3 Ages reviews

The 3 Ages of Magick

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"Classic Rock Society" Magazine Review

The CRS have already reviewed this album of course, in 2001, and it's hard not to disagree with Martin Hudson's very positive review of what is an excellent, atmospheric, melodic and beautifully played collection of pieces.

The album's secret weapon is its supremely tasteful and well judged use of the guitar of Steve Howe which weaves around Oliver's varied keys with just the right level of dominance - always there yet never the star.

Martin also mentioned (respectfully) in his review that comparisons to Oliver's father might be hard to ignore and that is also correct. The whole album has some stylistic similarities - both in overall tone and in choice of keyboard sounds - to something Rick might have produced. However, in terms of quality it really does deserve another outing and it's great to see it released, with some very fine bonus tracks, by Esoteric.

Stephen Lambe

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"Rock 'n Reel" Magazine Review

Oliver Wakeman has inherited a number of things from his dear old dad. Rock-star looks, nimble fingers and, most notably, his musical sensibility.

This is amply demonstrated on a welcome reissue of his 2001 album. From the opening chords of 'The Ages Of l\/lagick' we?re in familiar territory. Lush orchestrations, squelchy synths, majestic choirs and hummable melodies.

But even if that track does hark back to Wakeman Sr.'s Arthurian heyday it shouldn't imply that lunior's work is just a familial knock-off. He has a distinctive style all his own, too, as the following track, 'Mind Over Matter', demonstrates with its insistent, threatening neo-prog feel. The distinctives across the album are clear enough to mark Oliver Wakeman as an artist in his own right. His influences are clearly classical and progressive but diverse. ln fact, one track, 'Flight Of The Condor', even evokes a Wakeman, Emerson and Jarre duelling keyboards contest.

However, his master stroke on this album is involving Yes guitarist Steve Howe intimately in the project. Howe's guitar playing, whether it's his trademark fluid, cascading runs, his unconventional slide guitar or classical picking is unmistakable. lt blends perfectly into the mix, adding a perfect foil to the sumptuous synth sounds.

Trevor Raggatt

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"Proglands" Website Review #1

As a complete Steve Howe fanatic, I had to check this album out. Steve plays on several tracks - both acoustic and electric guitars. I was surprised about how good this album is, and not just because Steve plays on it. Oliver has picked up more than a few tricks from his father. Their playing styles are indeed very similar. Rick has taught both his sons very well. But I would not say that Oliver doesn't bring anything new.

I don't think that this album just as well could have been a Rick Wakeman album - Oliver has developed his own style. What impressed me the most was not the playing but Oliver's ability to write music. This is very good instrumental material. T he album is varied yet consistent and does not get boring half way through as so many instrumental albums do.

The music is something of a crossover between Rick Wakeman and Mike Oldfield. The Celtic influences and instruments stand out in particular. But this is hardly New Age music even if some tracks have that feeling. This music has much more punch than New Age music. Some tracks really rock! In their own kind of way.

For fans of Rick and Steve, give Oliver a chance.

Reviewed by: SouthSideoftheSky - PROG REVIEWER
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"Proglands" Website Review #2

Oliver and Steve ! it had to be expected. Why not? I think this album is a great one. It have a great classical melodic trend in here. The songs are short and variate from pop-rock elements to symphonic music and most of the time melodic. Everythings is good here. A quite nice album with goods relaxation moments. Oliver is a great keyboardist like is father and he is playing well classical music like the others style.
Recommanded Denis_t

Reviewed by: Denis_t
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"ProgressiveWorld.net" Review 2

Surely you are already accustomed to the wondrous passages created between Oliver [Wakeman]'s famous father and Steve Howe when the two paired perfectly in the Yes magic kingdom (who knows if the miracle will happen again?), but I swear you to not burn your ears only with the sweet sounds sculpted in the glorious past, and pick up as fast as you can this CD: The 3 Ages Of Magick! Yes, as preposterous as it may sound, I think that Rick Wakeman' son, Oliver, has composed one heck of an album, 13 instrumental songs that match squarely (!) with the gems that Rick offered to us, especially in the early years of his solo career. "Like father, like son" someone used to say a long time ago, and for me it's clear that Oliver has inherited his father's prowess, unravelling in this particular case an hour of uplifting music that will certainly stand the test of time. But now let's go deeper into the album, and also talk about the other star featured on the cover, Mr. Steve Howe, who friendly challenges Oliver whenever possible, shaping some sonic landscapes that will leave the listener mesmerized. "The Enchanter" and "The Forgotten King" are just two of these unparalleled experiences, tunes that take the clock back to the medieval period. However, fascinating atmospheres surround your senses in every track of the album, thanks also to the great work done by Tim Buchanan on bass, Tony Wagstaffe on drums, Tony Dixon on flutes and pipes, and Jo Greenland on violin. But the main character remains Oliver, and he is simply superb in songs such as "Mind Over Matter" or "Flight Of The Condor," where he stands almost all alone on the scene, guiding an overdrive of keyboards right into your mind. Needless to say that, with albums like The 3 Ages Of Magick, the Wakeman' legacy carries on in the best way possible!

