|Aphrodite’s Child – 1971|
Sometimes when we’re traveling you know there are destinations most people aren’t quite ready to go with you. So what can you do? You prepare them ahead of time to a new experience that might pique their interest. Yesterday’s Spark’s track was just a teaser. Today’s two tracks by Aphrodite’s Child from their 666 album definitely start to present a fruitful challenge, if you the reader, choose to accept it. The hard track of the day is “The Battle of the Locust/Do It” quite simply a rocker hell bent on high-tailing it out of anywhere. Then we have the softie of the day “Aegian Sea” [sic] a ruminating track of biblical proportions. Taken together they present an appetizer for what should follow next as I cruise down my August theme of driving songs.
I know I’ve brought up Vangelis before, for good reason, sometime before he became the king of New Age, he was this extremely interesting guy just creating these future epics for no audience whatsoever. After dabbling in psychedelic pop with the previous two Aphrodite’s Child albums in 1970 he decided to go somewhere few wanted to go. He went biblical. He decided to create an album that would be the musical manifestation of the Book of Revelation. These weren’t entirely imagined vistas that most groups, not named Jethro Tull, would invent out of the ether, but harsh parables that people actually knew about. His bandmates completely wanted to disown this album, for those reasons altogether, since they wanted to head in an towards a poppier direction and not in this overtly religious confrotational music. However, Vangelis stuck to his guns and molded this album almost entirely by himself. Finally, revealed to his band mates to years later with sensational artwork completed, by then, the band had split and had already moved on leaving this album nearly forgotten.
|666 Album Cover|
However, this is an important album in the annals of alternative music. It’s an album full of various shifting modes, a lot of them taking cues from Greek musical motifs (Vangelis’ homeland), and shifting tonal moods. From spacey prog rock, ambient interludes, Greek bozouki music, orgasmic mantras, through piano balladry you’re taken as a listener, sonically somewhere uniquely of Greek creation: both this music and the Book of Revelations. Somewhere, in the middle of this double album, there’s this aural infestation signaling the Battle of the Locusts…and lord knows does Vangelis’ not hold back delivering the message via hired guns Silver Koulouris on guitar and Lucas Sideras on drums. They bring it like the Biblical swarm sounding the 5th trumpet. Initially the starts to groove over a nasty wah lick, then as you’re enjoying this funk rhythm, they knock you on your booty and really bring the rage. Only stopping on a dime to further increase the battering, so much so, you’d swear that this kind of rocking is dangerous at any speed.
However, before you even get to this point on the album you’d already been visited by another revelation, “Aegian Sea”. This track, I guess in a way, is Biblical in the way the actual Bible tried to relate how we have this book to prepare us for whatever’s coming next but can anything ever really prepare you like viewing it first hand? Over a pounding beat, swooping vocals fade in and out as meditative synths draw you into the sky…that then opens up to the extremely treated spoken Demis Roussos part letting you know exactly what’s going to transpire with some truly eerie guitar work roaming about it.
Historically, you know what kind of tribulations go on after the first revelations seen by those characters in the Bible, but man it doesn’t make it any less vivid when presented aurally like this. Give credit to Vangelis, he knew that the only way to demonstrate stuff like this is to treat it with symbolism it deserves. Together these two tracks and that album itself, aren’t something you put on any day but when you do, its pretty hard not to get transfixed and send your mindspace somewhere you never thought you’d think you would experience. More of that sensation tomorrow…