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Albedo 0.39 is an album by the artist Vangelis, released in 1976. It is a concept album around space and space physics. Albedo 0.39 was the second album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was to be his creative base until the late 1980s. It contrasts with his previous album, Heaven and Hell, which is classically inspired and choral, while Albedo 0.39 has blues and jazz overtones.

Instruments

Vangelis plays all instruments. Although it is uncertain which synthesizers Vangelis employs on this album, other instruments include acoustic drums, percussion, a xylophone, a gamelan (track 2) and recordings of the speaking clock (courtesy of Post Office communications) and the Apollo moon landing ("courtesy of NASA"). It appears Vangelis alternates synthesizer and acoustic basses on different tracks.

The only vocal is the narrative on the title track, which is uncredited. It was later revealed to be the voice of Vangelis' sound engineer Keith Spencer-Allen.

Overview

"Pulstar" (supposedly a contraction of "pulsar" and "star") was to be the most popular track, building on a synthesizer pulse sequence, a trumpet main line and various other synthesizer brass lines. It ends with a recording of the speaking clock.

"Freefall" builds on a gamelan sequence, two flutes and a synthesizer line.

"Mare tranquilitatis" (the biggest "sea" of the moon) is a quiet synthesizer piece featuring recordings of the Apollo moon landing. Samples of this track can be heard on Enigma's album, The Cross of Changes (uncredited).

"Main sequence" is propelled by a pulsed synthesizer sequence, along which a trumpet- and drums-based jazz track develops. It calms down and flows into—

"Sword of Orion", built on an arpeggio chord, trumpet melody, and percussion.

On "Alpha", Vangelis employs a composing technique he would use extensively on later albums (e.g. Direct): a simple theme of a few bars is developed through increasingly complex instrumentation. Instruments include a slow synthesizer arpeggio, synthesizer mallet melody line, xylophone, percussion and (later) acoustic drums. It is a rather upbeat piece.

The "Nucleogenesis" suite conveys a somewhat darker mood, employing a church organ, an organ synthesizer pulse, various lines of Vangelis' patent synthesizer brass, acoustic drums and basses. Although hard to classify, the pieces appear to hold a ground between classical, blues and hard rock.

The title track, "Albedo 0.39" is an atmospheric track building on waxing and waning synthesizer chords and arpeggios, while a voice with a British accent narrates various physical properties of the Earth, such as its mass, length of the year in various measurements, and, finally, its albedo (amount of light reflected back into space). "The Gate", the opening track of another Enigma album, The Screen Behind the Mirror, appears to have been inspired by this Vangelis piece.

Excerpts from "Pulstar" and "Alpha" can be heard on episodes of Carl Sagan's documentary series Cosmos, along with several other Vangelis themes.

Track listing

  • (05:45) "Pulstar"
  • (02:20) "Freefall"
  • (01:45) "Mare tranquilitatis"
  • (08:15) "Main sequence"
  • (02:05) "Sword of Orion"
  • (05:45) "Alpha"
  • (06:15) "Nucleogenesis (part one)"
  • (05:50) "Nucleogenesis (part two)"
  • (04:30) "Albedo 0.39"

Albedo 0.39
Album by Vangelis
Release 1976
Recorded ???
Genre New Age, Ambient
Length 42 min 30 sec (9 Tracks)
Label Windham Hill
Producer(s) Vangelis
Professional reviews
Vangelis chronology
Heaven and Hell
(1975)
Albedo 0.39
(1976)
La Fete Sauvage
(1976)

Sources

  • Album sleeve
  • "Inside the Synth lab" interview with Keith Spencer-Allen
  • Samples

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