterpiece "Tubular Bells" and is obviously too extended, but nevertheless quite pleasant listening with beautiful Sally Oldfield vocals. This is more new age atmospheric music than prog.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars And so the genius prevails on Incantations. After initially listening to it I was disappointed all those years ago. How could anyone eclipse Ommadawn? Finally the sweet repetitiveness of Oldfield's work sounds more emphatic here than on Hergest Ridge. He handles all four sides with aplomb. Side one dediciated in the main to a hymn to Diana, side two all encompassing Hiawatha in all Longfellow's glory, and how real he depicts it too. Side 3 is a maizy mishmash of medley and frenzied guitar playing. Side four returns to xylophones and glockenspiels before hammering home Hiawatha's ' Endsong'.As much as anyone consider Ommadawn impossible to surpass or equal MO did it in style with this timeless classic.
Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I moved house last week and the last Cd which was available on my CD player was Incantations, so I listened to it quiet a lot while doing card box boxes. One it is a graet record to do card boxes. Two I got a little bored at the end and looked forward to something with more edge.I love Oldfield in general, I love minimal music too (Steve Reich, Phillip Glass) but there is so little variation in the melodic and rhythmic material...Well that is the whole idea of minimalisme, but IMHO this record is too long. It would have been more interesting cut down to a single record.
Review by The Crow
3 stars After the big success of his first three albums (as much comercially as artistic...), Mike Oldfield made one of his most experimental and intimist works. But it's true that it's also one of his most special and original works...

The first two pieces are made in the same repetitive and melodic way, being a little dull and boring sometimes. Some people maybe love this way of making music, but for me it's too repetitive, like the chorus at the end of the part 2, that is desperating in my opinion... Although there's still some fantastic melodies.

But the album improves very much in the parts 3 and 4, with outstanding guitar solos (the long one at the beginning of the part 3 it's simply amazing...) and with melodies very much dinamic and variated, being great the participation of Gong's Pierre Moerlen at the vibraphone...

A good work, that will be apreciated by Mike Oldfield's fans and people who want to hear something really original... But it can be a little hard to prog beginners!!!

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Tales from Hergest Ridge

Oldfield's first double album sees him offering his own "Tales from Topographic Oceans". There are four tracks, each occupying a side of an LP. Although completely different albums in terms of style and content, there are a number of parallel's with "Tales..". At over 72 minutes, this was until recently Oldfield's longest ever studio album. The inspiration for the lyrics comes from works of literature, with a bit of Latin thrown in. Probably the best known of those works is American poet Longfellow's "The song of Hiawatha". Oldfield does not use the entire poem, preferring to mix extracts with those from other works which provided the inspiration for the piece. There is a long, detailed analysis of the lyrics on Oldfield's official web-site.

For the album, which was the first to be recorded at Oldfield's new home in Througham, Oldfield called upon the services of a number of well known musicians to assist him. These included Maddy Prior (vocalist with UK folk rock group Steeleye Span), Pierre Moerlen (Gong), Oldfield's sister Sally (a successful singer in her own right), the African drums of Jabula (who previously played on "Ommadawn"), and the Queen's college Girls Choir. Oldfield also produced and engineered the album. Whether the assertiveness course he took during the period of the recording helped him to keep the whole thing together is not documented!

The four parts are simply entitled "Incantations parts 1 to 4", with no subtitles or sub-sections to the tracks. Part one is based around repetitive themes, which intertwine and build in a similar way to part one of "Ommadawn". Some effective trumpet interjects briefly from time to time, the track incorporating a wonderful repeating choral vocal rendition.

Part two sets off quietly and serenely in a "Hergest ridge part 2" sort of way, the main theme first appearing innocuously as what appears to be a reed organ theme. The "Diana" theme from Part one returns as a lament gently building with rippling accompaniment and flute themes before bursting forth as an emphatic tribal chant. Tom toms then signal the migration to the "Song of Hiawatha", and the divine vocals of Maddy Prior which occupies the latter half of the track. Once again, this vocal section is more of a repeating chant or theme than a song as such.

