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Aphrodite's Child - 666 CD (album) cover

666

Aphrodite's Child

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 270 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars I couldn't have chosen a different album for my review number 666.

This very complex album which takes the concept from the New Testament's Apocalypse sees the last act of Aphrodite's Child, just after Vangelis had started his solo career. It sees also a lot of guest appearances, one for all the actress Irene Papas who will later record two albums with the keyboardist. Who is not familiar with this very early progressive band may think that the title has something to do with metal or Satanism.

Totally wrong. This is a metaphoric view of the late 60s western society.

The first 24 seconds with people repeating "We fight the system" are a clear reference to the French '68 (The band was actually there) and also the Vangelis early release "Fais Que Ton Reve Soit Plus Long Que La Nuit" contains excerpts from demonstrations and barricades.

"Babylon" is a symbol. For Rastamen is a synonym of cops, but if we think to the Bible, this is the city where the languages are mixed by God because of the attempt to reach the sky by building a tower. It's one of the many "sin cities"" of the ancient Testament. For AC is a catchy beat song (including Sgt Peppers like brasses and false live public). Please give an ear to Demis Roussos at the bass as he's always remembered for his falsetto voice only.

"Loud, Loud, Loud" starts with piano than a speaking woman that should be Irene Papas, but it doesn't seem her voice to me. She speaks of city walls falling down "loud". Listen to Patti Smith's "Birdland" it's exactly the same song with different lyrics.

"The Four Horsemen" is the most famous song from this album, the first on which Demis shows his high pitch on a carpet of thin sounds provided by Vangelis. Something similar will appear on the Blade Runner's OST. The chorus is rock with a touch of psychedelia. A great song full of atmosphere with a nice but quite standardized guitar solo at the end.

"The Lamb" is Jesus in the Christian symbology. A very unusual signature opens this song. Vangelis shows here some keyboardist's skill. He was not used to play so fast in his solo albums, but on this song he demonstrates that he can. One of the most psychedelic moments of the album specially in the second half when keyboards and guitar sound very floydian because of the oriental melodies in Rick Wright's style.

"The Seventh Seal" is what the Lamb (Jesus) opens last and starts the Apocalypse. This is one of the most dramatic episodes of the bible and this one minute track is very calm instead with a man voice reciting the Biblic passage.

"Aegian Sea" Is the Sea which wets the Greek coasts. If you consider that the band was exiled in France because of the "Colonels" dictatorship this instrumental acquires a particular taste. There's an electronic base with a blues guitar and a voice repeating "there's no more suffer for hunger, there's no more suffer for thirst".

"Seven Bowls" is made of bell sounds and a choir in Greek Theathre style speaking of the incoming apocalypse...."the sea turns black, the river turns red...".

"The Wakening Beast" follows without solution of continuity. The same bells as before and noises that should transmit the idea of something coming slightly, more than a wakening it gives me the impression of a birth.

"Lament" has a folk flavor. A dirge on deadly bells in a typical Greek style or at least it seems to me. It's a very emotionally intense moment.

Now the apocalypse is started. "The Marching Beast" comes on. It starts as a rock song. The imprinting of Vangelis is clear to those who know Vangelis solo efforts. In particular the piano scales come back on Heaven and Hell and the pauses in the first minute of the track can be found on Spiral.

"The Battle Of The Locust" is a very acid rock-blues song mainly based on bass and guitar. Again please note the bass line as Demis Roussos deserves to be considered also as excellent bassist. The song is joint to "Do It". They are almost the same song and this is more acid than the first.

"Tribulation" is a short eclectic instrumental which can be considered also "Avant".

"The Beast" is a bluesy song with connections with Procol Harum, so a bit late in 1972, but surely not bad. I don't know who sings, but he sounds quite similar to Roger Chapman.

"Ofis" and "Seven Trumpets" are voices only. It's like a TV speaker announcing the end of the world like it was a Saturday night's TV show.

"Altamont" is a jazzy instrumental which reminds me to the Wishbone Ash of "Pilgrimage" or to Colosseum (the Live), but it could also fit in the Gong's "Flying Teapot" trilogy. I'm curious to hear comments about. One of the best tracks of the whole album.

"The Wedding of The Lamb"...my knowledge of the Bible is not good, so I don't know if the Lamb gets married. This track is very interesting for the arrangements. It's folk, but this could be folk from a number of different countries. There's a celtic flute, a Greek choir, African drums which turn into a jazz drum solo while the choir keeps track of the two chord of which the track is made. in the last minute the drum solo introduces the next track.

"The Capture Of The Beast" starts from the drum solo. Can the beast be captured? I don't know, but other than the drums, the keyboards come from remote to help the drums.

"Infinity" is opened by low volume percussion and vocals. While we proceed to the end, the music becomes more challenging. The voice screaming "I am to come I was" is more obsessive than the drums below. Is it the beast? It looks like. I can't say that it's a scary track because I'm used to Shub-Niggurath and similars, but it doesn't transmit good sensations for sure. Is she Irene Papas? she could as the way she uses the voice is very theatrical. Nothing so dark will ever be realeased by any of the band's members in the following years.

"Hic et Nunc"(here and now) is another false live. Also in this song I hear some Canterbury influences. Or better, the beat influence makes me think to Wigwam but I hear also Gong or even Gentle Giant on this one. Surely a song that deserves some attention. Its position in the album, just after the darkest and more challenging moment is not a case. It's a pity the this song is closed by a fade out.

Now comes the epic: a 20 minutes track after a whole album on which the longest song doesn't reach 5 minutes and half and some are shorter than one minute. "All The Seats Were Occupied" is a strange title. It's a suite of the kind of Saucerful of Secrets or some Caravan instrumental moments, but totally original. Nobody else than Aphrodite's Child could have done a thing of this kind. It's an epic track, very intense and developed. There are folk elements, the guitar played like a bouzuki or a mandolin for example. It's a track on which the effort of all the band's members can be heard. The recorded voices from previous tracks, specially infinity, which overlap the choir in the most relaxing part, it looks like this is a theatrical representation of the Apocalypse, or just that the whole mankind is watching the end of the world like it was a performance. In the crescendo of chaos which follows, the sreams from Infinity are dreadful and spine chilling. At minute 12 there's another section made of percussion and guitar which can remotely remind to Santana. The music grows up again including bass and keyboards. Some tapes from the previous speeches are quite randomly in but the base is clear and the track does never loose its continuity. This track is enough to consider the album a masterpiece. The increasing scale at minute 15:20 may have influenced Roger Waters for In The Flesh. The crescendo becomes more chaotic and at minute 16:30 the music dissolves again into percussion and tapes. It's time for a long drums solo on which Vangelis puts electronic spacey sounds which survive when the drums stop. A voice says "All the seats were occupied" and the track ends in a scary chaos. Not bad for the end of the world.

There's time for a closer. "Break" is a poppy tune with Demis singing "Goodbye my friends". The world is over and the album is about to end. After all the darkness accumulated up to now, the band didn't want to leave its public with so bad sensations. They probably knew that this would have benn their last work. NOTE; It's not Demis who sings Break. It' Lucas Sideras. Thanks to "Mrbelette" for pointing it out.

They have closed their story with a masterpiece, not many artists have been able to end in this way.

5 obvious stars

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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