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ALBEDO 0.39

Vangelis

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richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The worthy follow up album to Heaven and Hell. 'Pulstar' and 'Alpha' are 2 of those mighty electronic pieces that you will all be familar with I'm sure.'Nucleogenesis' Pts 1 and 2 are probably amongst the most prog like music that Vangelis has made and puts him in direct competition with ELP and Rick Wakeman.Good stuff! There are some weaker moments as well but overall this is an interesting effort that combines prog and electronic music effectively.
Report this review (#34827)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of my all-time Vangelis favourite albums: this is a classical example of the most spectacularly epic facet of Vangelis' music constructed under the coordinates of electronic avant-garde, portraying some unmistakable similarities to the typical colorfulness of symphonic prog. In this album, conceptually inspired by space science and its struggle to continually explore the mysteries of the cosmic universe, Vangelis started experimenting with the Yamaha synthesizer, and in fact, this album features the presence and melodic lines on electronic keyboards very heavily. The opening track 'Pulstar' is both catchy and powerful. The successive entries of diverse orchestrated counterpoints allows it to keep an interesting vibe as its basic minimalistic motif goes on straight to its abrupt ending. The female voice that announces a time zone gives way to 'Free Fall', a brief dialogue of celeste and mesmeric synth layers that brings a relaxing air before the density of 'Mare Tranquilitatis' comes in. This latter track serves as a prelude to 'Main Sequence', an explosive showcase for Vangelis' virtuoso synth playing displayed over a jazz-fusion oriented rhythm pattern: the amazing bombast contained here is managed by the Greek maestro with absolute elegance, never letting it get gratuitous or futile. It is only accurate that such an explosive number fills a center space in the album's repertoire: it sort of creates a middle-term climax. As an effective contrast, 'Sword of Orion' portrays a sense of inscrutable melancholy. 'Alpha' (together with the opener, the two most popular tracks of this album) also brings some more melancholy, but this time, in a more clearly symphonic manner, full of exquisite orchestrations and adornments that gradually build an air of pomposity to the beautiful motif's deceitful simplicity. The 2-part 'Nucleogenesis' is another explosive number: starting with a solemn motif played on church organ (or a synth that sounds like one), it later turns into an overtly splendorous section that brings back the exciting bombast of 'Main Sequence' - here it is, another climatic point in this album. The namesake track serves as an hypnotic closure: dreamy keyboard layers pretty much a-la TD over which a narration takes place. I guess it is supposed to make it sound "more scientific". Anyway, this album is in itself a 70s gem of electronic music with progressive tendencies: the musical genius of Vangelis finds a solid expression in "Albedo 0.39", which turns out to be an excellent addition in any good prog collection.
Report this review (#34828)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This was a major disappointment following Heaven and Hell. Yes there are some strong moments but overall the album seems to lose direction. Where Vangelis has so successfully produced concept work, Albedo 039 in my opinion did not make the grade. ' Pulstar' often finds it's way onto compilations and is definitely the best track on the album. Very progressive too.
Report this review (#34829)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Great cover art (but only if you have the glossy gatefold LP) and great opening track ("Pulstar"). Beyond that, kind of an average affair. Some tracks have nice melodies ruined by awkward or unsuitable instrumentation, and others have just the opposite problem. Worth having, but not a favorite.
Report this review (#34832)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favourites recors from the 70's. One of Vangelis' most adventurous albums ever, with an unique prog-rock-jazz-synth sound. Apart from "Aplha" and "Pulstar", which probably everybody knows, I think "Albedo 0.39" and "Nucleogenesis" are also peaks in this man's career.
Report this review (#34833)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Exceptional work!Electro-new age with touches of ambient(isn't there a backround sound of crushing waves in "alpha"?) and prog rock-fusion character.Experimental for it's time this album contains some of the best and most inspiring electro songs i've ever listened to,like (the well-known) "alpha" and "pulstar", and nucleogenesis(pt1&2).
Report this review (#36516)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Vangelis' album is full of great keyboards-oriented tracks. The pieces do not sound all alike. The album is quite electronic, with full of percussions (small bells) and drums. "PULSTAR" was the theme for a Canadian television news program in the 80's. "FREEFALL" sounds quite Asiatic, giving some inspiration for his "China" record. "MARE TRANQUILITAS" has a very dramatic & floating keyboards through astronauts voices during an expedition. "ALPHA" sounds like "Pulstar": it consists in melodic, discrete & brief keyboards sounds full of small bells. "NUCLEOGENESIS" (PART TWO)is particularly rhythmic and catchy, full of fast keyboards.
Report this review (#40968)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Pulstar' starts off the album with fast, pulsing synthesizer to introduce a great tune with lots of different electronic sounds woven into it. It's catchy and very upbeat, and the reason I bought this album. Real whistle-along stuff. This track and 'Alpha' were used on Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series in the 1980s. What a perfect fit for the music.

The tracks contain all sorts of pleasing synthesizer melodies and soundscapes, from the oriental sounding to sounds strongly evoking outer space (the sound clip of Apollo astronauts during a moon walk adding to that image). This is different to the kind of sound produced by TANGERINE DREAM, though, as the pieces here are often more like rock music or orchestral music, albeit still maintaining a very electronic feel. There are some pure cosmic sweeps in places, too. I enjoy the numerous pleasant tinkling sounds throughout, plus the various sound clips (in addition to the Apollo astronauts you can hear the Speaking Clock, the dialling of an old style pulse-dialling telephone, and what sounds like a ratchet).

With track titles like 'Pulstar', 'Mare Tranquillitatis', 'Sword Of Orion' and so on, the theme of the album is obvious. The album ends with the reciting of various physical constants of the Earth, including its albedo (the fraction of incident light reflected by a planet), which in the case of the Earth in 1976 was. 0.39.

