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ODES (WITH IRENE PAPAS)

Vangelis

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Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Odes is the first collaboration album between Vangelis and Irene Papas, who is both a renowned greek singer and actress. She became famous with acting in movies as The Guns of Navarone Zorba the Greek and "Z", and later in Captain's Corelli Mandolin. She also created many movies based on the original plays of Euripides and already worked with Vangelis on Aphrodite's Child's 666. All tunes Irene sings on this album are Greek traditional melodies to which Vangelis adds two instrumental tracks. Of course she sings in Greek... These ressurected songs became quite a popular work in their home land. The combination of Irene's sharp mystical voice and Vanglelis synthetizers offers a very inspired record.

The opening track, Les 40 Braves, tells the story of an heroic march of young men fighting their freedom. The tune is majestuous, epic and sometimes melancholic. It grows in intensity and becomes more and more powerful. Nerantzoula is nearly an ethereal peaceful song. Then, the musical direction changes with the first instrumental of Odes, La Danse du Feu, a pulsing electronic cosmic in the vein of Albedo 0.39, finishing with a smooth flute middle-oriental melody. Les Kolokotronei is a beautiful moment where Irene sings a capella. The next track, Le Fleuve is much more atmospheric, mysterious and spacey. There comes the second instrumental of the album, Racines, a mystical tune beginning with pretty flute playing with an hungarian feel, to go on with soft electronic sequencing and mandolin. Lamento is one of the great passages of Odes. The enchanting voice of Irene on ambient waves of music reminds me a lot of Dead Can Dance... Five years before ! The disc ends with Menousis, an enjoyable relaxing tune.

Odes is one of Vangelis' best moments from the late 70s'. Quite original, Irene Papas' voice opens a new dimension to his music. Very recommended !

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Send comments to Modrigue (BETA) | Report this review (#110765)
Posted Monday, February 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Very similar to his later El Greco in mood and style except this has the haunting melodic vocal of Irene Papas. Its steeped in atmosphere and develops at a stately pace that may not appeal to everyone.Perhaps the only other comparable Vangelis album released in the seventies is Ignacio.Is this prog?..No!, not being even remotely close to Spiral and Albedo 0.39 ,two Vangelis albums that define the electronic prog genre.That said this is really too beautifull to only give 2-3 stars so excuse my indulgence.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#110779)
Posted Monday, February 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Even if this is an Irene Papas' album, I keep this record in my Vangelis' section, simply because it is the genuine music of Vangelis: like Jon Anderson used to sing for Vangelis, Irene does the same job here, and she succeeds very well. The music is absolutely beautiful and VERY expressive. There are drums & percussions that, combined with the echoed chants, give a traditional character to the music. The music is globally rather mellow and relaxing. There is a permanent echo applied on the instruments & vocals, so that it really gives a concert ambience. The music is probably sung in Greek, and the modern keyboards are not endlessly floating, so that the ancestral & folkloric dimension involved can stay in the foreground. The tracks have elements coming from many of the Vangelis' albums: they have the modern sonority of albums like Opera Sauvage and China, but they also borrow ideas from earlier albums like Earth, Heaven & Hell, Albedo 0.39 and Spiral, among others.

On "Les 40 Braves", the voice of Irene Papas and the Gregorian chants act in unison with Vangelis' keyboards: some bits remind me the majestic Mask album! There are many tubular bells sounds, which remind the arrangements of the aforementionned albums. The instrumental "La danse du feu" has a beginning pretty similar to the "Nucleogenesis" track of the Albedo 0.39 album. This album is very underrated. Any serious Vangelis' fan must have it!

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#118421)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is really an Irene Papas album. I mean, her name is on the cover and the binding. So why do I consider it one by Vangelis? For that matter, why does the Progressive Archives consider it Vangelis'? Because he produced it, arranged it, and performed all the instruments on it. There are also a couple of instrumentals on it which he composed. Irene Papas sings. I had only known her as an actress before buying this CD, but she has a wonderful voice ? deep and throaty.

The CD opens grandly with Les 40 Braves, a theme song if I ever heard one, but I don't know if it ever was used as such. It is both a march and a chant. Think of it as a precursor to Chariots of Fire. Soft resonant tones as only Vangelis can create them introduce the next piece, Neranzoula. Irene Papas comes in, and the mood stays serene, a nice contrast to the power of the previous track. A gorgeous piece. After this comes La Danse Du Feu, the first of two instrumentals on the album. This one begins in a manner reminiscent of the more jazzy tracks from Albedo 0.39, and then moves to some of the mideasternish territory he covered in even earlier albums. Ms. Papas then provides a balance by an a cappella piece. Her voice is wonderful here, full of soul and emotion. The Vangelis soft touch returns for Le Flueve, glittering with sparkling electronics. Racines is the second instrumental and longest track, clocking in at close to nine minutes. This may perhaps be the slowest piece on the whole album. A sequence of sharp tones beats out a slow rhythm, while panpipes and oud (both really keyboards) alternate leads. The mood is that of an expectant hush, that we are moving towards something. Our travels here, of course, are through the nighted desert, our way lit only by the myriad stars above. I don't know where I'm going on this trip, but I'm definitely on the trek. Lamento follows right along, as dour as you would expect. Menousis comes in as light as Lamento was dark. It is the catchiest and brightest track on the whole album. This is not to say it is a fast track. In fact, the tempo is really no faster than any of the others. It has a folksy quality to it.

Overall, this is a slow and melodic album filled with soft textures, which ironically are stark at times. It is also filled with beautiful music all the way through. The Vangelis purist who exclusively likes instrumentals will probably not be interested in this one. Their loss. I am very glad I happened upon it.

