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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Vangelis - 1976 Albedo 0.39
Vangelis - 1976 Albedo 0.39

ARTIST: Vangelis
ALBUM: Albedo 0.39
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1989, RCA (UK), ND74208 * 2006, BMG (Japan), BVCM-37679


LINEUP: Vangelis - all instruments

TRACK LISTING: 01 Pulstar * 02 Freefall * 03 Mare Tranquillitatis * 04 Main Sequence * 05 Sword Of Orion * 06 Alpha * 07 Nucleogenesis (Part One) * 08 Nucleogenesis (Part Two) * 09 Albedo 0.39


Well known to aficionados of atmospheric keyboard epics is Greek artist Vangelis, real name Evanghelos Odyssey Papathanassiou, who is of course known mostly for his famous 'Chariots Of Fire' soundtrack score in 1981. Vangelis began performing at a young age, and in the 60's was part of several Greek rock outfits before embarking on a solo career which saw him begin experimenting with synthesizers heavily in the early 70's. Gradually Vangelis' music centered on the instrument, resulting in a series of eclectic albums including 1975's 'Heaven And Hell', based on, well I think you get it! Following this a year later was the sci-fi themed 'Albedo 0.39', recognized to this day as one of Vangelis' most consistent efforts.

The Songs
The subject matter of 'Albedo' is confusing to the casual observer, supposedly revolving around the mysteries of the cosmos and all manner of scientific matter which Vangelis' attempts to portray musically. The music does this successfully, with some of the most potent and effective progressive synthesizer epics of the decade. Vangelis' captures the ambience of space with an onslaught of freaky instrumentals, all dominated by parping synths, opening with 'Pulstar', which is a well remembered track and layered beyond belief with keyboard upon keyboard. 'Freefall' swirls mysteriously, with grace and elegance, in direct contrast to the almost frightening 'Main Sequence', a menacing piece heavy on organs and space effects which were probably state of the art for 1976. Rarely do keyboard solos have such atmosphere as this. At 8 minutes it is lengthy, but with a series of twists that beg continued listening. 'Alpha' takes time building into another dramatic instrumental, sounding like the theme to a 70's sporting event and very similar to what The Alan Parsons Project would undertake a year later with the classic 'I Robot'. 'Nucleogenesis (Pt 1 and 2)' is another solar based nightmare, keyboards thrusting relentlessly and often very heavily also. The title track features vocals for the first time albeit spoken, and reciting mathematical theories of space, which combined with more dreamy space rock, makes for very avant-garde listening.

In Summary
I recall trying to review this several years back only to be intimidated by the albums concept, which realistically isn't that important considering there are numerous sources explaining it elsewhere on the web. The keyboard virtuosity is the mainstay of 'Albedo', and for 1976 this must have pushed the boundaries of what one genius could do with the grand synthesizer within the progressive music world. In 2008 it might sound like a relic to the casual observer, but this is the 70's at its most challenging musically and sonically. Hard to believe this is the work of one man.

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#1 | Eric on April 10 2008 13:21:21
Really nice to see this reviewed here- a fine album and one of his best. I also like his work with Aphroditie's Child and the '666' album and the 'Odes' record with Greek vocalist Irene Papas.
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