This is a very enjoyable album. I find it particularly satisfying because it is reminiscent of the purely cosmic soundscapes of the well-known German electronic artists but also incorporates melody in many places. For the keyboard fan there's plenty to please: from ecclesiastical-sounding organ to swathes of synthesizer sounding orchestral one minute then like rock the next, with fast stabbing of keys and punchy drumming. VANGELIS used electronics to such good effect, from emulating the pealing of bells to the pulsing and swooping sounds so evocative of space. The track 'Albedo 0.39' is so relaxing and a great way to end the album after the frenzy of 'Nucleogenesis (Part Two)'. In my opinion this album rates at least 4 stars (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). Highly recommended.

Report this review (#41634)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A clever musical extrapolation of our planet Earth using it`s albedo ( reflecting ratio of incident light) metaphorically to explore the signifigance ( or insignifigance if you like ) of our existence in the vast oblivion of the cosmos.

Rumoured to be a candidate at one point to replace Rick Wakeman in Yes, Vangelis utilizes an impressive array of keyboards to achieve his point(s). On this outstanding work it is more than evident that Mr. Vangelis not only studied classical music while attending The Academy of Fine Arts in Athens during the 1950`s. His intricate knowledge of astronomy and space is effectively applied to his virtuosic musical prowess on Albedo 0.39 where he writes, plays and produces the whole thing. In addition to his keyboard wizardry he also demonstrates some superb drumming skills.

Some might be familiar with the opening track Pulsar as well as the track Alpha which have been used by many news and science programs as intro themes including the local news show in my hometown of Montréal. When I bought the album back in 1978 I not only realized how appropriate Pulsar was with it`s "pulsing" synth and drum accents for the news show but also how beautifully and accurately it evokes the creation of pulsars which originate as a result of supernovae explosions. The whole concept of the album sort of reminds me of the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey except that physically, Albedo 0.39 makes it only as far as the moon. Mare Tranquillitatus ( sea of tranquility ) uses Ligeti sounding synth treatments which contrast ominously with recordings of the transmissions to Earth from the Apollo 11 astronauts walking on the surface of the moon for the first time on August 20, 1969. The Main Sequence refers to the shifting effect of billions of stars as they change position on the Hertzsprung/Russel diagram which measures the comparative age of stars from the time they become stable enough for nuclear reactions to occur within them represented by a flurry of drum and synth interlplay in a sort of compressed time interpretation. Many other astronomical references are made throughout this wonderous observation of space & time each with well thought out musical phrasings. One cool effect is the recording of the talking clock which measures Greewich mean time sort of comparing our terrestrial time to the theme of the granduer of space where time can be manipulated by speed and energy.

Although synthesizer dominated, for the most part the album is a little upbeat to be considered in the Klaus Schulze / Tangerine Dream category mainly because of the drum workouts ( Vangelis is all over the kit at times ) and some fusion influenced sections although they are enough ambient like keyboard soundscapes to break up the more exciting moments.

I t was very refreshing to hear an album with space theme with an empirical approach rather than the drugged out sci fi/fantasy freakout trips many bands such as Hawkwind and Eloy take us on. The album concludes with a narrator ( whether or not this is Vangelis himself I am not certain ) who could be pictured as a scientist standing at a podium in a planetarium lecture hall against a slide show backdrop with space images praising Mother Earth by thoughtfuly reciting various empirical Earth data and finishing off with informing us that the Earth`s Albedo is 0.39.

Recomended for the adventurous listener, one of the most interesting and thought provoking albums from Vangelis loaded with masterful studio artistry.

Report this review (#79221)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Maximum distance from the sun: 94 million 537 thousand miles Minimum distance from the sun: 91 million 377 thousand miles Mean distance from the sun: 92 million 957 thousand and 200 miles"

After flirting with the moderately successful infernal synthesiser epic 'Heaven and Hell,' Greek electronic composer Vangelis retreated to a less bombastic, space-jazz style and entered his most creative and productive era. 1976's 'Albedo 0.39' is a precise forty minute skilful, catchy, melodic, new-age journey through the universe.

Fused within the layers of synthesisers are samples of sounds and speech that enhance the otherworldliness of this listening experience. The speaking clock opens 'Freefall' somewhat oddly, and irrelevantly, until the sound of an old fashioned phone being dialled introduces the excellent 'Alpha.' 'Mare Tranquillatis' features dialogue from the Apollo astronauts on the moon, the crackly radio distortion lending an extra air of discomfort to the peaceful music, while the final track, the eponymous 'Albedo 0.39,' is reminiscent of a planetarium in its soft recitation of facts concerning the solar system and the planet Earth.

Synthesiser fans will be interested in this album, as Vangelis plays an early Yamaha keyboard that he really put through its paces; from the quiet bells of 'Freefall' to the organ of 'Nucleogenesis I' and the rip-roaring 'Nucleogenesis II.' The main sound that dominates this album is an airy, pulsing tone overlaid onto a reasonably simplistic-sounding riff.

ALBEDO 0.39

1. Pulstar 2. Freefall 3. Mare Tranquillatis 4. Main Sequence 5. Alpha 6. Nucleogenesis I 7. Nucleogenesis II 8. Albedo 0.39

"Length of the mean solar day: 24 hours and 3 minutes and 56.5555 seconds at mean solar time"

'Pulstar' provides a necessary opening, dropping the listener into the midst of things with a cyclical melody that begins low and staccato before being bombarded with lighter and much louder accompaniment. This is one of the most popular tracks on the album and an excellent opener, whetting the appetite of those who have heard it before as it gradually builds up. Although essentially a simple repeated series of melodies, the music does become more complex and difficult to follow towards the end, the levels of different sounds occasionally deviating from the built-up structure and eventually drawing to a dramatic and again very loud finale after five minutes.

'Freefall' is the complete opposite, a muted, lightweight song of two minutes with oriental-sounding keyboards (something Vangelis would really get to grips with in 1979's 'China') and a clanging bell, before an almost unnoticed transition is made to the spooky 'Mare Tranquillatis' ('Sea of Tranquillity'), coming in at an even shorter length in this transitionary phase. An low extended note lies behind the haunting high keyboards and becomes more noticeable by the end, the whole thing overlaid with unintelligible astronaut conversation, before fading out. These tracks border on ambience, but are kept punctually short before they are allowed to drift into the listener's subconscious.

'Main Sequence' is the second substantial outing, and the dominant jazz influence harks back to Vangelis' earlier, less refined compositions and work with Aphrodite's Child. The keyboards here don't follow a set melody in any way, the (synthesised) percussion being the gravity that prevents the different meanderings from spinning away. As such, this is a less instantly likeable track than the more orderly 'Pulstar' and 'Alpha,' but its position at the centre of the album and its grand title do add immensely to the chaotic sound of the album overall. The synthesisers sound incredibly like trumpets here, perhaps due to the jazzy background. The final minute takes a different course, sounding restrained, soft and relaxed.

'Alpha' is the other stand-out track here, and the second that finds its way onto every Vangelis compilation. Beginning very relaxed and chilled out, the slow melancholy melody is repeated seemingly endlessly and continues to increase in intensity with the introduction of accompanying instruments and additional layers, most noticeably the slow pounding drums introduced after the first minute. Very spacey, very catchy and a song that can be listened to endlessly. Although the song becomes a little too grand and pompous-sounding by the end, the deviation in the main sequence sounds far more natural and organic than the rockier 'Pulstar,' making this the better of the two tracks.

'Nucleogenesis I' breaks into its organ tune before the legacy of 'Alpha' is allowed to sink in, a radical departure from the futuristic sound of the album until a bass melody replaces it and a faster drum march struggles to make itself heard. Another unrestrained track in the vein of 'Main Sequence,' but this time possessing a core riff towards the end that the chimes and synth sweeps gravitate towards. The final minute marks a sudden turn and is perhaps the most beautiful and majestic part of the album; the music seems to reach some sort of conclusion, but the insanity that is 'Nucleogenesis II' swings by before it becomes clear what exactly that is.

If its predecessor was unrestrained, 'Nucleogenesis II' is chaotic. The bass-driven melody is kicked up in tempo and accompanied by ever-changing meleodies that avoid the high notes completely, a contrast to the way the more accessible tracks developed. This main sequence (the 'Main Sequence' itself returns later in the song) is even usurped by a more rocking rhythm backed by what sound like live drums before Nucleogenesis takes another of its turns and becomes dominated by slow, elegant high notes. More jazz influence here, until the music suddenly disappears and the dialling tone from 'Alpha' returns, followed by an explosion of heavenly sounds that mark the real conclusion of the album and hark back to the much-loved 'Third Movement' of Heaven and Hell.

'Albedo 0.39' is less a musical experience than an astronomy lesson, Vangelis reduced to ambient backing swooshes and dark sounds similar to his contemporaries Tangerine Dream. A soft English voice calmly lists the length of days, distances between celestial objects and concludes by stating the albedo: namely, the Earth's ratio of reflective power compared to the radiation it receives. While nothing striking, this does leave the listener in something of an ambient, new-age trance.

"Equatorial diameter: 7927 miles Polar diameter: 7900 miles Oblateness: one 298th"

'Albedo 0.39' is by no means an incredible album, but it is a great piece of electronic music. Many attempts have been made to capture the sound of space, from Stanley Kubrick's use of Strauss in '2001' to the unimaginative techno present in much low budget modern science fiction. 'Albedo' is a somewhat typical outlook: modern instruments experimenting with (then-) new sounds and sweeps to try and convey the vastness and complexity of space science, but the jazz influence and lack of much reverberation hold it back from being much more than an interesting progressive album.

Vangelis would soon discover tricks of feedback and density with the following year's 'Spiral,' and had he used these here, perhaps Albedo would have achieved its goal even better. This missed opportunity didn't prevent 'Pulstar' and 'Alpha' featuring heavily in Carl Sagan's television series 'Cosmos' however, the title music of which came from Vangelis' earlier 'Heaven and Hell.'

The excellent 'Blade Runner' soundtrack and the fun experiment 'China' both owe great debts to this earlier part of Vangelis' discography, his first successful attempt to trim his sound to a more consumer-friendly style without losing any of his loyal fan base.

"Albedo: 0.39."

Report this review (#82509)
Posted Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Partially reflective

I am sure I'm telling you something you already know here, but the album title relfects the proportion of light which the earth reflects back into space, i.e. a bit more than a third. What the album and track titles tell us really is that the theme of this album is space. Vangelis is the sole performer on the album, even being credited with bass, drums and "all other sounds".

After the familiar repetitive tones of "Pulstar", a simple theme which has been used many a time as background music for documentaries etc., we settle into an album of synthesiser explorations which will be entirely familiar to those who have listened to any Vangelis (or indeed Jean Michel Jarre) album.

The theme stays relatively close to Earth for "Freefall" which includes recordings of astronauts talking during a landing on the moon. This leads directly into "Mare Tranquillitatis" (Latin for "Sea of Tranquillity") the location on the moon where the first manned space mission landed. These two brief forays lead into the 8 minute "Main theme", a lively, rather jazz sounding improvisation.

"Alpha", which sees the music moving into more symphonic territory, is a gradually evolving repeated theme, where the synthesisers build the sound almost imperceptibly towards a fanfare like crescendo. The piece, while essentially quite commercial, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the album.

The two part "Nucleogensis", whose two parts run to over 12 minutes, is a more complex composition which moves from majestic church organ, through a fast largely improvised synthesiser section with a repetitive trance beat, to a slower climax. Disappointingly though, the track has faded ending.

The final (title) track is primarily a spoken rendition of an array of space and time related statistics, such as there are just over 365 days in a year. Admittedly, there are a few I did not know!

In all, a fine album of synthesiser music which is generally accessible, while containing some more demanding pieces for the devotee of the genre.

