VANGELIS: The Dragon (1971)
“The Dragon is sharply more musical and more melodious (than Hypothesis) where we can feel the next orientations of Vangelis”
1 The Dragon 15:18 2 Stuffed Aubergine 11:17 3 Stuffed Tomato 9:32 West Line Coop | WL111 (36:07) ***
Recorded in June 1971, THE DRAGON follows the same paths of Hypothesis without nevertheless sounding like it. Set apart Stuffed Tomato, which sounds like the irrational structures of Hypothesis, this 2nd session of the now famous recording sessions of the spring of 1971 presents better structured titles with good melodious approaches which are the cradles of what the self-taught multi-instrumentalist Greek will offer on its subsequent works. To say the least, until the nebulous Beaubourg that will go out about 7 years farther.
Orgiastic, the title-track is a powerful musical fresco with a lot of scents of Mediterranean festivities which lurches towards a heavy psychedelic style on LSD. The rhythm is heavy and fluid with waltzing strata coming from a heady violin which swirls in a suave approach of a tribal fete. The percussions knock out this Greek ritornello with knocks of a symmetry which recalls more of wild dances than the Hellenic festivities, while that Brian Odger ploughs his bass bow with a disturbing caustic suppleness. This is pure progressive music. Vangelis? Well he is quite shy behind this vibrating psychedelic festive ode which is much more a duel violin/guitar under a curtain of heavy reverberating waves. It's rather on Stuffed Aubergine that he is more present with shy electric notes of a piano which float around delicate guitar chords. The ambience is very near of the one on l'Apocalypse Des Animaux and Ignacio with this fusion of acoustic and electronic elements which is rocked by fine manual percussions. Little by little Stuffed Aubergine develops in a beautiful ballad with a more musical approach which is similar to the progressive folk song of the 70's. It's a beautiful title which follows a harmonious boleric tangent with a soft mellotron (or a flute?) which mixes its harmonies with a spectral mist. Very good, even if that put years on.
THE DRAGON is sharply more musical and more melodious than Hypothesis. Except that, as its brother of sessions, the quality leaves something to be desired. But, all in all, it's a faithful reflection of the orientation change that made the link from Aphrodite's Child to his solo works to follow. I think that's for the die hard fans of Vangelis who will seduce us even much more with works such as Fais Que Ton Rêve Soit Plus Long Que La Nuit et l'Apocalypse Des Animaux; two claps of thunder that will start an impressive career.
Sylvain Lupari (November 18th, 2012)*****