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This review is from: Amarok [HDCD] (Audio CD)
I grew up in a house filled with Mike Oldfield's music - I remember my dad buying "Tubular Bells" when it first came out and it never being off the record player pretty much until his second album came out. As I grew older and heard each album I became more of a fan, loving every album with only a few exceptions. When "Amarok" came out there was the usual argument between my dad and I as to who'd get the first listen, and as usual I was upset to lose out. Normally after he'd had a listen he would hand me the CD, say it was brilliant, and after I'd had a listen I'd agree wholeheartedly. On this occasion, however, he simply said "see what you think."
After the first listen I was shocked. I really didn't like it - it seemed bitty, incoherent, almost insane. But I felt compelled to listen again, so I did, and after the second hearing it seemed to click. This album is truly astonishing.
Don't expect the usual Oldfield drifting melodies, the themes of "Tubular Bells" or "Crises" or "incantations". This is something different. It was recorded during his fall-out with Richard Branson and you can really hear Oldfield's anger and frustration in the music (and, if you understand morse code, there's a message to Branson hidden deep inside the music). There *are* recurring themes in here, and there is true beauty in some of the segments, but one thing is for certain - the grand finale of "Amarok" (and it certainly *is* grand) must rank as one of the most exciting and uplifting passages of music ever written.
Most of Oldfield's other work shows flashes of sheer greatness. With "Amarok" he gave us sixty non-stop minutes of greatness.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Sep 2012 12:45:52 BDT
I enjoyed reading your review. Ive been looking for something to replace Light & Shade and Tres Lunas (both of which were sought out to rival Songs of Distant Earth - my fave to date). I loved your description of being poised ready to strike the bell or plectrum at the ready - his work really does get to you like that! If you know these albums, how would you say Amorok compares? Thanks, I guess Im looking for something that moves me as much as the above mentioned ones do.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2012 13:03:54 BDT
Peter Lee says:
Hello! Well "Amarok" is certainly a strange album, and it isn't as ambient-sounding as the three albums you mentioned. At first listen it sounds like a mess, discordant in places, but as soon as I'd listened to it that first time I wanted to hear it again and on that second listen it really worked for me and I've loved it since. I read somewhere than Virgin wanted him to release something from which they could pull a single, so he deliberately recorded "Amarok" in such a way that whenever there is a nice stretch of music he'd insert something odd like the sound of an alarm clock, boots on a floor, a window smashing etc. just to stop them editing it!
My dad loves "Distant Earth" most of all but he also likes "Amarok" a lot. Personally I never really got into "TSODE" but I love the likes of "Ommadawn", "Tubular Bells" 1-3, "Crises", "Islands" and so on, and although it is clearly the same Mike Oldfield "Amarok" sounds unique. Ultimately the CD is now available for next to nothing, so it's certainly worth buying it and seeing what you think. Even if you don't really like all of it there are bound to be sections you fall in love with. Hope that helps!
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