Report this review (#124468)
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent by Vangelis, Albedo 0.39 sees the Greek composer produce some of his most well known pieces of music, together with some of his most jazzy and progressive tracks. By the time he had completed Heaven and Hell, and his second Frederic Rossif wildlife series soundtrack La Fete Sauvage, Vangelis had fully settled into his own personal London recording laboratory, Nemo Studios, and was now beginning to churn out diverse types of albums and music. Albedo 0.39 is certainly different to his previous two records produced in his studio. While Heaven and Hell weaved piano, choir and orchestral synths to create a bombastic tapestry, and La Fete Sauvage explored the music of Central Africa, Albedo 0.39 seems to have its sights set in space. The titles of the tracks (for once Vangelis decided to name the tracks individually) themselves seem to point to this. And the music itself is far more synth dominated, and has a kind of futuristic feel to it.

Pulsar is one of Vangelis's most famous compositions and utiises one of the composers special musical tricks. Pulsar is essentially built around one very simple motif which starts off simply and gradually builds and develops over the six minute duration of the piece. Vangelis uses his banks of monophonic synths and mixes it with bursts of percussion and wild effects, such as a ring modulator. It is a strong opening track. This moves into the softer and oriental sounding second track, titled Freefall. Vangelis at this point in time was perfecting his late-1970s style of working. This was to mix electronic and acoustic instruments together to make a sound very different to any of his contemporaries. Furthermore, Vangelis would use ANYTHING to make the sounds he needed for his music. There are stories of this time where Vangelis took over an entire electrical store as he went round hitting metal lampshades with sticks to find sounds he liked - he ended up buying a set of them that made up a whole musical scale. This process of mixing found and electronic sound together is used to great effect on Freefall which mixes monosynths with balinese percussion. This short track segues into the next track, Mare Tranquilitatis, which is also merely two minutes longs. A spooky atmosphere is created here mixing synth pad sounds with samples from Apollo astronauts goofing around on the moon.

Track 4, titled Main Sequence - a reference to an astronomical graph showing a continuous sequence of stars that appear on a plot of colour versus brightness for groups of stars, is essentially a piece of improvised music with Vangelis jamming to a sequencer, though not in a Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze kind of way. The effect created here is far more jazz rock - the lead synth sounds almost like a trumpet. Vangelis's drumming here is extremely impressive also. This track segues directly into the final track of side one titled Sword of Orion. Another short track, this is a beautiful little piece and is about the only track which sounds like it could have been on Heaven and Hell, as it has that same kind of celestial quality, no doubt thanks to Vangelis's trademark Fender Rhodes playing.

Alpha starts off side 2 and this is the other famous piece of music on the album, and uses the same kind of thematic development that is present on Pulsar, but used to a far more dynamic effect. Alpha is my personal favourite track on this album. It starts off really quietly with an almost oriental flavour in the synths, and gradually builds and develops until about four and half minutes in, it reaches a crescendo as the chord sequence finally changes. This part always without fail makes me well up inside! The emotion is really intense on this beautiful track. Vangelis also again shows his great drumming ability here as well as his unquestionable talent on keyboards and synthesizers.

The two Nucleogenesis tracks are certainly the most prog-rock-like tracks on the album as they twist and turn at a frenetic pace much in the same way that much of the best prog music does. The church organ sound at the beginning of part one was apparently done on a cheap home organ made by Tornado. Other sounds were done on a cheap stylophone apparently. Its quite amazing what Vangelis could do with such cheap and generally unprofessional equipment. These two tracks are quite hard to describe. They are quite simply mad! Part two also had a beautiful crescendo and ending. They could both be easilly compared to what Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson were doing at the time, but in my personal opinion Vangelis does it better as the music is darker and more emotional. There is more weight to it compared to the frophy and cheesy nature of what Wakeman was doing on his Criminal Record album. His contribution to Yes's Awaken track might be a better comparison.

The album closes with the spooky and atmospheric title track which mixes dark pad sounds with sound engineer Keith Spencer Allen reciting facts about the Earth from a book on astronomy. It all sounds so very trivial, yet it works beautifully, creating a haunting climax to a very diverse and effective album. I have given the album a 4 star rating, though that should be 4.5 - its not quite as good as Heaven and Hell, but again I would not like to be without this album; an album which I've listened to regularly since I was a teenager. Fans of instrumental progressive rock and mid-1970s outlandish Jazz Rock (Jan Hammer etc) should definitely check this one out.

Report this review (#158231)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Back in the 1980s I was just beginning to explore progressive rock and I recall hearing this amazing instrumental on Carl Sagan's Cosmos television series. I later found out through friends in high school who were familiar with Vangelis' music that it was called Alpha and it was off the Albedo 0.39 album. Off to the record store I went and luckily found an unused vinyl copy. Many years later this would be one of my first CD purchases as I slowly began to convert over to the new format.

At the time, the most progressive music I listened to was Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and a smattering of ELP. I had no idea there were artists making chiefly instrumental music and playing all the instruments on them. Not only that, Vangelis' music was unlike anything I had ever heard before. As you can imagine, this resulted in many future purchases of Vangelis albums, some great, some terrible. But none of them ever compared to Albedo 0.39. Maybe it's sentimental, or maybe it's just that inspiring of an album for me.

Vangelis is quite a talented fellow. The album insert basically indicates that Vangelis plays keyboards, various synthesizers, drums, bass, and all other sounds without going into any details. I have no idea what those synthesizers were, but he sure did get a lot of interesting soundscapes out of them. Musically this album is all over the place, including symphonic prog, jazzy elements, ambient pieces, and even avant garde elements.

The highlights of this album are the aforementioned Alpha, the pulsating synthesizers of Pulstar, the crazy and jazzy Main Sequence, the beautiful and ambient Sword of Orion, and the amazing, classically inspired Nucleogenesis. On Alpha, Vangelis employs a technique he would use often on later albums, that of starting with a simple melody or theme and have it develop with more and more layers of sound and increasingly complex instrumentation. Though not being the first to do this and similar in many ways to Alan Parsons, I think he was the most effective of instrumental artists at using this technique.

