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Vangelis - Albedo 0.39 CD (album) cover

ALBEDO 0.39

Vangelis

 

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3.68 | 176 ratings

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4 stars Albedo 0.39 is an instrumental concept album whose theme is space exploration. I would describe it as half electronic-jazz-classical fusion, half straightforward electronica.

Pulstar is a classic Vangelis track. As the title suggests, it uses a pulsing sequencer pattern. Vangelis uses his trademark synth brass for playing the main riff. The title seems to be a play on the word 'pulsar'.

Freefall is a peaceful track that uses a Indonesian gamelan tune as its base and a flute-like lead instrument. Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), named after the Apollo 11 landing site, is a short ambient track that includes excerpts from several Apollo missions.

Main Sequence is probably best described as lively jazz fusion played on synths (especially brass synths) and drums. It's a chaotic piece and uses a lot of staccato. It's named after main sequence stars, also known as dwarf stars.

Sword of Orion is another short track, with a dreamy and wistful mood. I wish it would have been longer. The instrumentation is sparse, but effective: synth pads, a synth brass melody line and some accompanying piano and chimes. It makes me think of the famous Pale Blue Dot picture, taken by the Voyager probe in 1990 and showing the Earth suspended in the blackness of space.

Alpha is the album's highlight. Similarly to Oldfield, Vangelis builds on a simple melody, layering more and more instruments and culminating in a bombastic climax.

Nucleogenesis (Part One) starts with an unaccompanied church organ, then transitions to a sequencer section with occasional drums and percussion.

Nucleogenesis (Part Two) is more jazzy and features drums as well. For some reason it reminds me of the second half of Pink Floyd's One of These Days. The end of the track is mellow and symphonic.

The term nucleogenesis, also known as nucleosynthesis, refers to the fusion of protons and neutrons into atomic nuclei.

The title track closes the album. It is an ambient track and recording engineer Keith Spencer-Allen recites a variety of the Earth's astronomic measurements. For some reason he uses miles rather than kilometers, which are generally used in scientific measurements. I suppose it was because metrification started only a few years earlier in the United Kingdom, where the album was recorded.

I recommend this album to those who dismiss Vangelis as a new age musician, as it is one of his most progressive ones. Indeed, he even rehearsed with Yes for a few weeks after Wakeman's departure. The band found him too experimental and he also insisted on playing drums (this album shows he was a competent drummer). My favorite tracks are Alpha and Pulstar, to which I sometimes listen as standalone songs or mixes. These two are the Albedo 0.39 tracks mostly frequently included on Vangelis compilation albums.

Replayer | 4/5 |

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