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Vangelis - Albedo 0.39 CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 210 ratings

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4 stars Vangelis is a musician whose work I've long admired. His work on movie themes have lead to some intensely memorable moments. I was also thoroughly impressed when I picked up my first full Vangelis album, Heaven and Hell a little while back. In my recent, primarily electronic, musical sampling I decided to augment collection with another Vangelis effort, this time the equally impressive Albedo 0.39.

Albedo's general sound is pretty much exactly what westerners have come to think of when it comes to the music of outers pace. The pulsating "futuristic" electronic tones and washes are a lot like his German contemporaries of the electronic genre Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. But Vangelis is no German. While I feel he lacks some of their precision, ever the firey Greek, Vangelis wields his music in a way the sterility of the Berlin sound could never allow for. Until you've heard a Vangelis album, I really don't think you can get a proper sense for the way electronic music can convey emotion. The mood on Albedo ranges very widely much like it did on Heaven and Hell. It goes from heroic and driving on tracks like Pulstar and Alpha to the serene Freefall and title track to the intense and foreboding Mare Tranquilitatis and finally the explosive like Main Sequence and Nucleogenisis Part 1. This nowhere near approximates the track order on Albedo, so needless to say it's a bit of a roller coaster.

I think overall, from Heaven and Hell to Albedo 0.39, Vangelis improved the quality and consistency of his work. In the process though, I think he was forced to sacrifice a little of his wild side. So while Albedo lacks the exquisite jubilation Movement 3 and the jarring rawness of Needles and Bones, it also lacks the drudgery of the largely less stellar Hell side of Heaven and Hell. That isn't to say Albedo isn't without its moments however. The album's energy peaks towards the end on the driving Nucleogenisis suite which breaks up into some familiar heavenly adulation. But the emotionality doesn't quite peak until the strikingly genuine title track.

Albedo 0.39 the song is the only track on the album I'll take individually. On the first listen it might appear really cold for me to call Albedo 0.39 genuine and emotional. All it is, is a British man reciting technical facts about Earth and its orbital characteristics put to some light synth. But right from the first moment I heard it, I found it to be one of the most honest songs about our pale blue dot. Albedo captures all of Earth's vastness equally as well as it does its solitude and fragility in one package. The eponymous line is recites a triviality about the amount of sunlight the earth reflects but that triviality along with the others is what makes our existence possible. I am completely unsurprised as to why it is the title track. It's a love letter hidden in a technical read-out.

Vangelis takes an equally remarkable turn on the physical with Albedo 0.39 as he did with the metaphysical the album before. It will drag in a few places, but its energy, emotion and creativity more than make up for those few doldrums. Vangelis is something of an acquired taste, so I don't expect most other listeners to be quite as taken with this album as I am. But if your tastes are adventurous and you are looking for something unique I suggest you take Albedo 0.39 on. Final score 4 out of 5.

R-A-N-M-A | 4/5 |


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