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Aphrodite's Child - 666 CD (album) cover

666

Aphrodite's Child

 

Symphonic Prog

3.91 | 425 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Psych-Folk of the Beast

Last and most ambitious album of APHRODITE'S CHILD, "666" is really an unidentified musical object. Judge by yourself: first of all, it comes from Greece. There are not many important Greek progressive rock opus from the classical 70's decade. Second, despite what its title may suggest, the music is neither heavy metal nor violent, but rather a heterogeneous mixture of mystical, psychedelic / space rock with Greek folklore, jazz and even early electronics! Not really easy to describe. Third, as you probably understood, the band abandons the psych-pop short songs format of the 60's to turn more progressive and esoteric. Finally, this record will be the last from the Greeks, as the line-up was pursuing different objectives. Vangelis wanted to explore unknown spacey musical landscapes, "666" being mainly his baby, whereas Demis Roussos will move towards romantic pop songs. These artistic divergences will unavoidably lead to the split of APHRODITE'S CHILD.

Concerning the curious minimalistic cover, it simply represents a car registration plate.

Now, let's see what this beast is made of.

Disc 1 alternates structured tracks and ambient narration interludes. "The System" is just a short a short spoken opening for the energetic pop rock "Babylon". Despite its title, "Loud, Loud, Loud" is a calm piano narration, followed by the most known passage of the album, "The Four Horsemen". A delicate psychedelic and ethereal song with a crystalline voice. Unique! But now the strangeness really begins. "The Lamb" can be described as a... trippy nervous Greek folk-rock? The slow mystical narration "The Seventh Seal" introduces another little gem, the floydian "Aegian Sea". This aquatic instrumental is just magic, perfect for relaxation. Furthermore, if you listen carefully, you can hear at the end a mesmerizing synthesizer gimmick that will be reused by Jean-Michel Jarre 4 years later in "Oxygne". The spoken ambient "Seven Bowls" and experimental "The Wakening Beast" interludes lead to the incantatory ethnic "Lament", that possesses a slight middle-eastern feel. It abruptly mutates into the more lively but still mystical "The Marching Beast" and its modal jazz touch. In contrast, "The Battle Of The Locusts" and "Do It" are more conventional hard psych rock tracks. Don't worry, surprise comes back with the pure free-jazz "Tribulation". Fun, although quite out of place. The only weak passage of this disc is in fact "The Beast", a little irritating soft rock song. The first part concludes with the shortest track, the odd spoken "Ofis".

Disc 2 is bit more experimental and improvisational. The bizarre narration "Seven Trumpets" introduces the cool psych jazz-rock "Altamont". Then comes "The Wedding Of The Lamb", one of the best tracks. It's not everyday that you hear a mystical ethnic folk with electronic sonorities! Very nice! The tribal spacey "The Capture Of The Beast" continues the dream. Unfortunately appears the ridiculous and disturbing "Infinity", featuring Greek actress Irne Papas at orgasm simulation. "Hic Et Nunc" resembles 60's Londonian psych rock. Enjoyable, but less astonishing than the three first tracks of the disc. The longest track of the album is "All The Seats Were Occupied". These 19 minutes are a sort of mixture of electronics and space rock jam over which are superposed some extracts of the record. For instance, "Ofis" is repeated 3 times, as it only lasts 17 seconds. Fun fact: the opening shares similitudes with TANGERINE DREAM's "Alpha Centauri" and "Atem"! Pleasant, although a bit messy at times. The ender, "Break", is a soft piano song, a little cheesy.

Original, innovative, creative are one of the few words that comes to mind when talking about this nearly indescribable progressive beast. A little lack of coherency, spoken interludes and a few weaker passages are the only negative points that can be found on this unique double-album. Few artists were able to offer such musical variety at the time and unite opposite genres such as rock, folklore, electronics and jazz. "666" may well be one of the first examples of the so-called "World Music". AMON DL II's "Yeti" is based on a comparable mixture of styles, but the trip is however different.

Nevertheless, more than just experimental fusion, the compositions often manage to be very good and groundbreaking. "666" was in fact recorded in 1970 and released 2 years later due to disagreements with the label. Some of the multiple ideas spread all over the record are ahead of their time. After all, you're listening to psych- folk-rock crafted by a future pioneer of electronic music. In case you're wondering, it does neither resemble VANGELIS's solo material nor the band's previous pop songs (nor Demis Roussos'...), nor hardly anything else.

APHRODITE'S CHILD's best and most ambitious album, an unique Greek temple of mysterious and mystical prog! Encountering this Beast is essential for psychedelic / space rock fans, or if you want something original.

Modrigue | 4/5 |

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