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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 14 May 2017
better than the original
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on 15 June 2017
I love the classics, it's nostalgic
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on 26 July 2011
I'll try and keep this brief.
First off -musically, I believe that this is Oldfield's strongest album. I have loved it since I bough it on double vinyl in 1978. It is like an old friend to me. It relaxes, soothes and moves me whenever I listen to it. Since I first bought into surround music in 2001 I had always hoped that one day this album would be given the 5.1 treatment (preferably in DVD audio but at the very least DTS). When Universal released Rush - Moving Pictures on blu-ray it was relieving to see that at least one record company was taking up the mantle of hi-rez 5.1 music after the sad demise of dvd audio and sacd. When I heard that Incantations was to be released as a deluxe addition, I hoped that, as consumers, we would be given the choice of purchasing a hi-rez version, as we were with Moving Pictures, but had been denied with the three previous Oldfield re-masters. Not so, unfortunately. We don't even get a 'lossy' Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of the complete album - just some questionable snippets ( e.g. the Stephen Hawking Addition to Diana which just detracts from the musical ambiance) - in lossy DD 5.1.
I still love this album, and always will, but prefer the previous 2001 HDCD version which sounds better, especially if you have an HDCD capable player.
The previous re-mastered versions have been re-mixed from the original multitrack tapes which gave them some new vibrancy and detail (and allows the entire album to be mixed in 5.1 surround). However, Incantations has only been re-mastered from the 2 track stereo masters, therefore it would not have been possible to alter the original mixes in any way, except with regard to e.q. e.g. by adding better quality reverbs/delays/effects etc, as was the case with the previous deluxe editions. Also without the muti-track masters it would not be possible to mix the album in 5.1.
Maybe the multitracks were lost or in poor condition making this impossible.
I am hoping for more with Platinum. Not so brief, but I had a lot to get off my chest.
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on 7 June 2017
I bought this after reading that it completed the quartet of Mike Oldfield's early works, Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations. A double CD, presumably originally a double album, this CD gives me well over an hour of undisturbed meditation (or sleep as the Memsahib calls it) but comes with a bonus track (why oh why oh why do record companies spoil the flow of an album with these so called bonuses, especially when it’s a bit different to all that precedes it and therefore disturbs the flow). So what's it like, well as far as I can remember it's a bit like all the others but with a noisier start so takes a little longer to nod off, and that's the problem. Not the noisier start but that it’s a bit like all the others.
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on 25 July 2011

It looks like Universal are going to sort out the glitch after all:

Thank you for your email regarding Mike Oldfield's Incantations.
The new re-master of Incantations is faithful to the original analogue master tape. These tapes included an edit point at 12:37 on Part 4 of Incantations which can be discerned as a small jump in the track. Following feedback that this has affected the enjoyment for some listeners, a new master has been prepared and approved by Mike for all subsequent pressings. If you would like us to send you an amended disc please let us have your address details and we will send you one. Please email mk.customerservices@umusic.com for CD and support@universal-music.co.uk for vinyl.

If you have any further enquiries please don't hesitate to contact us: on:support@universal-music.co.uk

Kind regards,
Universal Music"

Original review:


As we all know the course of true love never does run smooth - and so it seems with these Mike Oldfield re-releases/remasters.

Firstly the packaging.

Clearly things must be getting tight at Universal Music as we no longer get the clear plastic shroud to protect the digipack - instead we get a tape wrapped around the bottom of the product sealing the flaps shut.

Don't worry it comes off easy enough but then you have to throw it away - which is probably a clever marketing ploy - because on that piece of tape you have just thrown away is the only place where it says this is a "deluxe" product!

There is a big black sticker over the rather nice new photograph of the Minorca beach proclaiming the new 2011 remaster with 5.1 mixes and rare and previously un-released material - again this comes easily enough off and you get to throw this away too - Hmmm - a pattern is emerging here.

After having gone through the discs I can see why these "stickers" are so placed and so disposable. I'm almost tempted to throw the whole thing away after going through it all.

On the positive side the booklet is good - the notes are informative and do offer up a few bits and pieces not normally regurgitated. Interestingly they still can't mention "Don Alfonso" - Its still referred to as "a single" when the "For Maureen" version of In Dulci Jubilo is bought up!

Disc 1:

The 2011 "remaster". Incantations has always sounded bright and clear on its previous incarnations - perhaps a little too bright on some systems. No danger of that on this release though. There is definitely a dampening filter put across the recording. It tones down the brightness of the sound - cymbals and glockenspiels are more muted and there is sense of a blanket being placed over the speakers. Some people may well prefer this. I do not. Listen to the start of Part 3 - usually a cacophony of crashes and tinkles - its quite dull on this version with the shaking tambourine almost disappearing entirely.

