VANGELIS: Sex Power (1970)
“We have to to listen to Sex Power for what it is; a movie music”
1 Partie I (17:00) Introduction 0:26 Movement One 3:15 Movement Two (Love Theme) 2:51 Movement Three 3:10 Movement Four 3:15 Movement Five 3:34 2 Partie II (17:27) Movement Six 1:56 Movement Seven 8:12 Movement Eight 3:19 Movement Nine 1:31 Movement Ten 2:29
1969! One would believe that the musical universe of Vangelis sounds so retrograde. And if one listens to it! If one listens to all this musical incandescence that the opening door to the works unique at the musical signature of the Greek multi-instrumentalist, we thus will understand a little more the roots of projects that will know their outcome years later. It's in the end of 1969 that Vangelis, always member of Aphrodite's Child, undertakes the writing of SEX POWER a soundtrack of Henri Chapier's movie which starred Jane Birkin. Who would suspect that Vangelis was going to begin a long collaboration with the cinematographic industry for decades to come? Built around a recurring melodic theme, this album inhales the poetry of the innocence so characteristic to the complex post-war love stories from the French cinema. But Vangelis goes further by exploring dramatic somber territories which will be the cradle of its creative vision, because SEX POWER is imprinted in the footprints of a contemporary Vangelis. Already, the composer of Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, China and other albums as much striking, infuses in his music its melodies and its torments that he mixes with a delicious bipolar approach. We sense inside SEX POWER the elements which will guide the start of the philharmonic cinematographic and theatrical structures which will follow all along the career of this self-taught musician. SEX POWER is more than a simple album. It's the beginning of an incredible musical epic which should never have known an end. Built in 2 long parts divided into several movements, SEX POWER begins with echoing keyboards riffs which hiccup on twisted metallic waves. It’s a short intro which leads us to some kind of tribal African percussions which drum on a bed of twinkling arpeggios, notes of harps and oniric choir structures. There is a whole melodious structure fed by fluids orchestrations and nice piano notes which touch lightly musical tendencies as much Arabian as Asian. Movement Two (Love Theme) opens with notes of a nice acoustic guitar which try to compete with the hummings of a motorcycle. The melody is beautiful. She flows with a bit of nostalgia, like a story that we once lived, to ends abruptly in the acceleration noises of the motorbike, throwing the veil of Vangelis' harmonious paradoxes. Movement Three plunges us into a more psychedelic era à la Pink Floyd on Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun with gongs and Tablas percussions which maintain a mesmerizing rhythm of zombie on acid. Movement Four and Movement Five revisits the melodious portion of Love Theme, without the motorcycle noises nor background voices. A harpsichord replaces the acoustic guitar which is more discreet, and which is made companion of a superb melody overhung by an angelic voice which hums and murmurs as a wind of happiness. Small variations embellish the melodic envelope which follows its route along a beautiful piano on Movement Five, by far the most beautiful music piece on SEX POWER.
More experimental, the 2nd part of SEX POWER begins with African tribal percussions. The rhythm is fluid and comes along with these arpeggios so faithful to the harmonious approaches of Vangelis. They roll and sparkle with such a fluidity that we can’t just ignore the musical prose that they are freeing. Bells ring and clanic flutes sculpture a melodious universe which will be reflected until the very first sketches of La Fete Sauvage. Movement Seven introduces us in the austere universe of Vangelis with percussions full of eclectic tones which resound among dark choirs to lethal intonations. It's the Heaven and Hell embryo which is drawing there with a dark ambience where bells, grave percussions and cacophonous cymbals ravage the hearing around eerie choruses. The paradox between harmony and din is edifying. Still there we just can't dislike this voice of angel which floats here and there as well as this dramatic intensity of those Gregorian drums and choruses. Variation on the same theme; Movement Eight is another version of the melodic theme of SEX POWER. This time, organ and percussions are omnipresent and cover the melodic elements which quietly dress this melody. A little as a minimalist Oldfield works, spread over distanced segments. Short and odd, Movement Nine is fed by a mixture of hummings and jingles as much mechanical as industrial in whom is melting a soft celestial voice, while Vangelis ends SEX POWER with a strummed version of the Love Theme, with a more shortened version of Movement Five. We have to to listen to SEX POWER for what it is; a movie music with melodious passages to satisfy the poetic moments about love and more abstracted passages to feed the disturbing ambiguities of the power of imagination. If we approach SEX POWER only for its music, we could be disappointed because we risk getting lost in its more experimental passages. See the movie can help but it is not a necessity so much the music of Vangelis speaks by itself. And it’s the big strength of the Greek composer; his skill to put in music the images and texts. And he also has this capacity to juggle with his melodies and his dramatic moments, digging ditches of feelings between love and discord, anger and passion. And it’s for these reasons that I consider SEX POWER as a very charming album with a skilful mixture of melody along an exploratory and progressive music which is the first step of a colossal career. For a long time discontinued, SEX POWER is again available in a version CD, including Symphonic Poem (Fais que ton Rêve soit plus Long que la Nuit), edited by a label situated in Monaco.
Sylvain Lupari (March 1st, 2012) *****