Reviewed by: Igor Italiani of Metal-Force, March 2002
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"Classic Rock" Magazine Review - October 2001

As the comparative failure of 'Return to the Centre of the Earth' sadly proves, these days the Wakeman surname doesn't enjoy quite the cachet that it once did. Perhaps if Rick Wakeman's CV had been a little less chequered and he'd eschewed some dodgy TV shows, his two keyboardist sons Oliver and Adam might be trading from a stronger platform.

So, apart from adding some musical colour, it's a shrewd marketing move to have involved Yes guitarist Steve Howe in this purely instrumental project, both as a performer and also in a rather more nebulous executive producer capacity.

Dodgy magic and sorcery theme aside, the 13 tracks here offer plenty of variation, from the restrained atmospheric pieces ('The Forgotten King', 'the Whale's Last Dance') through to some spirited and bombastic playing ('Mind Over Matter', 'Flight of the Condor'), as you might expect.

Howe makes his presence felt sufficiently to justify second billing, and while there's nothing earth-shattering on offer here, the Wakeman legacy appears to be in safe and capable hands.

Nick Shilton

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Amazon.co.uk Customer Review, February 21, 2002

**** (4 Stars)
Solid instrumental effort

This is a nicely done effort by Rick Wakeman's boy Oliver. The music can best be described as modern instrumental progressive music. Oliver has a remarkable compositional ability and an equally keen sense of melody. He collaborates wonderfully with Steve Howe on a number of tracks. Where he is clearly influenced by his father his touch is not as heavy handed as Rick could be on solo efforts. The other musicians compliment the music nicely as well. One can't help but be curious as to how this Wakeman offspring's career will develop as this is a very promising effort. Well recommended...Simon

Reviewer: A music fan from Noho, MA, USA

Many thanks to Amazon.co.uk for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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Amazon.com Customer Review, February 25, 2002

**** (4 Stars)
Brilliant effort!

I must admit that I was drawn to this recording due to the presence of Steve Howe. Where Howe makes some wonderful contributions on a number of cuts this is clearly an Oliver Wakeman project. I am enormously impressed with this young Wakeman's talents. His sense of melody and composition are truly outstanding. Where he is clearly his father's son he has developed his own style and sound. This is a very romantic album that grows on you with each listen (to which I have had many). The music can best be described as being contemporary prog with the occassional subtle celtic influences, The backing musicians (Howe aside) may not be virtuosos but they back him ably. Violinist Jo Greenland is particurly appealing. I found myself wishing she had been given even more air-space as she compliments Wakeman's vision nicely. The rest of the band consists of drums and bass with a flautist who also plays Uillean Pipes. With the exception of the lone weak cut on the album (Through the Eyes of a Child) this is an instrumental album. The above mentioned cut, which is but two minutes long (the album is 59 minutes in length) contains the ramblings of a small child and comes across as a stark distraction from the overall mood and tone of the album.Still, this is an album of great promise and immediate result. I will anticipate future releases by this brilliant young keyboardist with much enthusiasm.... This recording is highly recommended...Simon

Reviewer: A music fan from Noho, MA USA

Many thanks to Amazon.com for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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Amazon.com Customer Review, October 13, 2001

**** (4 Stars)
In The Wakeman Tradition of Excellence

This is my first album by a junior member of the Wakeman family,and I'll confess that the prominent prescence of Steve Howe encouraged my purchase. But after hearing it, I kicked myself for not giving the mighty Rick Wakeman's sons a chance prior to this. Oliver Wakeman has all the talent and imagination of his father,and he seems to avoid the pitfalls that his father would sometimes step into. Oliver sticks to instrumental compositions which not only showcase him,but his talented special guest and his fellow musicians. This album sports several great tunes,that capture many moods--the pastoral 'Lucey and the Mermaid',the sweeping 'Ages of Magick',the bright 'The Storyteller',the melancholy 'The Forgotten King',and the rocking 'The Enchanter',which seems to combine the best elements of two of his father's tunes,'Jane Seymour'(6 Wives of King Henry VIII) and 'Merlin'(Myths and Legends of King Arthur). Oliver's talent is undisputed,and can don the rhinestone cape and carry the Wakeman magic well into the 21st Century;this is the kind of pyrotechnic,'too-many-notes' style of playing that I've missed hearing. Perhaps,if I hadn't been too busy lamenting my inability to find the Senior Wakeman albums 'Criminal Record' and 'Rhapsodies' on CD,I might have discovered Oliver sooner;as it is, I now have new Wakeman music to discover! For those of you who loved the classic Wakeman albums of the '70s, Oliver's 'Magick' will meet,and perhaps surpass your expectations;get this one!

