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|Studio album by Mike Oldfield|
|Released||14 June 1990|
|Recorded||September 1989 – March 1990|
|Genre||World, Progressive rock|
|Mike Oldfield chronology|
Amarok is the 13th record album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1990. It is considered by fans to be his most distinctive work: a single sixty-minute track of continuous, uninterrupted but constantly changing music.
Disagreements with Virgin and marketing 
Virgin Records had been trying to convince Oldfield to release a sequel to Tubular Bells, though probably more for the name recognition than anything else, particularly as Oldfield's contract was due to expire. Instead, he created an album that seems to have been created to be as much a delight to his fans as it was a frustration to Virgin.
It is next to impossible to isolate any one short, radio-friendly section of Amarok without it seeming out of place, and thus no single could be cut and released separately, nor could the album ever be played on popular radio. Similarly, Oldfield has never performed Amarok live in its entirety, though he has played excerpts from time to time. Oldfield had expressed many times his displeasure at Virgin's lack of promotion of his works, and Amarok might have been his revenge: a completely unmarketable album that still showcased his talent as a composer and performer. Oldfield did attempt to circumvent Virgin and create publicity for the album by offering a prize of £1000 of his own money to the first person to find the "secret message" hidden within it, although the competition received little coverage and its impact on sales was negligible. The message was actually a piece of Morse code found 48 minutes into the piece and spelling out "FUCK OFF RB", a direct statement to Virgin chief Richard Branson.
Amarok, along with Heaven's Open (Oldfield's final album for Virgin) can be seen as an emphatic and dismissive farewell to the record company. Along with the Morse code message, the album's back cover reads: " HEALTH WARNING - This record could be hazardous to the health of cloth-eared nincompoops. If you suffer from this condition, consult your Doctor immediately ", a skit on the spoof listening instructions on the sleeve of Tubular Bells.
In Australia the album was released in a double pack with Tubular Bells.
In addition to his usual impressive list of instruments, Oldfield also employed a number of items in Amarok's creation such as shoes, spoons, a Hoover vacuum cleaner and "contents of aeromodeller's toolbox".
Though tubular bells are used on the album, they are ambiguously listed in the liner notes as "long thin metallic hanging tubes," possibly a humorous way for Oldfield to avoid bringing to mind his first work. This may also have been one more snub at Virgin. Oldfield did not release the much-desired sequel to Tubular Bells until he was with Warner.
Comparison to Ommadawn 
Many fans do claim that Amarok is to be considered "Ommadawn II", and certainly, Oldfield seems to have involved many of the same people that were a part of Ommadawn: Jabula, Clodagh Simmonds, Bridget St John and Paddy Moloney performed on both. Also, William Murray, who co-wrote the song "On Horseback" for Ommadawn, took the Amarok cover photo and wrote the short story included in the liner notes. Murray used David Bailey's Ommadawn cover photograph as inspiration and Tom Newman created the metal lettering. Oldfield himself reportedly said in an interview, "It's not Tubular Bells II; if anything, it's Ommadawn II."
Oldfield noted that Amarok was an experiment to see if he could create this album without the aid of computers, which he had used on some of his previous albums. He focused more on the musicianship, playing all of the instruments by hand.
Live performance 
Although Oldfield has never performed the work live in its entirety, a duo comprising American pianist Gus Fogle and bassist Jason Miller performed the piece in April 2012, after it had been transcribed note for note by Welsh composer and arranger Ryan Yard.
Meanings of the title 
The origin of the name has always been a point of contention. Oldfield has said: "It doesn't have a real meaning but it's similar to many Gaelic words, like those for morning or happy. And if you split the letters up, you get Am-a-rok... it could mean: am a rock. Maybe that implies I don't want to change anything by following trends."
but numerous theories abound:
- "Amaroq" is Inuktitut for "wolf" - in particular, Amarok is the name of a giant wolf in Inuit mythology, reputed to hunt down lone travellers, and used by parents to frighten children. A wolf is heard in the album.
- "Amárach" is Irish for "tomorrow." It is pronounced with a long second 'a'.