Part three begins as more orthodox Oldfield, with a lengthy guitar rendition which draws in the main themes of the album. In another ironic parallel with "Topographic oceans", this the third part is the weakest of the four.

The final section opens with a Wakeman like piano recital followed by some fine vibraphone played by Pierre Moerlen, once again picking up the main themes. The track builds and weaves, driven on by ever soaring guitar, until a lone xylophone pulls things back to a basic theme to begin the final assault. This consists of a shortened reprise of the vocal section of part two featuring Maddy Prior.

Whether or not you enjoy this album depends to a large extent on your appetite for repetition. The truth is, while "Incantations" has strong themes, there are fewer of them than might be expected. The diversity of sound through the use of different instruments and vocals certainly offers variety, and serves to disguise the repetition well. For me, "Incantations" sits among Oldfield's stronger albums, but slightly below his best. Well worth a listen though.

Review by russellk
3 stars MIKE OLDFIELD'S first mis-step, 'Incantations' is overlong and musically sparse, despite the use of a small orchestra.

OLDFIELD fans had to wait three years for this, as the man underwent assertiveness training in preparation for his first tour. Fans forgave him with the announcement that 'Incantations' would be a double album, but were generally underwhelmed with the result. Though there are the usual moments of sheer melodic brilliance - the two minute trumpet 'call and reply' six or so minutes into side 1 is an example - much of the seventy-odd minutes is frustratingly minimalist, his creative genius firmly shackled. I can't help wondering if his exegesis therapy removed his creative edge. Certainly something happened to his sense of what his listeners would bear, so impeccable up to this point: virtually every idea here is overdrawn. None more so than the dreadful eight- minute interpretation of Longfellow's 'Hiawatha' - a poem of dubious literary merit and unquestioningly tasteless - sung in the most monotonous fashion by a very nasal MADDY PRIOR. I'm listening to it now: there are still six minutes to go, and you can bet I ain't gonna listen to them. Nope, I didn't.

Can an album be redeemed by the last five minutes? OLDFIELD very nearly pulls it out of the fire with a very convincing finale, appropriating another North American motif and creating another of his patented sonic climaxes, this time with a vibraphone (!) as centrepiece.

Within a year MIKE OLDFIELD would begin creating very different albums in direct response to the onset of punk and disco. This was not the brightest note on which to finish the first phase of his career.

As an aside, his first offering of this 'second phase' of his career was a single called 'Guilty', which is, in fact, a disco rendering of 'Incantations Part 1' main theme. Shudder.

Review by ThulŽatan
5 stars Mike Oldfield's fourth studio album takes tribal myth and imagery as its inspiration, and over four extended, mainly instrumental, pieces - double the playing time of his previous works - presents some breathtaking themes of nature, wonder, celebration, and storytelling. This time around, Oldfield's skill in weaving intricate, rapturous melodies is rivalled by the strong emphasis on rhythm, which when given the long brewing times of each segment makes 'Incantations' his most kinetic music to date. The trademark sounds here are repeating melodies in complex time signatures (driven by synth pipes, flutes and tuned percussion) and the African-style drumming that was used so effectively in 'Ommadawn', so Mike's distinctive guitar playing features only occasionally (with the exception of Part Three, where lead guitar very much dominates). Through the strident, dramatic string synth patterns of Part One to the hypnotic, raining vibraphone exchanges of Part Four, the spectrum of clear colours in 'Incantations' together form an epic and unique whole from this master instrumentalist.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Three years for a double album. This is the time between the great "Ommadawn" and this (not so great) double album.

This is still good music, but Mike seems a bit out of steam and the repetition of the same recipe begins to be more difficult to accept. This work sounds as a collection of his first three albums.

There are plenty of enjoyable parts in here. Beautiful fluting, perfect melodies, ambient and relaxing moments. But was it necessary to develop these ideas on a double album format? I don't think so. "Incantations" could have reached the quality of its great predecessors if it were reduced to a more classic one LP form.