Reviewer: Roger P Day from Reynoldsburg, Ohio United States

Many thanks to Amazon.com for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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Amazon.com Customer Review, October 2, 2001

***** (5 Stars)
You must have this CD

Oliver Wakeman proves himself to be a true composer / musician with the release of The 3 Ages of Magick. If Heaven's Isle and Jabberwocky aren't enough evidence, then this recent release certainly provides proof that Oliver is the "real deal". The 13 tracks offer such a wide variety of styles; progressive, classical, new age, celtic, jazz, funk etc, etc... The keyboards are augmented by Steve Howe's wonderful guitar work; Jo Greenland's fantastic violin - which has a special chemistry with Oliver's keyboards; Tony Dixon on pipes, flutes and whistles, which are quite timely and efffective; Tim Buchanan on bass and Dave Wagstaffe on drums providing exactly what's needed.
You will not be disappointed with this CD!

Reviewer: A music fan from United States

Many thanks to Amazon.com for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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"ProgressiveWorld.net" Review

I always thought that being the child of a famous musician gave a lot of advantages in the music industry, yet looking at people like Julian and Sean Lennon (sons of John), Damien Anderson (son of Jon), Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) and a trillion others, it rather looks like these youngsters have it more difficult than had they been total strangers in the first place. Take Oliver Wakeman. As the oldest of Rick Wakeman's five children, the typical style of Rick can be heard throughout every note this guy plays. Yet despite being "the son of," he doesn't fare at all well in the music industry, even choosing to work part-time at a bank because stepping fulltime in the music jungle seems too big a gamble nowadays! Whilst it was mainly his younger brother Adam who toured with his dad, Oliver released his first solo album called Heaven's Isle in 1997, an all instrumental album inspired by the island of Lundy off the North Devon coast. No fewer than four years later The 3 Ages Of Magick is the next sign of recorded life we get from good old (shouldn't that be "young"?) Oliver Wakeman. Together with none other than the famous Yes-guitarist Steve Howe, Oliver once again shines in all his instrumental glory with a superb album that will certainly appeal to lovers of lush symphonic rock.

Opener "Ages Of Magick" already illustrates the compositional skills of Oliver by almost kicking off with the same atmosphere as his dad's Return To The Centre Of The Earth, although certainly with only a fraction of the budget! The sound of the keyboards is almost identical to Rick's, and add to that the equally distinctive sound of Steve Howe's guitar, and you're in for a real treat. In steps Jo Greenland on violin, adding the classical touch. Towards the end there's a bit of Moog that sounds as if it's lifted and sampled off the great Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, as is the choir which proceeds this section by the way. Based on the way magic has been perceived over the centuries, the rhythm section here is handled by Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq) and Tim Buchanan, adding power where necessary but also keeping it soft when the music dictates it. Feeling at ease in whatever context he plays in, needless to say Oliver has certainly been inspired by his father and probably takes a fancy to the more ballad oriented offerings. Take "The Forgotten King," which sounds like a dialogue between Oliver's piano and Steve's acoustic guitar. If this is how heaven sounds then do count me in!

Blending all different styles into one, Oliver admits that the many pub appearances he did (sounds familiar!) enabled him to tackle all kinds of music, which sooner or later filter through in his own music. A first example is noted in "The Whales Last Dance," which includes Uillean pipes played by Tony Dixon giving it that superb Celtic feel. "Time Between Times" sounds very dramatic and really screams for a real orchestra, whilst the melody played by the piano is of the same calibre as Rick's very own "Birdman Of Alcatraz" quality! "Standing Stones" could even be performed by the Raindance company, once again because of the Celtic influences on flute and violin. Eat your heart out Michael Flatley! One of my favourite tracks on this album certainly has to be "The Enchanter," which begins with superb church organ (not the real McCoy, but close enough, as I'm sure Oliver couldn't afford a new roof on top of the church; something his dad did when he recorded Six Wives!). Oliver tries to rival his dad where speed is concerned, but he can't reach the maximum speed Rick settled for in "Catherine Parr"! The song then changes towards different atmospheres and rhythm changes in exactly the same way as his dad's "Merlin The Magician." As Oliver explains in the liner notes: "Myths and legends have always been my favourite reading material,' so it is no surprise that the music often leads towards the Myths And Legends... material as well. Once again "The Healer" is a very soft melodic piece performed mainly on piano with violin stepping in and muted (synthesized) trumpets adding a stately effect to the composition.