A truly wonderful listening experience. Though many don't rank this as high as other albums Vangelis made, for me it is an essential masterpiece well worthy of five stars. Highly recommended and essential.

Report this review (#162223)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Albedo 0.39 is one of the better albums to come out of this period of Vangelis' career. It's a definite contrast from his previous work, Heaven And Hell, which took on the classic prog one album, one track split into two parts format. Albedo 0.39 is roughly the same length, but made up of nine tracks instead of 2. This makes Albedo 0.39 one of the most accessible albums from this part of Vangelis' extensive catalogue.

This album contain what are considered to be two of Vangelis' classics: Pulstar and Alpha. Pulstar is good, but a bit too cheesy for me. Alpha, on the other hand, is a very tasteful track and the definite highlight of the album, taking a short, beautiful tune and building it up to give a magnificent sound.

Half the album is dedicated to the tracks Main Sequence and Nucleogenesis Parts 1 and 2. These are the most energetic and loudest tracks on the album, though definitely not the strongest. Some parts of these tracks are good, competent instrumental section, but other parts require an acquired taste and are not particularly tuneful. Not bad, but not all that good, either.

The rest of the tracks seem less proggy, more ambient to me. They are short tracks with minimalistic melodies with more of a focus on atmosphere than actual tune. They are good, but not jaw-droppingly amazing.

Overall the album is good, but not great. There are some nice moments, but most of the album, though not bad, is largely forgettable. If you're after some more accessible early Vangelis, or want some spacey ambient/instrumental prog, then you might want to consider this album.

Report this review (#204593)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Not mere tranquillitatis

I am not a big fan of Vangelis or of electronic music generally. However, I do enjoy some of his works, particularly Heaven And Hell and Spiral. Albedo 0.39 was released between these other two and is also among Vangelis better albums. The second half of the 70's was Vangelis strongest and most consistent period and it was also during this period that his music had the closest relation to progressive Rock. I initially gave this the same rating as the other two I mentioned (namely, three stars), but after hearing these three albums again, I decided to drop one star for Albedo 0.39. There are some memorable moments here that are up to par with, and similar to, the material on Spiral. I'm thinking about Pulstar and Alpha in particular. But while Spiral is consistently good, there are several less interesting moments on this album that brings it down to two stars. These moments are close to New-Age and there is not much happening in the music.

I own these three albums as separate releases, but I know that there exists a single release that compiles these three albums in a single release. These albums constitutes a good starting point for Prog fans who want to discover Vangelis.

Report this review (#210752)
Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 「If I joined Yes, it is likely to have become famous very much. More people will listen to my music if Yes secedes afterwards and it performs alone. However, I am not interested in the activity based on the established career. 」

I will be able to ask his music for the appearance of the opposite posture indeed in this word on which it made remarks when he refuses the request of the joining to Yes. The pursuit of the music at which he aims appears originally in own music character and it appears in the work by opposite. The spirit of man who might never compromise gives the listener his creativity by announcing always a lot of excellent works.

This album is a work at the second work after it transfers the register to RCA. Some differences can be discovered in the intention of the work with the former work and the point of the composition in this album though it basically undertakes the extension from "Heaven And Hell" of the former work.

First of all, it is a point in the concept album with the theme with a very grand composition of this album that has finished. And, the point that Vangelis is devoted to the multi musician when this album is produced. He was playing the percussion instrument in "Aphrodite's Child" to which it was already on the register before. This album appears remarkably splendidly in music on which he worked based on such a career. The point to create an original repeatedly a Music character will be splendidly noteworthy ..his enough grasp of the characteristic of a lot of machine parts used.. ..the melody with the keyboard that was able to take harmony.. in addition to subjacent rhythm and idea.

It has the meaning of the reflection power of the planet and non-illuminant with "Albedo 0.39". If the flow from "Earth" that he announced in 1973 is considered, astronomy included in thought and this album of him who flowed to reach this album at last and an astronomical, physical element might be splendidly expressed. The creation that he spent on this album can feel the power still enough by compose of the tune including space and the mystery being splendidly expressed through the whole.

Report this review (#235121)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent release by the Greek master, and one of his most well-konwn albums. The two short pieces that begin either side of the original l.p. are true Vangelis classics. Pulstar sets the stage for a more sci-fi techno sound. Electronics are much more in evidence on this album than earlier releases, creating a crisp yet cold sound. Alpha is a repeating pattern that starts of with a basic rhythm and melody to which increased orchestration is added leading up to a climax. This type of composition becomes a typical platform for Vangelis and is found in many later works, albeit in greater length and complexity. The title track closes the album with spoken statistics on the earth over atmospheric music that conveys the sense of one looking down at the planet from space. This is really the theme of the album. Almost all of the tracks reflect it. Recordings from astronauts are featured. Vangelis' strong sense for melody plays well in the already mentioned Alpha and title track but also in Sword of Orion. Atmospherics are important to Freefall and Mare Tranqulitatus. The remaining tracks, Main Sequence and Nucleogenesis (in two parts) harken back to his previous experiments in jazz. These work much better than Hypothesis did, however. Though complex, they are engaging and the listener is never lost. A lot of musical ground is covered, but the main theme of experiencing Earth from outside (as opposed to experiencing Earth from the surface) is consistent throughout. Listen carefully, and reflect on this one.
Report this review (#287733)
Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As many fellow reviewers have mentioned, the opening track « Pulstar » is absolutely gorgeous and also well known in Vangelis' discography.

It is indeed a great electronic prog track with some formidable percussion work (not to mention the synths of course). This could have been the start of a brilliant performance, but alas: counterparts are absent and "Pulstar" is quite an orphan (great) song in the midst of average music ("Main Sequence").

On the plus side, "Sword Of Orion" deserves a mention: this short and spacey track is quite remarkable but unfortunately, it lasts for less than two minutes. The long "Nucleogenesis" which is divided into two parts also has its ups (bombastic feel) and downs (pompous keys and some flat jazzy parts).