Unfortunately there is still an annoying high pitched whine at various points in the recording - most noticeably right at the start of Part One - Incantations has always had this so I'm guessing its on the master but you'd think this could be filtered out now using today's technology.

The little wobble in the beginning bit of Part 2 has finally gone however horror of horrors it has been replaced by the most unforgivable of sins - a glitch jump in Part 4 around 12:37 just at the start of the wonderful marimba section.

tagged at the end is a "remaster" of Guilty - the single version. Only here its running noticeably slower. 14 seconds slower - and it sounds dreadful.

Disc 2:

I'm at a bit of a loss to comprehend what the purpose of including the "new" pieces was. They are pleasant enough but really do not seem to add anything to the Oldfield canon.
Diana is nice but just meanders with no sense of purpose and just fades away to nothing.
Northumbrian is clearly an out take or cut from an improvisation - you can see why it didn't get used anywhere.
Piano Improvisation - is exactly what it says - a sketch of an idea - only notable to hear where part of Platinum came from.
Hiawatha is painful. The vocal has been auto-tuned - very badly. And again the "mix" does not add anything of particular note.
Canon for 2 Vibraphones - sounds just like its lifted straight from the master - nothing new and nothing of any particular note.

Thank goodness for the short singles being on here with no problems - its good to finally get Pipe Tune & Wrekorder Wrondo on CD with no tweaking. Tho its a pity they didn't include the Incantations excerpt that was the B side to Guilty - It's even acknowledged in the booklet!

The new mix of the extended version of Guilty is actually ok! Its missing the double drum hits right at the start but it has a good sound scape and feels a bit more polished - until the new twiddly guitar bits at the end which frankly sound amateur and distracting. The abrupt fade out at the end is disconcerting.

Then the disc closes with Diana Desiderata. Again its pleasant enough but without a decent end or being in context with the rest of Incantations it just doesn't hold its own. The addition of the Stephen Hawking voice is off putting and un-necessary.

Disc 3:

The pieces that were on Disc 2 but now in surround - really I don't know why he bothered! Diana is probably the best of the bunch but for all the other pieces the surround really does not add anything.

Again Guilty is the best track - the surround works well for this - until you get to the ridiculous guitar at the end which just sounds too loud and clearly just plonked over the top of the original.

The videos of William Tell & Guilty suffer from the same issues as the videos on the previous re-releases. They have put thin black bands top and bottom of the picture reducing the size of the image and the videos suffer from artefacts and banding whenever there is a jump cut - as if the video level is too high and the processing peaks and cuts out.

So overall I have to say I am very disappointed. This is not what I would call a "deluxe" product - and I seriously doubt I will be playing anything from it again bar the short singles on Disc 2.
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on 6 August 2011
Shame on quality control by Universal and Oldfield himself. Don't get me wrong the original Incantations could be five stars but this release lacks of quality control.
I have just received my CD and I can tell you that if Universal says "These tapes included an edit point at 12:37 on Part 4 of Incantations which can be discerned as a small jump in the track..." it's not just a small jump it's a mistake that needs to be corrected right now. Amazon should remove the item until a new release comes to stores. Be warned you will notice the jump even if you never heard Incantations before.
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on 17 September 2011
Let me start by saying that this is a great album. An absolute classic for any Mike Oldfield fan. And with the remaster/re-issue, this seemed like the perfect time to get the CD of a long-forgotten favourite.

But my decision to buy it now was influenced by the amendment to a previous review. The editing flaw on part 4 has been fixed by Universal in response to complaints (and full marks to them). So I was expecting to get this fixed release. But I didn't.

In truth, had it just been there (as it was on the original) I'd have lived with it, but knowing it has been sorted on new copies means that every time I hear it, it jars. So I'm returning it. I may try again in a few months, in the hope that the repaired version will have made its way into the stocks.

I actually bought the CD from one of Amazon's agents, so in fairness, Amazon may have already replaced the older stock. But we really should have more transparency here, both from Amazon and its other sellers. Just selling off old stock with a fault that has now been repaired is not good practice, and is bound to aggravate customers.
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on 2 May 2017
Always like Mike Oldfield
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on 27 April 2017
Still as good as the vinyl. A real treat to have on in the car.
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on 12 April 2017
Lovely music.
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