The sound of an upright (almost honky-tonk like) piano opens "Through The Eyes Of A Child," which is exactly as the title suggests. It's a piano based song on top of which a child explains what its perception of magic really is. It's that naïve storyline that is the nucleus of this song, adding its arrangement along the way - simple but effective. The final track "Hy Breasail" kind of includes influences you can find all over the album, yet tucked into one final view. It starts off in a rather bombastic fashion, taking in some of the earlier melodies before and also re-introducing the choir. There's a fair amount of church organ blending nicely with the choir before those glorious Moog sounds let you drift away to imaginary surroundings. Simply magic! But then you hear acoustic guitar, yet played by Oliver on keyboard, so one wonders why Steve couldn't have done this bit as this is the kind of material Howe learns and plays in five minutes flat! It's not that Howe had already left as, he includes kind of a flamenco solo a bit later on. Then Oliver picks up where he left off in order to finish the album with kind of a finale, which doesn't really hold the power to go out with a bang!

This is a fine album for anyone into nice symphonic rock with a fair amount of classical influences; however, I do feel the result might have been even better given the right budget. Some of the orchestral passages would have fared better with a more detailed approach as to how an orchestra really sounds. Listen to Mickey Simmonds' passages on the latest Renaissance album Tuscany or analyze the music by Robert John Godfrey's The Enid and you know what I mean. It certainly illustrates that the Wakeman pedigree has some wonderful surprises in store for us for the future, but here I would have loved to hear more by Steve Howe and certainly some nicer orchestral keyboard sounds. If these points were taken into consideration then we would have had a fantastic album. As it stands now, however, this is a bloody good album!

Reviewed by: John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg, November 2001
To view the original, click here.

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"Mellotron" Magazine Review - September 2001


A very particular union brings us this new work by Rick Wakeman's eldest son. Steve Howe wasn't exactly the one who was closest to the Yes ex-keyboard player, and a musical association outside the band never became anything more than a kind of fiction, maybe authored by someone less informed about Yes.

But the friendship that grew between Oliver and Steve Howe, a result of years of joining his father on tours with Yes and especially in the Union one, allowed this artistic and human collaboration between both families, which becomes tangible in this extraordinary The 3 Ages of Magick. The thirteen compositions belong to Oliver, who released two fantastic albums before; 'Heaven's Isle' and 'Jabberwocky'. And its theme offers plenty of elements for the wide spectrum of sounds used in the album. The work is inspired by the myths and legends, the fables and ancestral beliefs, in the magical thinking as possible reality of the world. Instead of taking only one particular legend, as his father did in Myths and Legends of King Arthur, Oliver wanted to embrace myths as a constant within the cultures. The opening song deals with the beginning of the third age of magic, the first being during the Roman Empire and the second during the Renaissance, as in both some magical thoughts were developed, that would later influence the culture of each era.

And in that first song Oliver and his band offer one of the best moments of the album. With an atmosphere very similar to the song "Arthur" the epic tone and majesty predominates in "Ages of Magick" (that's how the word was written in ancient times), with a surprising entrance by the violin taking the lead melody, before the appearance of the moog, over the strong foundation of Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq) and the excellent bass player Tim Buchanan. This leads us to an electric guitar solo by Steve Howe, of great energy, before the song enters in one of its changing passages with choir at the back. A brilliant piece, one of the most moving in recent years.

This dark tone continues throughout the album, with remarkable moments like "The Storyteller", with a moving solo by Howe, the spectacular "The Enchanter" or the end with "Hy Breasail", a long song with infinite changes in tone and rhythm.

But the whole album possesses an enormous beauty, as many sections find Wakeman at the piano or synthesizer playing brilliant solos, same as Steve Howe with his acoustic guitar.

The resources of the sound of the album doesn't end there, and the use of pipes, flutes, whistles and violins gives a celtic tone that puts in evidence the original intention of Wakeman to create an album based exclusively in that culture.

Oliver has produced a very well-crafted album, taking us back to the first works of his father as solo artist. And Howe shows himself as comfortable and fluid as few times before (maybe in Transportation, with Billy Currie?), which is always a great thing. This combination has good chemistry, and in many instances, "magic". We just hope that this is just the beginning of fruitful work together.

