Incantations is a double album, released in late 1978 It was his fourth studio album, and the first to feature a piece divided into more than two movements.
The current CD issue fits the entire album onto one disc. It is the second longest work Oldfield has ever released.
Despite being the most large-scale work by Oldfield, many moments of the album can be described as being compositionally minimalist, featuring melodic lines repeated in simple forms with only a few instruments at a time.
Incantations was recorded at Througham, Mike Oldfield's home after he completed Ommadawn. It was his desire to create an album that would make use of a small orchestra, and some of his own statements indicate that he may have moved into his new house simply because it had room for one. He had used "extra-instrumental" ensembles previously, such as the brass ensemble on Ommadawn and the string/choir group on Hergest Ridge before that, but they form a major part of Incantations.
It was during the creation of Incantations that Mike Oldfield underwent the assertiveness training course "Exegesis", and between the earlier parts and the later parts of the album there is a definite difference in style, possibly due to the course. The course may have had added effects to bolster his confidence, as it was almost immediately thereafter that Oldfield went on his first live tour with Incantations.
The lyrics in "Part Two" are taken from Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha", though rearranged in places to conform more to the music.
The lyrics in "Part Four" are Ben Jonson's "Ode to Cynthia" from Cynthia's Revels, but adjusted again to match the music.
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