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Send comments to Progosopher (BETA) | Report this review (#292160)
Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The man already worked with Irene Papas while he was recording the hermetic "666" with "Aphrodite's Child" during the languishing and pretty evocative "Infinity". I agree with Progosopher (once more) to say that is an album that should be credited at least to both artists.

About the content though, I am not very impressed at all. The first song of interest as far as I am concerned is the good "La Danse Du Feu". Even if the recurrent theme is "borrowed" to the great "Tubular Bells", it remains a strong part of this album and needs to be considered as a highlight.

One has to know that this Vangelis album leans more towards the Greek folklore than on prog rock. I have nothing against the Greek folk music, but I wasn't expecting such music from Vangelis who scarcely showed this angle during his solo career so far.

I am afraid that songs as "Nerantzoula" or "Les Kolokotronei" won't submerge you with extreme joy. Fortunately, a track as "Le Fleuve" is closer to my expectations of a Vangelis album. It holds some fine atmospheric mood and superb melodic key lines. But I also can understand that he was willing to record an album close to his roots in partnership with an icon of the Greek scene.

Music is at times minimalist ("Racines") or sounds just as its title refers to ("Lamento"). I didn't spent gorgeous moments while listening to both of them. But I have to say that the whole album wasn't a pleasant experience for my old ears.

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#305019)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars It was the summer of 1987. I was in Agios Nikolaos (Crete) and I was looking for some music to bring at home. The shop owner, some Yannick, didn't know what he was selling. He was used to sell versions of Zorba and some sirtaki music to tourists. So I have to search on my own and digging into the exposed vinyls I recognized the Greek name of Vangelis on the sleeve covers of two albums: "Odes" and "Rapsodies", both featuring the actress and singer Irene Papas. The Greek edition that I still have reports Odes as an album by Vangelis AND Irene Papas. This should close the discussion about who has to be credited for it.

It's Vangelis' music thought for the Greek market. And Irene Papas has likely written the lyrics. The result is a great album performed by a great vocalist that's more known outside of her country for her huge qualties of actress but she's a great singer and interpreter, too.

Being thought for the local market, the album is probably the most "oriental" of Vangelis. There's a lot of Greece, it's sometimes folky but without losing the evocative side of his keyboards and the singing of Irene Papas adds a lot to the songs.

This album alternates solar and dark moments. There's also room for a Vangelis' instrumental "The Dance De Feu" (The Dance of Fire) followed by a solo singing of Irene (Les Kolokotronei). that seems a religious hymn or a prayer but to be honest I don't know what it's about. Ihave found this translation but it doesn't say much to me:

"The sun shines on the mountains; it shines on the valleys. That's how the klepht family of the Kolokotronis shines, who have the large amounts of silver, the silver swords. They don't deign to set foot on the ground. They go to church on horseback; they worship the icons on horseback; they take the sacred bread from the priest's hand on horseback."

"La Fleuve" (To Potami in my edition) is a hymn to a river, while "Miroloi" (Lament) and "Menousis" (a drunk man who kills his wife for jealousy) are other dark moments.

In the middle, "Racines" is another instrumental but deeply Greek also this.

This album is a journey to the secret soul of modern Greece. Close your eyes and watch a dry land covered by olive trees and mystic wilderness.

4 stars

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#366213)
Posted Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It's all Greek to me

Released in 1979, "Odes" sits between "China" and "Opera Sauvage" which were also released that year. We should not really look upon this as an integral part of the Vangelis discography though, as it was originally intended only for the local Greek market, and only made available in that country. It was some years later before the album was given an international release. Even the sleeve plays down Vangelis admittedly heavy involvement, with only Papas name appearing on the front cover.

The reason for the restricted availability is that this is actually a collaboration album with Greek actress Irene Papas, who provides vocals throughout. Papas has enjoyed international success as an actress over many years, her films including such classics as "The Guns of Navarone". Here, she joins with Vangelis in offering modern interpretations of traditional Greek folk songs, the collection being rounded out by a couple of original compositions. The songs are sung in Greek, hence the localised nature of the original marketing.

The eight tracks capture various aspects of the history and geography of Greece, ranging from the march of a band of warriors during the Greek war of independence to a pastoral appreciation of the beautiful river Jannes. The opening "The forty braves" (I shall adopt the English language titles) is dedicated to said warriors, Papas being joined by a small chorus to add depth to the sound. Papas vocals are deep and slightly warbled, similar to singers such as Enya, Buffy St. Marie and Melanie.

"Little Orange Tree" has a real Enya feel to it, the moody ambience of her slightly echoed voice being accentuated by some soft synths. "Dance of fire" is the first of the new compositions, but even this is based on traditional Greek melodies and inspirations. Papas sits this one out, the track being entirely instrumental, with something of a Jean Michel Jarre feel. In contrast, "The Kolokotronis family" tells the tale of a legendary Greek dynasty through the unaccompanied voice of Papas.

The two reunite for "The river", dedicated to the aforementioned Jannes river. Here we have arguably the most beautiful piece on the album, Vangelis deep synth tones following Papas deep but delicate vocal superbly. "The roots" is the second of the original compositions and instrumentals. It is very much a continuation of "Dance of fire", taking its inspiration from the same themes. "Lament" is just that, a lament to the passing of a daughter by her mother, sung as a sort of spiritual wake. The track has an Arabic atmosphere, Papas strong, unemotional vocal adding to the gloom.

The closing "Menoussis" is a more orthodox narrative folk story of love, jealousy and infidelity, sung to a slightly more upbeat melody with chorale backing.

Overall, a rather different entry in the Vangelis time line. Papas is very much the star of the show here, but if we listen more carefully, Vangelis contribution is significant throughout. Those who appreciate the work of Vangelis may be a little bemused by this album at first, but such reservations will rapidly disappear.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#808222)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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