Andres Valle
Mellotron magazine

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"Wondrous Stories" Magazine Review - July 2001

Oliver Wakeman with Steve Howe - The 3 Ages of Magick

On a personal note it really is good to hear another Oliver Wakeman solo album released, more so because of the confidence Steve Howe has shown in him to become a bit more than just a guest on a solo album. The opener 'Ages of Magick' immediately highlights the way the Wakeman keyboards and the Howe guitar mould together in such a way that you could imagine that they have been working together for years. That opening - almost six minute - track has so much magic injected into it, soaring keyboards and guitar breaks that a progressive rock fan will immediately feel at home. Steve Howe appears on all but two tracks where the sound is very much that of a band effort and not a keyboard led charge in to eternity, something Oliver was keen to achieve.

Percussion, bass and assorted instrumental input all add depth to some bright, breezy and moody pieces where the odd sampled voices mix well. Moods are very much part of this music and after a somewhat pacey beginning the third track, 'The Forgotten King' slows down to allow Oliver and Steve to co-lead on acoustic piano and a customary acoustic guitar respectively; the blend is oh so natural. 'The Storyteller' has a true story behind it and begins with beautiful female voices, orchestral sounds and Howe again lead acoustically before keyboard technology leads again. 'The Whales Last Dance' tells a tale of a beached whale where sampled whale call adds to the realism after the classical piano, beautiful whistles and flute all help to tell a sad musical tale. Those extra instruments really do come into their own from this track onwards none more so than with the violin of Jo Greenwood who deserves special mention since her input juxtaposes so well aside all else here.

This album is as charming as it is graceful and as climactic as it is gentle. Oliver really has brought it all together well and even though comparisons are easy with his famous father the listener should be prepared to appreciate a musician who has done it his way while still being open to suggestion. The album deserves a special place on every prog-rock fans shelf.

Martin Hudson

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"Record Collector" Magazine Review - September 2001

Eldest son of the legendary Yes keyboardist, Rick, and unsurprisingly, something of a virtuoso on the ivories himself, Oliver's new 13 track opus features Yes guitarist Steve Howe. And a fine job of work they've done.

Wakeman junior mixes his deft, dreamy synthscapes with solid rhythm section accompaniment and ethereal female vocals on the opening 'Ages of Magick', while Uillean pipes bring to mind his previous Heaven's Isle on 'The Whales Last Dance'.

The mix of traditional and synthetic also works admirably on the airy, acoustic laden 'The Storyteller', and the sea-swell of 'Time Between Times' is captivating.

Other fine tunes feature rolling piano passages, minster organ tones ('The Enchanter', including vaudevillian touches a la Wakeman Senior) and the pastoral perkiness of 'The Healer'. A fine set.

Tim Jones - Record Collector

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"more than music" E-zine Review

Oliver Wakeman - The 3 Ages of Magick

To listen to Oliver Wakeman is as close you can get listening to Rick Wakeman. Is that strange? No, since both Oliver and Adam (brothers) have probably been taught very well during their childhood in the art of playing piano, organ, keyboards and more. When hearing this album I must also standt tight to the fact that another common thing between the Wakemans is the sound of chivalry. Rick Wakeman has made tons of albums with stories around the old middle ages and chivalry, and it seems like Oliver "sounds" the same. This album is about "the unexplained", myths and legends which suits the music pretty good if you ask me.

The guitars of this album are done by the mighty Steve Howe, which we normally are used playing with Yes of course. Even though there are loads of keyboards on this piece of music, and not really much space opened up for guitars you can tell that it's Howe playing. These few moments are really cool, since they are often recycled with the keyboards from Oliver. So, you could easily say that these two gentlemen fit each other pretty good.

In most songs, but especially "The Storyteller" I hear the classical influences. In the end there's even a line which I think everyone will recognize hearing it. In the follow up "The Whales Last Dance" for instance there's this typical Wakeman symphonic attribute, a grand emotion envolved. Tender piano characteristics lifts this album higher than the standards, since Oliver is really interesting listening to.

