Legend, innovator, a singular musical mind, and an inspiration for many are just a few of the labels that can be placed firmly upon the mantel of Mike Oldfield. Whether a fan of his music or not, he brings respect and admiration for his creative work from all. Never resting on the laurels of his seminal Tubular Bells he explored and boldly realised his ideas and musical thoughts with often surprising but generally always satisfying results.
As done with three others of his albums to date, the 1978 Incantations album has been carefully remastered by Oldfield with Mercury, to whom his Virgin catalogue moved to in 2008, their care and attention to the process obvious with the high standard and generous extras on the Incantations Deluxe Edition.
Incantations was Oldfield’s first and only studio double album, consisting of four immense emotion inspiring movements of the title track across a double album it was some of the most spiritual, ethereal, and sensual music found anywhere outside of his own creations. On the remastered Deluxe Edition we are given not only the impressive double album but also an abundance of beautiful and senses caressing musical manna in the likes of the legendary 1979 single ‘Guilty’ recorded in New York City at the height of the disco movement, his stirring version of the ‘William Tell Overture’, and the wonderful ‘Hiawatha’ where the voice of Oldfield’s sister Sally Oldfield is rapture over the instinctive percussion.
The music throughout Incantations and the songs within the package come from the wondrous musical ability of Mike Oldfield but also feature the great musical skills of numerous guests including David Bedford (strings & chorus), Terry Oldfield (flutes), Maddy Pryor (vocals), and The Queens College Girls Choir. It is the use and placing of such talent as much as their prowess that makes their contributions as essential to the music as it is. Whether instrumentation, voices or simply his ideas, nothing is just an addition or a piece of musical dressing, everything is integral to the ultimate destination the music takes the listener to. Certainly on the four tracks that makes up ‘Incantations’ it is a stunning emotive adventure and experience that one never forgets or can avoid feeling upon every listen. As a whole it is a great symphonic piece, grabbing the attention and feeding the heart whether during the gentle and tender quiet moments or the rockier eager phases, a pleasing landscape of ambient glory, a masterpiece of minimalism.
It is unfair to pick out parts that standout over the others as really ‘Incantations’ should be taken as a whole but the vibrant rock edge of ‘Part Three’ brings an extra kick and lift that makes listening grasp such a high plateau. Something that can also be said about the treat and closing track the previously unreleased ‘Diana – Desiderata’. It is a gloriously atmospheric track combining moody guitars and emotive choral backing, a pure jewel.
The release is a real gift of magic for all Oldfield fans but also a wonderful introduction for others not yet aware of any of the his work beyond Tubular Bells if at all.
Incantations Deluxe Edition is available now.