a look at the music of Vangelis Papathanassiou


Supposedly this experimental album can be interpreted in two ways. Cynics will argue that being contractually obliged to provide one last RCA album before switching to Polydor, Vangelis quickly dashes off this work. I wouldn’t put this past Vangelis who has scant regard for the music industry but the circumstantial evidence points to the contrary: he discusses it seriously in interviews and part of it, or certainly music very much like it, was used to good effect a few years later in the Frederic Rossif documentary about Pablo Picasso.
In terms of music the album is a bit of a rarity – it is very sound-oriented with no real melody or rhythm to it but nevertheless tonal. It is also actually being played (mostly on one instrument), i.e. no programming using random generators or anything like that. The only processing seems to have consisted of adding plenty of suitably disorienting stereo-effects. It is basically one piece cut in half for the original LP-release, which was transferred straight onto the CD-release.
The fact that Vangelis album-titles usually have direct reference to the ideas behind his music also applies here. Beaubourg is the Paris district where Vangelis lived at one time and in it stands the bizarre Centre Pompidou with the famous tube-network construction. This quality is evident in the music but it might at the same time also be a very abstract distillation of busy Beaubourg city-life. Other associations one might get is the exotic world of deep-sea flora and fauna, or modern painting, like that of Picasso.
To sum up: ‘Beaubourg’ is not an album you’d much listen to but it’s not to be ignored either. At least the vivid green album-cover must count as one of the most beautiful Vangelis ever designed.

Review by Ivar de Vries