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Vangelis - The Dragon CD (album) cover

THE DRAGON

Vangelis

 

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3.71 | 59 ratings

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Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
5 stars Firebreathing Lizard

Forgive me now, because this will be a very biased review. This was my second Vangelis album, which I bought some 7 or 8 years ago along with the Conquest of Paradise soundtrack, and for unknown reasons it still remains my favourite release from him. I´d just watched the Ridley Scott movie about Cristopher Colombus and felt the music was fascinating, huge and adding to the overall scope of the thing - a magical touch. I was however completely baffled by this monster, and it left me wondering if it indeed was made by the same artist. The resemblance between the two albums is comparable to that of a growling German Shepard and big box of lip-balm.

David Bowie has always been called a musical "chameleon", but I honestly do believe that Vangelis is more deserving of that accolade. I mean the guy has made records with all kinds of different influences: Jazz, electronic, symphonic, avant and psychedelic - all of them orchestrated by his highly unique way of knitting melodies and structures together. The Dragon though is a wonderful Krautrock album as much as that sounds preposterous, feverish, misguided, full of bs, insane and totally bonkers - yep, this is Krautrock...

The first and self-titled cut is an astonishing eastern journey with drawn out swaying bouncing music, that paints a picture of a Persian bazaar experienced through flickering mental dreamlike curtains. A demented insisting and slightly menacing violin slices its way through a thicket of fuzzed out snuffling drumming, a bass that mimics a subsonic bleating lamb, psychedelic mantra inducing guitars and an intricate woven carpet-like keys utilization by the man himself, and bam! the music is thick like gravy and hypnotic like watching a mosquito buzzing around in perfect squares. I often think of Swedish psych/kraut band Älgarnes Trädgård, when I listen to this track. There´s a similar psychedelic folk sauce going on here, and I simply adore it.

Second fire-breathing lizard is a more subtle and calm piece, and I think the album benefits from the rather long piano driven prologue, which covers your open wounds, ripped up by the preceding cosmic onslaught, with a soothing bandage conveyed in musical bliss. When the gentle guitar joins in, it feels like an ice-cream you´ve been holding in your sun-baked hand for far too long, -uneventfully and gently melting down your fingers. I love this track and again there´s traces of the more mellow side of Krautrock, and I´d happily play this to a small bird without the fear of getting piipped at too much.

Vangelis decides to end The Dragon with a ferocious adventure in psychedelic tinged fusion, that reminds me of the Dadaist Kraut-jazzers Exmagma and their more robust and elephant-like musical facets. Although it starts out like a folkish tune with skewed acoustic guitar, it segues into some wild n´ frenzy fusion with Vangelis playing some of the best electric piano I´ve heard from the man - often recalling the great Herbie Hancock. It´s truly the bouncing back and forth between these two textures that makes this track. See-saw whoohi - up and down from side to side, and back again! Just remember that seatbelt and you´re in for a terrific ride.

Like I started out saying, this is a highly biased review, and largely down to my uncontrolled love of psychedelic music, but mostly because The Dragon was my starting point in Vangelis´ enormous discography. Looking back now, after some 12 purchased records, I still feel this is his crowning achievement, even though he probably thinks of it like he thinks of chlamydia: irritating and there, but you´ve nearly forgotten about it...

Beautiful and treacherous like a towering black waxed dragon in lederhosen.

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |

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