also by Vangelis:
Another worthwhile album from Vangelis's lesser-known 1970s period, consisting of five similarly-sized sound paintings. One familiar piece might be "To The Unknown Man", which often finds its way onto Best Of compilations, and deservedly so. Vangelis is often inclined to over-orchestrate, but this is a sublime example of knowing when to hold back the big arrangements. It starts with an inspired sci-fi blockbuster style tune over the tiniest tapping of a bassline. That melody is stretched for several minutes, while the tension is increased with the merest addition of single instruments, including a military drum roll. It's a relief when the drumkit beat finally kicks in towards the end, as if we've reached a peak from where we can survey the whole space-opera landscape.
The sinister medical-looking instrument on the cover might actually be an audio lead, but the whirling arpeggios of opening track "Spiral" always evoke the album's surreal imagery. It's like some alien interpretation of a Debussy or Ravel piano piece. A track which might easily be overlooked is "Ballad" - an elusive, impressionistic collage with an air of Chinese theatre. Strange muttered vocalisations mingle with lots of those bluesy synth leads that were used to such effect in "Blade Runner". "Dervish D" isn't exactly whirling, more like squatting, with an gnawingly repetitive gnomish tune.
Either this or "Heaven and Hell" will do nicely for a taste of what Vangelis has done other than those wide-screen movie soundtracks.
December 15, 2004