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SPACE ELECTRONICS AT THEIR FINEST
on 25 November 2000
Greek keyboard wizard Vangelis was one of the pioneers of popular electronic music, before he became famous for film soundtracks such as 'Blade Runner' and 'Chariots of Fire', for which he won an Oscar. ALBEDO 0.39 was released at the height of his commercial success during the late 1970s, and remains one of his most focussed and appealing albums. Not only does it avoid the classical pretensions of his earlier works, but also the tiresome experimental dabblings of subsequent efforts. ALBEDO represents the composer at his most 'electronic'. The album can best be describes as 'Space Rock', with each of the eight tracks having an astronomical theme and a cosmic atmosphere. There is little in the way of the orchestral simulations that have typified most of Vangelis' work, and we are left with a series of very precise pieces full of lively fuzzy basses, jangly fills and synthetic solos. This does not undermine the composer's celebrated sense of melody, however, as ALBEDO is loaded with catchy tunes, and every piece shows lots of musical interest. The standout track must be 'Main Sequence', a blistering assault of stunning percussion work and dazzling keyboard virtuosity. This is electronic rock/fusion at its wildest, punctuated by sudden bursts of melody amidst a crashing cacophony. 'Sword of Orion' is one of Vangelis' most beautiful and soaring pieces of electronic music. 'Pulstar' is instantly recognisable owing to its frequent use on television programmes, while the album concludes with the title track. This features the man himself, reciting a series of cosmic facts about the earth as it travels through space. Not that musical, but a fascinating science lesson for those who are interested! For Vangelis fans, ALBEDO 0.39 is essential listening. Fans of electronic music with an astronomical theme should also check out Brian Eno's 'Apollo' Soundtrack.