Spiral (Vangelis album)

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Spiral
Vangelis Spiral.jpg
Studio album by Vangelis
Released 1977
Recorded Nemo Studios, London, 1977
Genre Electronica
Length 39:25
Label RCA (Original)
Esoteric Recordings (2013)
Producer Vangelis
Vangelis chronology
La Fête sauvage
(1976)
Spiral
(1977)
Beaubourg
(1978)

Spiral is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in 1977. It was the third album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was his creative base until the late 1980s.[1] For the track "To the Unknown Man" Vangelis received the Midem International Instrumental award in 1978.[2]

Overview[edit]

It is a concept album, thematically inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals.[2][3] On the front cover is cited Tao Te Ching: "Going on means going far - Going far means returning", while the sleeve notes state that the track "Dervish D" is "inspired by the Dervish dancer who by his whirling realises the spiralling of the universe".[4][5]

It was a less known and acclaimed album than the two which preceded in the 1970s, Heaven and Hell (1975) and Albedo 0.39 (1976).[1]

Release[edit]

The album reached #38 on the Netherlands album charts in 1978.[6]

In 2011 the album was included along Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39 in a 3-CD box set series "Original Album Classics" by Sony, RCA and Legacy Recordings.[7] In 2013 the album was released in a remastered and reissued digipak edition by Esoteric Recordings. It includes a bonus track, previously unissued on CD, "To the Unknown Man (II)", which was released as a B-side of the single "To the Unknown Man" in 1977.[8]

Instrumentation[edit]

The album is entirely instrumental, apart from Vangelis' processed vocals on "Ballad". Vangelis plays synthesizer, sequencers, electric piano, electronic organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion. It is the first album on which Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, on which he would come to rely heavily in subsequent work, and is the most sequencer-based album of his career.[4]

Composition[edit]

It is characterized by melodic simplicity, distinctivity of each track and their directness. The "Spiral" builds on an arpeggio chord, teased out with rhythmic delays, while "Ballad"'s building on an electric organ, harmonica, with synthesised vocal motif, with climax on brass and timpani, then losing steam and returning to the tranquility of the harmonica. "Dervish D" is a robotic funk, a sequencer arpeggio base, percussion and a synthesizer melody.

"3+3"'s agitated sequencer pattern fools the ear into anticipating a proto-rave mind melt, when in fact it summarily becomes overlaid by a languid 6/8 waltz. However, "To The Unknown Man" , which provides the album's most enduring track, is divided in three parts; in first a slow sequence pulse and a simple guitar-like melody, in second appear strings, and in third melody disappears and is replaced by a rock beat and organ chords[1][4]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[5]

Mike DeGagne of Allmusic noted that the album lacks the "atmospheric" from the previous two albums. He goes on to say that. "although the structures and the overall dynamics of the pieces are less complicated and less sophisticated, Spiral's keyboard utilization is still extremely effectual", and "musical movement does seem to transgress toward full, complete soundscapes", especially in "To the Unknown Man".[5] Henri Stirk from Background Magazine rated the 2013 edition by Esoteric Recordings 4/5 stars.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs composed and arranged by Vangelis.
Side A:

  1. "Spiral" – 6:55
  2. "Ballad" – 8:27
  3. "Dervish D" – 5:21

Side B:

  1. "To the Unknown Man" – 9:01
  2. "3+3" – 9:43

Personnel[edit]

  • Vangelis — synthesizers, keyboards and other instruments
Production
  • Vangelis — producer, arranger, design
  • Keith Spencer-Allen — engineer
  • Marlis Duncklau — assistant Engineer
  • Michael Hudson — graphic design
  • Jack Wood — art direction
  • Michael Plomer, Veronique Skawinska — photography

Appearances in other media[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Rediscover 'Spiral'". uDiscover. November 26, 2015. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Nemo: Vangelis - chapter 2". nemostudios.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Dali De Clair (June 1979). "An interview with Vangelis". Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Vangelis - Background Magazine Review". Background Magazine. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c DeGagne, Mike. Spiral at AllMusic
  6. ^ "Vangelis - Spiral". DutchCharts. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Vangelis – Heaven And Hell / Albedo 0.39 / Spiral". Discogs. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Spiral (Official Vangelis Supervised Remastered Edition)". Cherry Red Records. Retrieved August 20, 2016.