Part two is my favourite movement of the whole. It doesn't hold the trumpets nor the tribal "vocals" of part one which couldn't appeal to me. It is at times truly brilliant and magical. Oldfield at his best IMHHO. More vocals oriented but the choir work and even more the excellent work of his sister Sally adds another dimension to these incantations.

Part three is really close to "Ommadawn". A little too much. Inspiration is a bit "short" I'm afraid. The loop has been looped and Oldfield will pass on to other sounds/concepts in his future work (but not always for the best).

I guess that it is better not to listen to this work in its entirety, but one piece or two is a pretty good exercise (and in this case two and three should be recommended). The end of the third movement is one of my fave parts. Bombastic and powerful.

But no parts are weak. As such, it is a more balanced effort than "Tubular Bells" for instance. I can still understand that some listener won't be overwhelmed with the long and repetitive vibraphone passage during the fourth part of this album but once you'll get over it, you'll be rewarded.

"Incantations" while not exceptional is still a pleasant album and Oldfield fans of his first (golden?) period shouldn't be too much disillusioned. Three stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tales from Tubular Ridges

"Incantations is the composition Mike Oldfield should be remembered for, rather than Tubular Bells." [B. Smith]

I had to steal Easy Livin's hilarious play on words. He's right though, this album is Oldfield's "Tales from Topographic Oceans." An album that splits Oldfield fans, some believing it his greatest work as Smith does while other viewing it as a long, somewhat boring mess. Like Tales, Incantations is a double album consisting of just one track on each album side. Thus, the album will please those who love to hear an artist give their ideas a full working and stretch it way out there.just as it will frustrate those who prefer songs, even progressive ones, to engage the listener more directly. Incantations has a free and unbridled spirit to it.the cover shot is perfect. Taken on the beach of a Mediterranean island called Minorca it captures that unbridled restlessness with waves crashing in, also representing well the themes of the natural world. This album has a high degree of my personal idea of the Oldfield sound. Mike's works from this period have this very magical feeling to the melodies that always bring to mind childhood feelings of innocence, and also the feeling of flying over wonderful landscapes. And I don't mean riding in a plane.I mean the spirit simply moving above the Earth and feeling one's possibilities, whether fantasy, spirituality, or both. These feelings and the childhood memories invoked by the melodies are timeless and likely connected. It was interesting then to read in the booklet bio that Oldfield was learning to fly an aircraft during this same period. Freedom is indeed what Incantations offers the more patient Oldfield fans. Mike reaches broadly here moving from spacey symphonic all the way to meditative world-raga moments to perhaps what new-age could achieve at its best, with some generous helping of his unmistakable and still-fresh guitar sound.

I agree with Smith that Incantations smokes Tubular Bells though I don't believe it quite tops his previous album "Ommadawn." After the masterpiece "Ommadawn" Oldfield tucked himself away for several years, no doubt tinkering away on the material that would become Incantations, but also withdrawing a bit during a time in his life that was difficult. I remember that around the time he emerged to work on this album, a reporter asked him for his opinion of "punk." He claims to have been so out of the music scene that he knew not what the reporter was asking him about, in the time of the Pistols at that. He had recently completed some self-improvement nonsense prior in order to change his outlook on things. What came from a strange time in his personal life is music that is alive, fresh, hopeful. Every fan has their favorite track of the four, for me generally I prefer the more serene first half of the album. Looping keys almost like water, with waves of tense strings.flutes sounding like spring in a forest.stately trumpets.peaceful meditative female vocals over tablas. It really is a unique listening experience though I admit you have to have the time to turn off your mind and really give yourself to it (as is the case with Tales.) The second half (parts 3 and 4) are generally more upbeat, part 3 featuring some of Mike's more aggressive guitar play that will excite fans. Part 4 stumbles and loses any chance at a fifth star in my book with the tragically over-used vibes, not the first time I've had an album wrecked by vibes or xylophone. Sure a little bit is great and interesting.but this goes on.and on. Uplifting repeating themes are the motif of Incantations with Mike indulging every impulse.many will feast on this and other will snooze. Whether you like Incantations says as much about your prog taste as it does about Mike who is really just taking a natural step here.

I love to ask my better half about prog albums we're listening to in the car because she's pretty indifferent about prog but likes music in general. I know I'm always going to get an unbiased opinion which I enjoy. When I asked her about Incantations she just said "nice.but it all kind of falls into the background." Perhaps, but you can fall along with it and inhabit it if you choose. Oldfield had grown and flourished in creativity by this time, improving on the promising yet messy Tubular Bells. He would make many more good albums but he would never be quite as wide open, as sprawling in grandeur, as Incantations. If you love Ommadawn, think of that album as Mike's "Close to the Edge." Then decide if you want to hear his "Tales." 8/10

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars As Tubular Bells was the original "big bang" of the Oldfield Universe, the resulting dust settled over a period of years in the form of albums that took on the character of some aspect of the primordial soup. OK so I am mixing metaphors a bit. But MO's penchant for minimalism, while crystallized on "Platinum" through his Philip Glass cover, was thoroughly indulged in the prior "Incantations". Like so many double albums, it probably should have been put on weight watchers and emerged slimmer. "Incantations" is Oldfield's statement as a serious contemporary composer, which may or may not matter to that fickle aficionado known as a prog fan, and certainly doesn't to a pop fan, of which Oldfield had more than his share.

Four more or less equal parts, each highly repetitive but with distinct sections, comprise the offering. Part 1 seems to summarize where the man had gone before, particularly on Ommadawn, and is most notable for the scintillating dual flutes of Sebastian Bell and Terry Oldfield, Mike Laird's trumpet, and a sort of new age tribalism. The impressive main theme is repeated in the last few minutes and ended stylishly. Part 2 is the weakest, sadly reprising an "Ommadawn" theme without purpose or shame, and is pastoral to the point of somnolence, without enough of the reverent quality present on "Hergest Ridge". The low point is a pancake-flat adaptation of a portion of Longfellow's "Hiawatha", so flat that it would have been best if Maddy Prior had actually just read the words. Part 3 seems to be looking forward a bit, containing flaccid glimpses of what would form the basis for better material on albums like QE2. Again, quite weak, with little to recommend as a piece.

Part 4 is the album's keynote, underscoring by contrast the lack of emotion in the rest of the material. This is deliciously melodramatic, with Oldfield's best guitar work, and repetition that actually works, especially in the spellbinding vibraphone solo by Pierre Moerlen. Even the reprise of Longfellow finds Maddy Prior shifting position on her perch just enough to hit all the necessary highs. This is the only one of the four parts that actually builds from one segment to the next as far as I can tell.

Take most of part 1, add mere sprinkles from 2 and 3, and all of part 4 and you have a solid 4 star effort. But as is, we are dealing with a lullaby more than a magic spell, more so than Mr Oldfield might have intended. Hence 3 stars, good but flawed.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Incantations" is the 4th full-length studio album by UK progressive/ambient rock artist Mike Oldfield. The album was a double vinyl album release on initial release with four side long compositions titled "Incantations Part One to Four". The first CD version is a bit shorter than the original LP version as about three minutes were cut for the CD release (as a consequence of early CDs not being able to have a maximum length, that could feature the entire "Incantations" album). All later CD versions feature the full album. "Incantations" was released through Virgin Records in November 1978.

"Incantations" is what you can safely call an ambitious affair. Four side long compositions are certain to conjure up expectations of progressive greatness. The musical concept behind "Incantations" indeed is quite progressive as Mike Oldfield makes extensive use of the circle of fifths and makes it a mission to modulate through all twelve keys, before moving forward with the next section of a track. Some sections therefore seem very long, although they are played in different keys and therefore do evolve.

