Mike Oldfield - Incantations

Album cover

  1. Part one (19:09)
  2. Part two (19:38)
  3. Part three (17:00)
  4. Part four (17:01)

Virgin, 1978

also by Mike Oldfield:

The fourth and last of Oldfield's instrumental epics of the 70's. The four pieces of "Incantations" had much fresher, sunnier arrangements, reflecting Oldfield's newly-found confidence. Much of the composition has a minimalist, Philip Glass feel, with lots of organically-growing instrumental loops. This may be connected with Oldfield's collaboration with composer David Bedford. Percussionist Pierre Moerlen (of Gong) also adds a distinctive voice to the album with his hypnotic vibraphone and drum patterns.

Part One is effectively a little flute concerto for Terry Oldfield, over restless, shimmering patterns of strings. Part Two continues in the same style, until Maddy Prior takes over, singing a hypnotic Song of Hiawatha over an ethereal background of tuned percussion. The third track is more of a conventional instrumental rock-band piece. This is more palatable in shorter live versions (see "Exposed"), as it doesn't have enough ideas to fill 17 minutes. Part Four, however, is a much stronger composition, starting with glittering curtains of harp and vibes. Themes from the previous pieces are extemporised on Oldfield's guitar and passed around the arrangement with style. The album finishes with a perfectly-timed crescendo, and the return of the Hiawatha song.

December 9, 2003

8 out of 10

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