Another great sound added to this album are the violins, which are played by Jo Greenland. She's responsible for some of the lead melodies then of course, often spiced up with keyboards. No doubt aobut it that the Wakeman blood will keep on running for at least another generation onward. The symphonic keyboards is something we'll never get rid of! :)
1. Ages of Magick
2. Mind Over Matter
3. The Forgotten King
4. The Storyteller
5. The Whales Last Dance
6. Time Between Times
7. Flight of the Condor
8. Lutey and the Mermaid
9. Standing Stones
10. The Enchanter
11. The Healer
12. Through the Eyes of a Child
13. Hy Breasail

Magnus Florin

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"All-Music Guide" Website Review

Oliver Wakeman with Steve Howe - The 3 Ages of Magick

It seems this album has been tailored for fans of Yes and particularly of its colorful keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The latter's son Oliver is at the helm of this project which shares thematic similarities with dad's "Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table". Granted, there is something unfair about comparing Oliver Wakeman's music with his father's, but who could do otherwise? Everything he knows about music he learned from his father. He plays the piano, the organ, even the mini-Moog like him, using the same kind of phrasing, conveying the same conception of romanticism. And the fact that he recruited guitarist Steve Howe to grace half of the tracks on 'The 3 Ages of Magick' will make any Yes fan feel at home. The opening track 'Ages of Magick' could belong to any of Rick Wakeman's first three solo LPs -- the same goes for 'Flight of the Condor' and 'The Enchanter'. Oliver Wakeman does have his own style, expressed in other tracks. It generally belongs more to new-agey instrumental synth rock than progressive rock (something in the vein of Bjorn Lynne's fantasy music albums). Howe delivers good (although not particularly inspired) performances. The supporting cast also makes a difference, especially Tony Dixon (flute, Uilleann pipe) and Jo Greenland (violin) who give the CD a slightly Nordic flavor that fits the topic. 'The 3 Ages of Magick' is a nice production overall that underlines Oliver Wakeman's lineage.

Francois Couture Writer/journalist specialized in demanding music
Writer for the All-Music Guide Producer of Delire Actuel, CFLX.
Visit the All-Music Guide at http://www.allmusic.com

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Submitted review

"A truly amazing work. I have been a fan of Rick, Adam, Yes and progressive in genreral. Even though it now takes a bit of work to find the good stuff, it is comforting to know that it is still out there. My thanks to you, Oliver and all for a wonderful piece of music." - Pete Swank

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Submitted review

The 3 Ages of Magick

Oliver Wakeman's third release is an attempt to capture the spirit of the 3 ages of magick, in the form of music. The 3 ages are the time of the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, and the current time. This instrumental album also covers many ages of music, it does not remain stagnated within one style or era. In my opinion, Oliver greatly exceeds my expectations, and this album is destined to be a classic. It clearly provides notice to all that hear it that Oliver is for real and that he has the passion and patience to create such an emotive piece of art.

Oliver is excellently backed by Steve Howe on guitars; Tony Dixon on flutes, pipes and whistles; Jo Greenland on violin; Tim Buchanan on bass guitars; and Dave Wagstaffe on drums and percussion. It's a great group of musicians and it seems as if they are guided by the spirit [ or magic ] of the music they are playing.

The first track, Ages of Magick - Serves as a summary of what is to come on the rest of the album. It is a symphony of sounds, tempos, color. It does capture the essence of magick, perhaps you can see it as an opening overture.

Track 2, Mind over Matter - Could be described as an upbeat progressive song with a touch of insanity. It attacks, almost casting some kind of spell upon the listener. Who is Dr Kravitz? (-:

Track 3, The Forgotten King - Is more relaxed than the previous track. It is a combination of nice piano, soft guitar, with a tone that almost seems sad. The song is very pleasant and enjoyable.

Track 4, The Storyteller - Opens with gregorian style chants - reminding me of druids or something. The mystical feel is generated by Olivers soft and delicate keyboards and Steve's gentle guitar. Everything progresses to a very dynamic intensity, then settles back to the milder pace and feeling. The electric and acoustic guitars sound really nice here.

Track 5, The Whales Last Dance - Truly a wonderful track, one of my favorites from this album. It starts as a nice piano based song, then the pipes and whistles come in, giving it a Celtic feel. I sense a lot of emotion in this track from Oliver. Near the end, the Whale sings and Oliver plays along on piano, perhaps talking back to the whale?

Track 6, Time Between Times - This song has a sense of something sacred. Oliver plays a simply beautiful piano, then joined by Jo's violin, "crying" at times - marvellous!!. They are a like a pair destined to play together. The song's spirit seems to be of someone searching for their soul.

Track 7, Flight of the Condor - Takes you out into the wilderness, with the spirits of ancient Macchu Picchu crying out. It then changes style to that of a modern new age, which then transitions into a modern progressive rock style, which is awesome! The song revisits the wilderness, alternating and blending different styles throughout the rest of the song.

Track 8, Lutey and the Mermaid - Oliver's solo piano piece, seemingly very much in touch with nature. The piano here is happy and warm, and perhaps you could call it "light classical". A wonderful piece!