As usual Mike Oldfield plays just about every instrument on the album. He handles all guitars, bass, keyboards/synths and percussion. Pierre Moerlen from Gong helps out on drums and Vibraphone and there are other musicians who guest on flutes, trumpet and percussion. There are aslo some quite beautiful vocal parts by Sally Oldfield and Maddy Pryor on the album and some great choir arrangements by The Queens College Girls Choir. The music are generally ambient in nature, which is especially true for "Part I" and "Part II". "Part III" and "Part IV" features more drums and guitars than the the first two and are generally more energetic.

The new age atmosphere of the material, which sometimes reminds me of background music to nature programs on Discovery Channel can be a bit tedious at times, but overall the material are well composed, well played and very well produced. Despite the long song lengths "Incantations" is a relatively accessible release. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars Continues exploring progressive music.

Mike Oldfield makes a little well-deserved break after Ommadawn. He comes back with this huge epic album called Incantations after 3 years of absence from releasing new works. This album looks like absolutely to Tales from Topographic Oceans in its structure. In its quality it is not so different to TFTO, too. It's not just the last very good album for long time being made by Mike Oldfield, but it is even the last somewhat good Mike Oldfield's album for long time. As a tradition for his contemporary progressive rock musicians and bands he got into a long crisis in 1980. It's unique how so much bands and musicians fell apart namely in the year of 1980, with the beginning of the 80s (with awful releases).

If we speak about this one, it is far from awful. I mean it is one of the best MO albums. He continues exploring progressive rock music with strong folk influence as he did it before. This time he uses four epics over 15 minutes and it works. It's full of passion and ideas, and contains a lot of instruments appropriate for the realization of the project. The music is charming and beautiful, but I give 4 stars, instead of 5. I have to explain why...

Really the music is charming and beautiful, and when I listened to this album for the first time I said uau!!! After that with some new listenings the albums begins to show its flaws. The most important are two. The first one being frequently repetitions and the second one being extremely spreaded musical ideas. I think this flaws are ordinary for so long album consisted of four so long songs. And yet I'm staying in front of superb album. 4+ stars

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by lazland
4 stars So, after Yes bombed critically with Tales..., who would be daft enough, certainly in the heady punk/new wave late 1970's, to issue a double LP consisting of a mere four tracks? In addition to this, basing the album around themes and including choral and orchestral arrangements? Surely, commercial and creative suicide in those heady days?

Well, thankfully, no, but I think Oldfield really deserves to be commended for taking such a bold step, and, at times, parts of this album are right up there with his best works, and this certainly, in my opinion, compares very strongly with Ommadawn and Hergest Ridge.

There are some lush arrangements on this album, and the whole is really a symphonic piece for what was then the modern era. Maddy Prior and Oldfield's sister, Sally, lend weight in their guest appearances, and both are excellent.

However, it is to me the orchestral strings by David Bedford, the contribution by Queens College Girls Choir, and some exceptional flute work by Sebastian Bell and Terry Oldfield, that, mixed with the trademark Oldfield guitar and some lush keyboards, make this album such a pleasure to listen to.

Also, unlike Topographic Oceans, which I found hard work during parts of sides two & three, I never get tired of hearing this throughout its entire length. Like all great symphonic pieces, it holds the attention, during quiet and rockier phases. However, my only criticism of the album is that, as much as I love Oldfield's harder rock edges, the phase on side three is not really in keeping with the ambient feel of everything else on the album. It's still good, but somehow slightly out of place.

Oldfield also anticipates the popularisation of world music on this album by including African drums, a fair few years before such instrumentation was utilised more widely.

All in all, a very strong release and a very brave one considering the time in which it came out.

Four stars. An excellent album from the instrumental master.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Evolution by repetition

I was surprised to find that I had not yet reviewed this album as I distinctly remember having done so. Incantations took longer to make than Oldfield's previous albums and the result was a double album with only four long and almost entirely instrumental pieces. He wisely left out the silly and whimsical aspects of Tubular Bells and concentrated on more serious composition for this album. Mike's electric guitar sound had improved a lot since Tubular Bells and here it has a much cleaner and more powerful sound. On Incantations Part Three he sounds quite a bit like Steve Howe and this third part is probably my favourite of the four pieces.

