Vangelis - Albedo 0.39

Album cover

  1. Pulstar (5:38)
  2. Freefall (2:15)
  3. Mare Tranquillitatis (1:46)
  4. Main Sequence (8:09)
  5. Sword of Orion (1:58)
  6. Alpha (5:44)
  7. Nucleogenesis (Parts One and Two) (12:04)
  8. Albedo 0.39 (4:26)

RCA, 1976

also by Vangelis:

see also... Jon and Vangelis, Jon Anderson, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tomita, Tangerine Dream

A colourful but disjointed album from the prolific electronic composer, more notable for the hits it contained than its qualities as a whole. "Pulstar" is one of those tracks, along with "Oxygene", that always ends up on those "Synthesizer Greatest" compilations you find in the Woolworths bargain bins. It's a great track, a one-note bassline underpinning that hugely catchy and gnawingly mechanistic tune, whipped up to a chaos of scrapes and crashes.

Just as memorable is the title track, in which a distinguished gentleman recites figures about the planet Earth to an ominous synth background. When he finally repeats "Albedo: zero point three nine", to a subtle change in musical mood, this feels like a hugely dramatic twist in some space opera. Maybe this figure will have some sinister significance in the distant future, or something.

The rest of the album is oddly structured, with little sci-fi mood pieces, and extended experimental workouts. The free-jazz "Main Sequence" is a fun wig-out, rhythmically dense but not quite as important as its billing implies. "Nucleogenesis" is along similar lines, all subtlety is banished for this heavy-handed, headbanging instrumental scherzo. More accessible is "Alpha" whose serene tune makes it a good companion to "Pulstar" on the Synth Hits cassettes.

December 9, 2004

7 out of 10

see also...

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson