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Vangelis - Albedo 0.39 CD (album) cover

ALBEDO 0.39

Vangelis

 

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3.68 | 165 ratings

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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.

TCat | 4/5 |

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