One major problem with this album is that it is so repetitive. I often get the feeling that the compositions have been drawn out to fit the double album format. There are many wonderful passages (indeed, some of Oldfield's best ever!), and nothing that is bad at all, but the whole album could easily have been condensed into a single LP. That would have made it more interesting and easier to listen to in its entirety. Still, I think that Incantations competes with Ommadawn for being the best Mike Oldfield album up till that point in his career.

Recommended, but not as good as it probably could have been

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I first heard this suite of four songs in its live from Spain form, 1979's Exposed. I fell in love with it immediately--in both the live and studio versions--and it has remained my number two favorite MO album ever. The vocal performances of Sally Oldfield and Maddy Prior, alone, are stunning, and the musical journey wonderful in all four parts, though I have always been partial to the Phillip Glass-like opening quarter, the more spacious, folk-pastoral second side is gorgeous (and almost religious) and the use of Longfellow's "Gitche Gumee" Song of Hiawatha is genius. I guess the more classically infused and guitar-led third section would be my least favorite section, even though the woodwind parts are excellent; it too earns a five star rating. My favorite instruments to follow throughout (besides the vocalists) happen to be the African rhythmists and tuned percussives (especially Pierre Moerlin's xylophone). Fascinating--and the fact that they pulled it off so well live also astounds me. The weakest part of the composition, for me, is the electric guitars.

"Part One" (19:10) (39/40) "Part Two" (19:38) (38/40) "Part Three" (17:03) (31.5/35) "Part Four" (17:00) (32.5/35)

A/five stars; a standout masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Structurally speaking, this one is Mike Oldfield's Tales From Topographic Oceans, being as it is a double album of just four side-long pieces. And like Tales From Topographic Oceans, it's a divisive one, with people who had been won over by his single album-length compositions put off just as others embraced it.

To be honest, I think the running time is the major issue here - any album clocking in over 70 minutes is going to find keeping the listener's attention a challenge at times, and the material here is repetitive enough that I don't often find it as rewarding to listen to the whole thing in one sitting compared to Tubular Bells or Ommadawn. However, taken as individual tracks, the various parts of this whole are as good as ever. My advice: take it slowly, chew it over carefully, and give yourself a chance to digest it properly, and you'll get the best out of this one.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Original, but Laden. Oldfield attempted to go beyond his first three albums, by writing an even-longer and more orchestral piece stretching now to four sides of a double- (vinyl) album. The result is highly original, often very musical, and totally Oldfield. However, it over-reaches, particularly ... (read more)

Report this review (#1718277) | Posted by Walkscore | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1686829) | Posted by SteveG | Sunday, January 29, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As with my other review of Can's "Tago Mago" I consider this another masterpiece in the world of prog-rock music. I don't think that there is a more, well conceived album than this one. The scope of it is just breathtaking. And the cast of musicians that helped him flesh the work out is extr ... (read more)

Report this review (#948335) | Posted by Longliveprog | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm tempted to call this album the finest prog release of Mike Oldfield, and perhaps the most cruelly overlooked progressive rock album of the classic era. While I agree that "Ommadawn" and "Amarok" are his best albums, "Incantations" is his greatest achievement, if only for its scope. Extendin ... (read more)

Report this review (#825516) | Posted by Scoppioingola | Thursday, September 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'Incantations' was easily the most relaxed album of Mike's career so far. I can't find any other album from the late seventies era remotely like this. Punk was still raging and I don't think Oldfield paid even the slightest bit of attention to what was going on around him. It is quite a timele ... (read more)

Report this review (#560758) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8.5/10 Incantations is among the four of Mike Oldfield albums I've heard so far, the most fantastic. Like its predecessors, the album consists of a single song of long duration, but this has incredible 72 minutes - and were some of the best minutes of my experience as proghead. The music i ... (read more)