One will get the enigma of the title resolved during the title track which depicts some given facts about distances in space.

In all, this is not a bad album, but three stars seem to be the maximum rating I can provide.

Report this review (#305012)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars The 39% of the light received by the Sun is reflected by Earth into the space. This is the meaning of the title. After an album entited Earth that was about our planet from a geographical/ethnic point of view, and the mystic "Heaven and Hell", Vangelis closes a trilogy about our planet looking at it from the space.

"Pulstar" is an excellent opener, with a sustained rhythm, orchestral accents and a captivating melody. Some spacey sounds enhance the final crescendo that's suddenly interrupted by the telephone time service.

From here we go to space."Free Fall" has something of chinese or indonesian for the use of cymbals and the type of melody. The transition to the dramatic "Mare Tranquillitatis" is sudden. It's the site of the first lunar landing and the recorded voices of Apollo's astronauts recreate the athmosphere of July 20th '69. Whoever has watched the landing on TV that night knows what I mean.

"Main Sequence" is another astronomical reference. It's a diagonal on the "Herzsprung- Russell" diagram that represents the status of the majority of the stars before the collapse. This is a caotic and non-melodic track. We are far from the jazzistic debuts, but I think this can be called jazz as well. I don't have an idea of what the signature is. Eight very progressive minutes closed by the last two minutes that are calm and spacey like only Tangerine Dream are able to be.

There is a continuity with "Sword of Orion". The side closer is less than two minutes long. No drumming. It's another short travel into space with SciFi sounds in the background. Very melodic with a hint of classical. A short highlight.

Side B starts with "Alpha". A repetitive melody goes in crescendo until an orchestral explosion after several minutes. It's the easiest track of the album and probably a bit too long, but I remember a TV adv with this music behind the images of two dolphins making jumps in slowmo (starting from when the drumming enters the track).

"Nucleogenesis is a suite in two parts. rhythmic and chaotic like Main Sequence, but more rock than jazz this time. It's one of my favourite tracks in all the Vangelis' discography and probably his last rock act before turning to more relaxing environments in the following albums. The second part of Nucleogenesis is started by a church organ, then it becomes rhythmic again. After an "orchestral interlude" the track is closed by the initial riff.

Now the album closer: a voice reads the "astronomical numbers" of Planet Earth over a very spacey music. Highly athmospheric and evocative of space, it's closed by the voice repeating "Albedo 0.39".

Having given five stars to Heaven and Hell I can't rate this less. If you like watching to the night sky, this is your album.

Report this review (#361900)
Posted Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars My first experience with the music of VANGELIS, was through a cassette a friend gave me a copy of "Heaven & Hell" around 1980 , which I found amazing, I was sure I had found the successor of Rick Wakeman, who's albums were getting terribly boring, so immediately and without listening them, bought all his albums including "Albedo 0.39", which to be honest disappointed me because that was not what I was expecting.

But years pass and my vision of Prog grew wider and included other genres as "Electronic Prog" and after re-listening the album, really impressed me. Even though it's very far from my beloved Symphonic, the album is simply delightful.

The opener "Pulstar" is a typical VANGELIS track which despite the radical changes, flows perfectly from start to end with an outstanding and pompous percussion that fit as a glove with the dramatic keyboard solos and sudden explosions, just brilliant.

"Freefall" is a strange song, the intro sounds as played with Gamelan (Typical Indonesian set of instruments) giving a Cambodian or Vietnamese sound, but as in the previous rack, the strong percussion is a plus.

"Mare Tranquilitatis" changes again the mood of the album adding dense atmospheres that create a mysterious and Spacey feeling, works as a short interlude before the brilliant and incredibly complex "Main Sequence", which adds jazz as a new element in the mix, again Vangelis hits the nail in the head.

"Sword of Orion" is another interlude and creates a distance sensation clearly describing the constellation. Usually an interlude is followed by a powerful and strong song, but the introduction of "Alpha" doesn't give that impression, at least until it's obvious that the track is going in crescendo, with variations over the same theme but adding new instruments in each round making the finale breathtaking.

"Nucleogenesis Pt 1" starts...Baroque?...Well it's true and proves the versatility of the Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist who is able to change moods and even genres in fraction of seconds but always with an elegant touch. The second part of this track (Nucleogenesis Pt 2) is pure Electronic Prog where VANGELIS allows himself to leave the ties behind and make pure magic wit his keyboards, another high point.

Some people criticize the title track and catalogue it as a filler, but in my opinion is a necessary coda or epilogue where VANGELIS demonstrates the relation of this album with Space travels, the perfect closer for an excellent album.

Of course my favorite album by "Evangelos Odysseus Papathanassiou" will always be "Heaven & Hell", but "Albedo 0.39" will always have a place in my turntable, an excellent release that deserves no less than 4 solid stars.