- The words "amarok" and "amadán" (the origin of Ommadawn) begin with roughly the same "ama" sound, and there is sufficient evidence that Amarok is a sequel of sorts to Ommadawn.
|“||I am told that when men hear its voice, it stays in their ears, they cannot be rid of it. It has many different voices: some happy, but others sad. It roars like a baboon, murmurs like a child, drums like the blazing arms of one thousand drummers, rustles like water in a glass, sings like a lover and laments like a priest...||”|
—William Murray, From the short story included in the liner notes.
Lyrics excerpts 
- The "Sondela" finale of "Africa III" (from 58:44 to 60:02, the end), sung in the Xhosa language:
- " Sondela / uSomandla / sukuma / wena / obengezela. "
- Come closer / the Almighty / arise / you / shining one.
- (Come closer to us, o Almighty: arise, you who shines.)
Track listing 
The album-long track and its 'movement' names:
- "Amarok" – 60:02
- Mike Oldfield – acoustic bass guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitar, bass whistles, bouzouki (misspelled in the liner notes as "bazouki"), bell tree, bodhran, bowed guitar, cabasa, classical guitar, electric guitars, Farfisa, Lowrey and Vox organs, Flamenco guitar, glockenspiel (misspelled in the liner notes as "glockenspeil"), high-string guitar, jaw harp, kalimba, mandolin, marimba, melodica, Northumbrian bagpipes, penny whistles, percussion, piano, psaltery, rototom, sitar guitar (a Coral electric sitar), spinet, timpani, tubular bells (listed as "long thin metallic hanging tubes"), twelve-string guitar, ukulele, violin, vocals, and wonga box.
- Janet Brown – voice of "Margaret Thatcher"
- Jabula – African choir and percussion
- Paddy Moloney – tin whistle
- Clodagh Simonds – vocals
- Bridget St John – vocals
- Tom Newman – producer and engineer.
Album promo samplers 
Amarok Sampler 
Amarok Sampler is a promotional CD-Maxi released in Germany in May 1990 including 5 excerpts from the album, with catalogue number 663 271 000.
- "Amarok" (3:09) excerpt I
- "Amarok" (3:22) excerpt II
- "Amarok" (9:30) excerpt III
- "Amarok" (1:53) excerpt IV
- "Amarok" (2:29) excerpt V
Amarok X-Trax 
Amarok X-Trax is the name of two promotional CD-Maxis, one was issued in UK with catalogue number AMACD 1DJ, and one was given away free with W H Smith's in-store magazine Insight, with catalogue number AMACD 1. The WH Smith version included I, II & V from AMACD 1DJ.
- "Amarok" (3:05) excerpt I
- "Amarok" (4:16) excerpt II
- "Amarok" (3:47) excerpt III
- "Amarok" (5:18) excerpt IV
- "Amarok" (5:38) excerpt V
The album did not chart very highly, but managed to enter the top 50 in various European countries.
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||26|
|German Albums (Media Control)||16|
|Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)||66|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||50|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||30|
- "Amarok review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-12-22.
- "Interview with Mike Oldfield". Home & Studio Recording Magazine. 1991-03. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- Mile Daly (1990-06-07). "Oldfield's 'Amarok' is music to ears not captive to fake". The Age. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "Not Totally Tubular,". Goldmine. 1997-07. Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Mike Oldfield Turns the clock Back - Computers: Curse of Modern Music". Sym-info-Magazine. 1990-10. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
- "Mike Oldfield interview". Gareth Randall. 1995-06-01. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
- "Gus Fogle and Jason Miller perform Amarok live". 2012-04. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "Ryan Yard news". Ryan Yard. Retrieved 2012-05-18.
- "Short Story from Amarok". Tubular.net. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- "Mike Oldfield - Amarok" (In German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline". Musicline.de. Media Control. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Mike Oldfield – Amarok". Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Mike Oldfield – Amarok". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Mike Oldfield – Amarok". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- Mike Oldfield discography - Amarok at Tubular.net
- Amarok analysis - An almost second-by-second map of Amarok at Tubular.net
- Amarok lyrics - Partial: Sondela, and "Margaret Thatcher" speech.
- Amarok transcript - Complete and verbatim (on a stable Internet Archive link)