Report this review (#520422) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Incantations is probably the most ambitious work of Mike Oldfield. Tubular Bells is the most famous of Mike's albums because, being the first, was a true novelty at the time. Incantations might not be as original, but is the result of the full development of the style he then initiated. Incanta ... (read more)

Report this review (#264888) | Posted by bfmuller | Sunday, February 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Incantations is long but more inspiring than boring, features great vibraphone work from Pierre Moerlen (if you love Incantations, try Pierre Moerlen's Gong album "Downwind" which also features Mike Oldfield), and it's one of Oldfield's early albums... So it has this special touch which he lost ... (read more)

Report this review (#138766) | Posted by Nao/Gilles | Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After achieving something so extraordinary as Ommadawn, Mike made the choice to continue changing as always, and in 1978 released Incantations, the first studio album for 3 years, that took on more of the electronic rock feel, but never succumbing to the coldness of traditional electronic rock, w ... (read more)

Report this review (#105232) | Posted by OGTL | Tuesday, January 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Incanations buy Mike Oldfield, what a controversial album. Incantations could perhaps be compared to Tales From Topografic Oceans. Extremely ambitious album, but which did not reach the finish line. Incatations has beautiful melodies and singing. It has the great feeling of power in it, but unfor ... (read more)

Report this review (#103862) | Posted by gimsom | Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've listened to Incantations for the first time after many years. (In fact I did listened to the shortened live version of Incantations from the Exposed album). I remember that when Incantation first came out, there was a load of expectations on it, everyone was curious to see what would be Oldf ... (read more)

Report this review (#89703) | Posted by ShW1 | Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a great album and one of my favorites. Especially I like the symphonic way tunes reappear in the different parts of the album. Although the album may feel too subtle first, it can be listened again and again. Recommendable to all friends of Oldfield's music. ... (read more)

Report this review (#89286) | Posted by LovingSpoonful | Friday, September 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Incantations"! Just love this one! A four track album (with one track on each of the four sides on the LP-version). The album forms a completely homogenic unit (in a very positive way). Maddy Prior's singing together with the slow-going rhythms gives an ecstatic but melancholic atmosphere. O ... (read more)

Report this review (#59355) | Posted by 1971 | Tuesday, December 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The fourth release in 1978 "Incantations". Profound work that composes one of 2 piece sets on record. It is a work that progresses dramatically. Playing the guitar and the keyboard is also vivid. It keeps noble and there is a calm distinctive character in string music in the LP1 piece. It is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#44175) | Posted by braindamage | Thursday, August 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Mike Oldfield is a genius ! Listen to "Tubular Bells" and think he wrote most of the parts at the age of 17 ! I love his four first studio cd to death, but "Incantation" is just the peek of his carreer, a masterpiece, and my favorite cd ever after foxtrot and thick as a brick. Yes, some say it ... (read more)

Report this review (#28343) | Posted by Jarre | Monday, March 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is Mike Oldfields Tales from topographic oceans. That should say enough. But for the ones who don't know what I mean by that; it's his most ambitious work to date, its about eighty minutes of music. It has been carefully constructed and very well composed, and it includes some of his best ... (read more)

Report this review (#28342) | Posted by TBWART | Saturday, March 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is nothing short of a masterpiece, and probably the most accomplished and ambitious album from Mike Oldfield since Tubular Bells. Each piece is lyrical and melodic, with complex poly-rhythms and intricate melodies, spun by sequencers and orchestrated by electronic keyboards. Oldfield is t ... (read more)

Report this review (#28338) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Thursday, February 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What a progression Oldfield has made! From tubular bells, which is nothing more than a bunch of very good musical idea's glued together, to this, wich can be regarded as Oldfields ultimate masterpiece. It flows from fast rythm landscapes to hard rock scenes, but it never loses itself in the se ... (read more)

Report this review (#28336) | Posted by | Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of MIKE OLDFIELD "Incantations"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.