Track 9, Standing Stones - Wonderful masterpiece, breathtaking beauty! Piano, flutes, whistles, pipes. Delicate Celtic style, a touch of the ancient, a touch of the modern.... Perhaps my favorite track!

Track 10, The Enchanter - The opening is like some intense 21st century Bach organ work. Then it transitions to a progressive "rock fest"; then it lulls us into a spell, relaxing us with a soft section. It returns to the progressive rock attitude, mesmorizing us with sizzling, searing synthesizers. Then it goes into a funk that I can only describe being in the style of the Cantina band from Star Wars [ a time before the first age of Magick (-: ] It concludes with a strong progressive rock finale.

Track 11, The Healer - A nice piano based piece which progresses gently with some synth, strings, and horns coming in after Oliver's nice intro. The healer seems to be reassuring us, saying it's OK to erase your fears, everything will be all right.

Track 12, Through the Eyes of a Child - The shortest piece, but perhaps the best? It begins with an old upright piano, with the player walking away, to the modern piano. The music has a serious, but innocent mood. A young boy talks, telling Oliver what Magick means to him, through the eyes of a child. Jo's violin joins in with Oliver, and again it's a wonderful duet! Together their playing is magick!

Track 13, Hy Breasail - A summary of the 3 Ages of Magick, utilizing the different styles appropriate to the respective ages. There's progressive, renaissance, classical, you name it. It keeps changing styles and instruments, it keeps you guessing what is coming next. Steve has a nice classical guitar spot. It's the longest track, at over 8 minutes.

Do yourself a favor and buy this album. The 3 Ages of Magick will be a great addition to your collection. It contains a wide variety of musical styles woven together so well. Oliver really proves himself [again] to be a legitimate composer and musician with this project. Thank you, Oliver!

Bruce Treadwell - August 18, 2001

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"New Horizons" Review

Used with the kind permission of New Horizons, from their extensive on-line music resource. To view the original, click here.


Tracklist: Ages of Magick (5.48); Mind Over Matter (4.02); The Forgotten King (3.02); The Storyteller (3.42); The Whale's Last Dance (4.30); Time Between Times (5.03); Flight of the Condor (4.48); Lutey and the Mermaid (3.02); Standing Stones (4.31); The Enchanter (6.04); The Healer (4.18); Through the Eyes of a Child (2.13); Hy Breasail (8.38)

Oliver Wakeman's first solo CD, 'Heaven's Isle', showed him to be a talented composer and performer, but its relaxed style is very different indeed to Oliver's latest offering, 'The 3 Ages of Magick'.

Once again we are presented with a solely instrumental work, but this time Oliver treats the listener to a far wider range of keyboard styles, ranging from complex keyboard sections to gentle piano pieces. The sources of inspiration are also far wider reaching as Oliver draws on influences from rock, folk and classical music.

The album features a strong cast of supporting musicians which includes some names which will be well known to many progressive rock fans: Steve Howe on acoustic and electric guitars; Dave Wagstaffe - drums and percussion; bassist Tim Buchanan; Tony Dixon - Uillean Pipes, whistles and flutes; and Jo Greenland on violin.

The idea behind the title came from a book Oliver read about the supernatural, with a paragraph that began with the words "We live in the third great age of magic in the West..." and which goes on to explain that the first of these ages was in the time of the Roman Empire, the second the Renaissance, and the third is the age in which we now live!

The opening track, 'Ages of Magick', is an uplifting symphonic rock composition. It features soaring keyboard solos and sweeping guitar play, set against a strong orchestral arrangement with a good percussive backdrop. Not far into the track the pace changes and the opening motif is replaced by a more subdued passage dominated by the violin and heavenly choir. The pace then slows down even further and it's not long before a tinkling piano theme plays in over the percussion and mellotron. Gradually the pace starts to build once again and, to close the track, there is a stirring reprise of the opening theme finishing on a real high!

'Mind Over Matter' follows a very different line being much closer to pop rock. It starts with a rolling bass line and urgent percussive beat, with siren-like keyboard sounds over the top. Hospital style announcements cut into the second half of the track, while slower paced piano work, with an almost jazz like quality, is interspersed with faster paced keyboard runs.

Changing the style once again, 'The Forgotten King' begins with beautifully played, sad, slow-tempo piano which is soon joined by Steve Howe's superbly restrained acoustic guitar work. The two parts are marvellously intertwined and yet, even when the pace picks up a little, the mood of the piece is not broken ... classic stuff!

