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Vangelis - Ignacio CD (album) cover

IGNACIO

Vangelis

 

Prog Related

3.34 | 39 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Here's a little Progressive Electronic trivia to start your day: how many degrees of separation connect Greek keyboard maestro Vangelis Papathanassiou with Krautrock's Florian Fricke, the enigmatic leader of Popol Vuh?

Only four, surprisingly. Arranged like this: in 1977 Vangelis released his album "Ignacio", a soundtrack to the 1975 François Reichenbach movie "Do You Hear the Dogs Barking?"...the film was a nominee at that year's Cannes Film Festival...at which the big award winner was "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser", directed by Werner Herzog...featuring (in a small but memorable role) Herzog's friend and collaborator Florian Fricke, as a blind pianist.

All pretty much useless information, I know. And totally beside the point of this review. But arguably still part of any wider appreciation of a neglected minor gem hidden within the larger Vangelis discography.

"Ignacio" was released soon after the conspicuous success of "Heaven and Hell" and "Albedo 0.39", and before the relative blockbuster "Spiral" and "China" albums. So it's no surprise that the soundtrack to an obscure European film was somewhat lost in the shuffle. And yet it features some of the keyboard wizard's best music from his '70s heyday, organized over two side-long mini-suites filled with quintessential cinematic synth and percussion atmospheres.

Part One introduces one of his trademark simple-yet-familiar themes, instantly recognizable even if you've never heard it before (selections were featured in the Carl Sagan PBS show "Cosmos"). The music develops in slowly overlapping waves over the album's first half, showing more taste and sensitivity than Vangelis often exhibited in his more popular work. Imagine "Heaven and Hell" without the extremes of bombast and occasional tackiness, and you'll find a pretty close approximation of "Ignacio".

Part Two opens with an assertive, almost techno-rock jam, before (thankfully) moving into more abstract and eerie territory, totally percussive at first and then drifting into ambient space. The unexpected coda borrows a wistful melody from Side One, arranged over a melancholy rhythm box and what sounds like a synthetic bouzouki. It's one of the rare moments of genuine Greek flavor on a Vangelis album, evoking the Arcadian ruins of a Hellenic temple in an ancient grove of olive trees.

I'm getting carried away now. But in its own quiet way this otherwise low-profile, throwaway effort stands taller than you might expect among the bigger, better-selling Vangelis albums of the era.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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