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Vangelis - The Dragon CD (album) cover




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3.74 | 82 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Where do I begin with one of my favourite albums? One that I've had for over twenty years, that I still listen to all the time and find it impresses and amazes me more and more each time. Vangelis' `The Dragon' is what true progressive music is to me - a blending of different styles and genres to create something truly inventive and forward-thinking. It's a hypnotic combination of droning raga-rock, psychedelic haze and ethnic atmosphere, full of drama, rising tension and contrasting dreamy passages. The way the acoustic instruments weave around electric guitar and humming electronics truly bridges the past and the future, the ancient world with the modern.

The title track is a hypnotic mantra, filled with swallowing gulping bass and dizzying ethnic percussion. This journey to the East is a thrilling and dynamic droning piece, with a rough and reckless Krautrock style as it runs through everything from bolero rhythms, near-Arabic themes and fuzzy dark psychedelia. It constantly builds with lurking mystery and monstrous tension throughout, occasionally breaking into wild violin jigging and freeform distorted electric guitar phasing. Tribal beats, crashing predatory drumming, monotonous acoustic guitar strumming and harsh electronics blur into a tornado of blissful aggression and primal fury. Just close your eyes and be swept away with it.

`Stuffed Aubergine' begins as a tip-toeing and delicate dreamscape of gentle electric guitar picking and floating shimmering electric piano. I think of a serene lake, with an inviting and beckoning ghostly female presence far away in the distance calling me closer. It's as if this figure has taken me in her arms where I know I'll be protected from all my doubts and worries, but I'm still anxious and frightened at this new sensation. Waterdrop-like looped percussion soon mixes with commanding strummed acoustic-guitar bliss with serene synth washes and mad bass soloing. Such a wonderful and drifting Krautrock number, that makes for a perfect come-down with just a hint of danger.

`Stuffed Tomato' is a ragged, almost sitar-like droning folk piece with commanding deep-throated aggression before stomping in with a thick and crushing Amon Duul-like feel good acid-freakout middle full of hippie vibe. Careening bass, spiraling keyboard solos and murky electric guitar churning tear through a whirlwind of jazzy electric piano and impossibly manic acoustic playing. Play it loud, and this one will totally threaten to overwhelm you.

I was initially drawn to the album by that wonderful cover. As a lifetime collector of comic books, the album cover just leapt out at me! I mean, just look at it - B-Movie monster heaven! I'm a proud owner of a pristine vinyl edition, and it holds a very special place in my collection. It's unbelievable to think that this album was never really intended to be released, instead put out without the artists' permission. The fact we came so close to not being able to enjoy this wonderful musical experience is shocking.

Although I like many of his later electronic albums, it's his earlier phase as an experimental/world/ambient artist that really fascinates me, as Vangelis was clearly searching in all possible directions for a sign of where to head. This is really up there with his immersive proto-ambient `L'Apocalypse Des Animaux', though where that album is a subtle and fragile thing of beauty, `The Dragon' is a wild and wooly beast flailing about full of energy.

An essential part of any raga-rock, ethnic, dark psychedelic folk and Krautrock music fans collection.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 5/5 |


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