'The Storyteller' opens softly with gentle percussion and mellotron. Once again I have to say that the guitar work here is outstanding and works well against with the instrumental backing, occasionally jostling for the lead against the keyboard solo. Although initially the acoustic is favoured, around the mid point there is a sudden switch to the electric guitar which cries out in a melancholic fashion, before giving way to a further acoustic guitar section, and the strong rhythmic foundation complements the instrumental work without interferinge with the developing themes. There is a good build up throughout the track but perhaps the fading finish with tubular bells is a tiny bit premature in that it teasingly leaves you wanting more!

'The Whale's Last Dance' shows yet another style, with a strong Celtic edge to the music provided by Tony Dixons's whistles and flutes. These are, for the most part, set against strong piano playing while the occasional dramatic orchestral outbursts from the keyboards add a sense of drama without ever threatening to swamp the easy flowing melodies being played out. The whale song at the end of the track combined with the gentle piano work and acoustic guitar provides a very nice finishing touch.

There is a darker, other worldly quality to 'Time Between Times', which opens with the mellotron very much in evidence - first providing deep bass tones but then switching to a lighter and more feminine sound. Over this, a lighter melody is played out on the piano, which soon moves aside to provide a supporting role to Jo Greenland's emotive violin work. Further keyboard effects provide a floating, almost ethereal backdrop for more violin and piano work. There is a slow but steady increase of tension as the track develops; the orchestration becomes more evident and the percussion comes in, but then, quite suddenly, the pressure is lifted, and the piece closes with a soft, lightly played piano theme.

'Flight of the Condor' draws on many elements to paint a musical picture that soars and glides, in keeping with the subject. The opening theme, which plays the track in, is probably typical of the way many of us regard the music of the Andes, but this is only one facet of a track that contains a multitude of dynamic keyboard sections and driving percussion.

One of my favourite tracks on this album has to be 'Lutey and the Mermaid', which is one of the pieces Oliver played at the album launch - and I have to say that here it is every bit as stunning as I remember it being live. The track is a beautifully executed piano solo; sometimes fast moving, at other times slow and gentle, but always flowing easily and bringing a calming influence to the listener. This is a real gem and an absolute must for anyone who likes to hear the piano!

With 'Standing Stones' we are back, once more, into the realms of the electronic keyboard. This is another piece with a strong Celtic air, but this time the whistles alternate with the Uillean pipes to deliver the main melody while the keyboards provide a slightly dark and almost sinister backing. Brighter piano runs provide some nice contrasts, while a good bass line provides a strong sense of rhythm. Towards the end a lively theme on the whistle drives things along, soon joined by the pipes which provide a strong counter melody.

Another favourite of mine is 'The Enchanter'. This opens with a powerful church organ sound, which is inspiring to listen to and provides an almost classical feel. After the first minute or so the drums power in and the pace really picks up, with a punchy bass line providing a further lift. The mood then settles and a haunting guitar line runs against the quieter keyboard section; after this the organ sound returns and the pace really hots up with some vibrant, pacey keyboard runs. Throughout the track the guitar and keyboard seem to be in competition for the listener's attention and some very inventive playing emerges in the process; sometimes quirky, sometimes humorous, but always full of feeling.

'The Healer' starts with a superb solo piano section but this incorporates some really splendid orchestration as it moves along. Violin is brought in to good effect, and the combination of this and the horn-like effects from the keyboards really create an uplifting feel to the entire piece.

The shortest track on the album, 'Through the Eyes of a Child', is a piano oriented piece opening with a short musical intro, the sound of footsteps and a door swinging shut ... good stereo effects here. The piano theme starts up again and is overlaid with a short spoken part by Joseph Craddick (the son of one of the sound engineers at Goodmerry Farm studios) providing the child's insight. Violin provides an accompaniment to the final piano section before the music stops for the last time as we hear the child's voice once again. This may seem a little twee to some, but it will certainly raise a smile in anyone who has children of their own and who will almost certainly understand what this one is all about.

The final track on the album, 'Hy Breasail', is also the longest, and it incorporates some 'Phantom of the Opera' style keyboard playing. The track is full of changes however and, just as you think you know where it's leading, it heads off in another direction. One of the highlights here is Steve Howe's spanish guitar playing which provides a delicate contrast to some of the richer textures to be found in other parts of the track.

'The 3 Ages of Magick' is one of those albums where you are constantly discovering things you missed the last time through, and I continue to be impressed by it. Oliver has pulled together a superb group of musicians to deliver a well thought out album that should delight a wide variety of audiences. Progressive rock, orchestral arrangements, classical influences and superb guitar and keyboard work are just some of the reasons that should persuade you to listen to it. For me, this album is a real masterpiece that proves Oliver's credentials without a doubt ... it comes highly recommended!

Simon 18th July 2001

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