Vangelis - Albedo 0.39 [Esoteric Recordings - 2013]Albedo 0.39 was the 8th album from this celebrated Greek electronic composer & musician. It was originally released back in 1976, and it saw the highly talented electronics whiz pushing the (then) perceived boundaries of synthesizer music by adding in complex layers of synth & other instrumentation, as well as bringing in elements of jazz fusion , symphonic prog, blues, gamelan & early dark ambience into the albums make-up.
This is the 2013 reissue of the album, and it sees the work getting a full remastering by Vangelis himself- and I believe this is the first time the album has been remastered. Now the whole thing is rich & vibrate in it’s mid 70’s sound, with the many layers of synth having both dept & separation, and the non electronic elements showing rewarding textural detail- so as re-masterings go this is well done.
The album is a conceptual work, which was inspired by Space and Galactic Physics. It took its rather unusual title from the planet Earth’s albedo, (the proportion of the light a planet receives that is reflected back into outer space), as it was in 1976.
The original album took in nine tracks in all, with a total running time of forty two mintues- this reissue adds in no other extra content, so all you get here is the original album as it was first released. The nine tracks last between around two mintues to just over eight minute, and as 1970’s electronic albums go the pace here is varied through-out. The album opens with “Pulstar”- a urgent & dramatic piece which brought together continual stabbing synth textures, with building ‘n’ rich layers of orchestrated electronics. “Freefall” is all about spacey synth weaved by slow 'n wishful Gamelan texturing. While track three “Mare Tranquillitatis” offered up just under two mintues of moody star bound dark ambience that's layered with astronaut chatter.
“Main Sequence” is propelled along by rapid angular ‘n’ stabing synth textures, as the track progresses a more jazzy fusion percussive edgy rises along with groovy snyth/organ sweeps. “Sword of Orion" slows the pace down with weaves of graceful trumpeting like synth tones and spacey wishful electro ebb.
"Alpha" moved towards symphonic side of things, with a gradually evolving & building dramatic theme, which slow but surely adds on more layers of orchestrate mimicking synth tone & pomp, before it reachers a fanfare like crescendo.
After this we have “"Nucleogenesis (Part One)" & "Nucleogenesis (Part two)”- these move from moody stabbing church organ opening, through to more symphonic prog rock bound layered synth work-outs & orchestrated dramatics.
The album finishers off with the title track which brings together sweeps of space bound ambience synth ebb, with a well spoken English male voice reading out complex astronomical facts & figures.
Package wise I’m afraid to say it’s a little disappointing- the reissue comes in a fairly minimal white digi-pak sleeve; the albums original artwork( of a glass spear blanced on top of a half filled glass of water) is reduced down to a quarter of it’s original size, and a more modern looking font replaces the 70’s digital like text. The reissue features a 12 page inlay booklet, which again is fairly minimal & stark taking in: the original album sleeve design/layout, a single page write-up about album, a rather brooding picture of a bearded & long haired Vangelis over a graph paper back ground, credits, more graph paper stark lay-outs, and a picture of 1960’s or 1970’s journalist filming & taking pictures of a space rocket launch. I’d say as reissue go this looks quite artily stark & minimal, but for me it’s a bit too stripped back- in the past Esoteric Recordings have really gone to town on their reissue inlay booklets, adding in lengthy & informative new write-ups, rare album related artwork & photographs, poster artwork ect…so one feels rather short changed by this reissues presentation.
So to sum-up it’s great to have a new remasted version of this rewarding & varied 1970’s Vangelis album- it’s just a pity that the reissue it’s self is rather stark and minimal in it’s appearance, & really lacks any new write-ups, unreleased artwork, or new photographs from the albums original release.Roger Batty