Report this review (#564325)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I kind of see Vangelis as a classical composer using modern instruments in some ways, but Albedo 0.39 does have many progressive elemets, thanks to the real drums and jazz elements, inluding complex time signatures incorporated in some of the tracks, most effectively on the enthralling "Main Sequence." I would say the best way to describe the album, though is as a space album that approaches the subject from a very scientific approach, with heavy new age and progressive electronic leanings. The opening "Pulstar" was used as background music for I believe more than one documentary, and is just the kind of music I think of when imagining the soundtrack for a space themed documentary. It's to Vangelis' credit, though, that the music is not generic by any means, and happens to be some of the best of it's kind. The album transitions smoothly to two consecutive peaceful ambient pieces ("Freefall" and "Mare Tranquilitatis") that employ a great use of found sounds, and just have some of the most genuinely spacey atmospheres I've ever heard. On to the aforementioned "Main Sequence", which returns to the energy of "Pulstar", with a slightly punchier, frenetic sound, and that melts eventually into the beautiful, "Sword of Orion", which greatly foreshadows some of the direction Vangelis would later take in terms of synth sounds and memorable melodies on later works such as Chariots of Fire. Side Two opens with "Alpha", a great electronic symphonic builder with another great melody, and then on to the two-part "Nucleogenesis", a thickly layered and intriguinly complex and and unpredictable synthesiser and drum space rock-out that sets the stage for the album closer with great emotional build-up. The closer, which is the title track, is what really seals the album as a space rock masterpiece, another perfectly applied example of found sounds of more astronaut talk with just the right amount of reverb set to the most perfect ambient soundscape. Whether it's in new age, jazz/rock, or progressive electronice mode, Albedo 0.39 is an album of pure, ideal space music from beginning to end.
Report this review (#599980)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#641194)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Newcomers to the melodramatic synth-rock of Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou couldn't ask for a more polite introduction than this album: solid entry-level Vangelis, for better or worse. It might have been designed that way as well. There's something almost calculated in the diversity of music on display, from the big cinematic gestures of the two- part "Nucleogenesis" to the nervous electro-jazz jamming of "Main Sequence" to the boilerplate space drift of "Mare Tranquillitatis", complete with Apollo moonwalk transmission samples.

Maybe the different moods were intended as a calling card to Hollywood ('Soundtracks Made to Order!'). Certainly anyone familiar with the old PBS show "Cosmos" won't be able to hear the album without recalling the beatific smile of Carl Sagan as he navigates his Spaceship of the Imagination through the outer solar system. Or perhaps all the variety was meant to fill an audition tape for the keyboard seat in YES, insecurely held by Patrick Moraz at the time.

In either case, the quality of the music varies widely between four-star Progressive Electronic excellence and synthetic two-star tackiness. Quintessential wide-screen workouts like "Pulstar" and "Alpha" flaunt a brash lack of subtlety and taste that sounded invigorating in 1976, but have dated badly since then.

And finally there's the near-ambient title track, with its calm HAL-2000 recitation of astronomical data: a minor miracle of atmospheric understatement. The album cover helpfully defines the title for all you non-geeks in the audience (a small minority among Vangelis fans, I'm sure). And the rear sleeve photo shows the viewing stand for a Cape Kennedy rocket launch, like the individual track names (and like the music itself) exploiting the somewhat trite association that existed in the 1970s between synthesizers and space exploration.

This style of music always had a limited shelf life, and was even then becoming a stale cliché. But Vangelis was setting the bar for the mainstream popularization of synth rock, with both ears keenly tuned to the sound of commercial success.

Report this review (#915993)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some people consider this as the ultimate Vangelis album that represents his peak in terms of music making. He is considered as genius as he has made many experimentations with his love t analog synthesizers at his studio that he treats it as his own audio laboratory. Indeed he is a good composer whom some compare him with great names like Mozart and Beethoven. Of course he is not as big as Mozart nor Beethoven even though his work is brilliant. Albedo is the results of his own musical explorations using analog synthesizers as his main love even though he plays all other instruments right here in this album.

"Pulstar" was very popular in my country as one television station dare to play this track as musical introduction right before the news segment sometime @ 9 PM everyday. The track builds on a synthesizer pulse sequence, a main line and various other synthesizer brass lines. It ends with a recording of the speaking clock. "Freefall" leans itself a gamelan sequence and a synthesizer line. "Mare Tranquillitatis" demonstrates his overall capability and taking full control of the music through bias synthesizer virtuosity. "Main sequence" is heavily using a consistent pulsed synthesizer sequence, combined with drums work played in jazzy style. This is unusual of any Vangelis album where usually the space style is quite dominating, this time he blends it with jazz and a bit of blues. "Sword of Orion" indicates the combination of good melody and percussion. The "Nucleogenesis" suite is a music with a dark mood combining the sounds of church organ, organ synthesizer pulse, various synthesizer brass, acoustic drums and basses. It has some elements of prog and jazz. The title track, "Albedo 0.39" is ambient in nature, demonstrating synthesizer chords and arpeggios.

It's a highly recommended album especially for those who like the work of Vangelis. Keep on proggin' ?!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1067108)
Posted Sunday, October 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Vangelis created some of the most incredible electronic music, especially in the 1970's, and he was years ahead of the time. This is an interesting effort, but for the most part, it is far too bombastic and self-indulgent for my liking. Pulstar is a solid piece, and as the album moves along it seems pleasant enough until reaching the track called 'Main Sequence', which is horrendous. I would best describe it as uneasy listening. It is very tough to sit through this one. The following two pieces are much nicer, especially 'Alpha' but apart from that, things go back to experimental mode with 'Nucleogenesis' parts I & 2 so I can only really recommend it to a fan of this artist.
Report this review (#1149480)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Albedo 0.39 is an instrumental concept album whose theme is space exploration. I would describe it as half electronic-jazz-classical fusion, half straightforward electronica.

Pulstar is a classic Vangelis track. As the title suggests, it uses a pulsing sequencer pattern. Vangelis uses his trademark synth brass for playing the main riff. The title seems to be a play on the word 'pulsar'.

Freefall is a peaceful track that uses a Indonesian gamelan tune as its base and a flute-like lead instrument. Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), named after the Apollo 11 landing site, is a short ambient track that includes excerpts from several Apollo missions.

Main Sequence is probably best described as lively jazz fusion played on synths (especially brass synths) and drums. It's a chaotic piece and uses a lot of staccato. It's named after main sequence stars, also known as dwarf stars.

Sword of Orion is another short track, with a dreamy and wistful mood. I wish it would have been longer. The instrumentation is sparse, but effective: synth pads, a synth brass melody line and some accompanying piano and chimes. It makes me think of the famous Pale Blue Dot picture, taken by the Voyager probe in 1990 and showing the Earth suspended in the blackness of space.

Alpha is the album's highlight. Similarly to Oldfield, Vangelis builds on a simple melody, layering more and more instruments and culminating in a bombastic climax.

Nucleogenesis (Part One) starts with an unaccompanied church organ, then transitions to a sequencer section with occasional drums and percussion.

Nucleogenesis (Part Two) is more jazzy and features drums as well. For some reason it reminds me of the second half of Pink Floyd's One of These Days. The end of the track is mellow and symphonic.

The term nucleogenesis, also known as nucleosynthesis, refers to the fusion of protons and neutrons into atomic nuclei.

The title track closes the album. It is an ambient track and recording engineer Keith Spencer-Allen recites a variety of the Earth's astronomic measurements. For some reason he uses miles rather than kilometers, which are generally used in scientific measurements. I suppose it was because metrification started only a few years earlier in the United Kingdom, where the album was recorded.

I recommend this album to those who dismiss Vangelis as a new age musician, as it is one of his most progressive ones. Indeed, he even rehearsed with Yes for a few weeks after Wakeman's departure. The band found him too experimental and he also insisted on playing drums (this album shows he was a competent drummer). My favorite tracks are Alpha and Pulstar, to which I sometimes listen as standalone songs or mixes. These two are the Albedo 0.39 tracks mostly frequently included on Vangelis compilation albums.

Report this review (#1472116)
Posted Saturday, October 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars The second half of the 70s was a same fantastic and also hideous time for electronic music. It was fantastic because that was when the first modern synthesizers came to be and they opened a new world to artists like Kraftwerk and Vangelis himself. It was also hideous because suddenly everybody thought that they could make a record all by themselves, and that has resulted in much of what we have of terrible in today's music.... but this is not a time to talk abouit that!

Now, talking about Vangelis, pretty much everyone knows him, born in Greece, he was a member of Aphrodite's Child and in early 70's he was engulfed with 'keyboard music'.

'Albedo 0.39' is Vangelis' eighth album and sees the musician at a peak in his long career. Like many albums of that period in music (mid 70's) the theme of 'Albedo 0.39' revolves around the Space. Albedo, or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflection power of a surface, and in this specific case, Albedo is the power of light reflection of the Earth (which in 1976 was 0.39, hence the name of the album).

Like Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow (from the same year), 'Albedo 0.39' needs a moment of your time to be fully appreciated, it's not a record you can play and just use it as background music for wahetever you're doing. No! The floating sounds and the whole 'we're in Space' thing were made for the listener to lay down in a comfortable bed (or sofa) and imagine a movie inside its head. Let your imagination run with the music.

On these days we live in this is more than a challenge, isn't it?! Will you face it?

3,5 stars

Report this review (#1814414)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Albedo 0.39 is the rating of the sun's light reflected off of the planet Earth. That means it reflects 39% of the sunlight it receives back into space. This is based off of a scale that an albedo of 1.00 (or 100%) means that all of the light received from the sun is reflected back into space. This concept of space physics provides the title of Vangelis' follow up album ('Albedo 0.39') to his highly lauded 'Heaven and Hell' album. Where the previous album was classically inspired, this album is more inspired by modern music, thus it gives it a different feel. The album just feels more like an electronic album, which is what the intent was. The concept of this album are all based around science, more specifically, space physics. All of the instruments are played by Vangelis, both electronics and acoustics including drums.

'Pulstar' is a very upbeat track which centers around a pulsing synthesizer. A melody is introduced and the music builds upon that with other synthesized sounds. The melody is catchy and easy to remember, and drives the song all the way through. The clearness of the chimes is very nice as it builds, giving things a nice sparkly sound, and the hard synthesizer hits throughout create tension and the short counter melodies keep things interesting. Layers ebb and flow creating some very cool sounds. This track ends abruptly and goes into the next track 'Freefall' with a recording of a speaking clock. A Gamelan creates the main melody here along with a synth that accompanies the melody note for note. Other counter melodies are created with other synths. This track is much more pensive and quiet than the previous one with subdued percussive sounds, and has an oriental sound to it. 'Mare Tranquillitatis' is the next track inspired by the lunar formation. It is a short track with spacey sounds and moon landing transmissions.

'Main Sequence' has a fast pulsing synth as the base with a very non-typical percussion pattern. This one is probably the most progressive track on the album. What sounds like improvisation comes from one synth while jazz chord progressions go on with another. This all finally ends about 2 minutes before the track is over and the remaining time is rather ambient, but eventually ends with a major chord progression. 'Sword of Orion' is another short track just over two minutes. It's a nice melody over the top of a broken chord, but it kind of meanders around. 'Alpha' takes a beautiful simple melody and simply builds layer upon layer adding different sounds and instruments. This will later become Vangelis' trademark sound, and is probably one of the styles he is best at. It is the same style that you hear in his most popular music including 'Chariots of Fire'. Very nice track, and a nice break from the dischord and dissonance that have appeared in other tracks on this album, and well placed in the track order.

I like the fact that Vangelis used both synthesizer and standard instruments on this album, it really gives this electronic music a lot of depth. This is very apparent in the two parts of 'Nucleogenesis' as he utilizes an organ to start things off, then adds in synths, drums and other instruments throughout. This suite is also very progressive and dramatic, with tricky rhythms and interesting melodies. Very well orchestrated throughout both parts, but Part 2 is a more structured sound, more predictable, and more repetitive, so I find Part 1 to be the better of the two because it is more progressive. However, Part 2 does take a strange turn towards the last part of the track and then returns to form before the end. 'Albedo 0.39' the title track, is a reading of Earth facts. Synths ebb and swirl around the narration. Then 'Albedo 0.39' is repeated over and over until the voice fades and the synths continue. It might be interesting, but not so much in a musical sense. Kind of a flat way to end what is otherwise a good album.

Kudos to Vangelis for exploring different musical avenues and ideas and not resting on his successful 'Heaven and Hell' classical style. He would continue to explore new ideas, and also expanding on the sound that made him popular. He would also author many soundtracks, some of them being 5 star recordings. This album is not his best, but it is still excellent, even with a few weak moments. The good points definitely outweigh the bad on this one.

Report this review (#1940290)
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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