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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

VANGELIS: Hypothesis (1971)

“From the strictly musical point of view Hypothesis isn't the kind of album which depicts the future of Vangelis. It's wild improvised free-jazz”

1 Hypothesis Part I 16:00 2 Hypothesis Part II 16:10 Affinity |CR 3037 (32:10)

After the adventure Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis took refuge in London where he gets acquainted with a musical fauna in full effervescence. By the contact of the producer Giorgio Gomelsky, he meets studio musicians with whom he improvises enormous jam sessions in May and June 1971. Recording sessions fed by a kind of progressive free-jazz style that Giorgio Gomelsky has recorded himself on tapes. Except that these recordings, of an average sound quality, were not intended for a wider audience or to be released on vinyls. They were private sessions. But the name of Vangelis begins to circulate more and more in the circles of progressive and electronic music with albums such as Heaven and Hell (with Yes' singer Jon Anderson) and La Fête Sauvage. Then came Albedo 0.39 and Spiral in 1976 and 1977. This is when that an English record company (Charly Records) puts in circulation, via a sub-division named Affinity, two albums without Vangelis' consent which grouped the material of the May sessions (HYPOTHESIS) and June's (The Dragon). Vangelis decided to bring the case in court and won his point, thus both albums were removed from sales. But the bad was made. HYPOTHESIS and The Dragon would serve from now on the cause of bootleggers, and gradually we could see these recordings resurfaced here and there on various labels. The last edition being Visions of the Future released in 1985. But what about the music?

Surfing on the popularity of Vangelis and his cosmic music, the thinkers of Charly Records envelop HYPOTHESIS of a futuristic artwork deserving of a poster of a sci-fi movie. A quite dishonest approach because, contrary to what Vangelis produces at this period, the music of HYPOTHESIS is rather of free-jazz style. And a style of free-jazz disorganized which crashes into dishevelled structures, as it should be in jam-sessions. Nothing is really coherent on these two tracks that sound strangely as Emerson Lake and Palmer fighting a raging toothache. But still there, the die-hard fans are divided. If some adore this album, others denigrate it vehemently, going as far as saying that it's about the worst work from the Greek multi-instrumentalist. But it's not that bad, except for the sound quality. If we like rambling music structures, we will enjoy HYPOTHESIS.

Part I begins like a train in station which hesitates to take off. The tones of old organ are delicious. An old-fashioned organ sounding so much like Keith Emerson' coos and hiccups under the bites of a bass line which follows all of its whims and by percussions which lay the foundations rhythmic of a Jazz Fusion. But we grow tired a little bit fast of this long improvisation which is dying of going rounds in circles, and this even if the quality of the musicians is undeniable. The second part of Part I offers a Vangelis in clouds with a beautiful improvised piano partition. I like this part. After an intro which wastes its minutes, Part II falls in a mood that is more bluesy than jazzy with an approach which becomes sharply more musical. It's a short part which loses its melody in a bad patch which offers nothing really interesting, except the soft violin of Michel Ripoche which murders the ambience by his tears of steel falling in a rhythmic cacophony which has doubtless inspired King Crimson

From the strictly musical point of view, I don't see the necessity of possessing or running after HYPOTHESIS. It's an album with a sound quality below a bootleg's one with an improvised music which offers few good rare moments scattered on a court 32 minutes.

Sylvain Lupari (November 15th, 2012) **¾***

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