Invisible Connections

a look at the music of Vangelis Papathanassiou

'Invisible Connections' presents a real enigma in Vangelis' oeuvre and opinions continue to differ on how to interpret this avant-garde puzzle. It is the only Vangelis non-compilation album ever to be released on classical music label Deutsche Grammophon where at the time of writing it still features, complete with cover, in DG's annual glossy printed catalogue. It could even be the most modern-sounding item in there, as its other entries mostly belong (in classical music terms anyway) to the traditional core repertoire, which has always been DG's marketing strength. As is the case with 'Beaubourg', that earlier foray into the avant-garde, there's no obvious rhythm, melody or harmony present in any of the three tracks that make up this album, which is slightly darker in atmosphere than that 1978 predecessor but uses similar sounds. Some passages (like the closing half of the first track) actually contain some listenable abstract noises, others (like most of the third) are best described as simply irritating. Listening to it always reminds me of that moment in the 1993 "Musique Au Coeur" television-interview where interviewer Eve Ruggeri challenges Vangelis to "play something amusing" whereupon he suggests, evidently surprised by the question, to maybe play some "contemporary music" (I'm pretty sure he means post-war classical avant-garde music in the Schoenberg/ Stockhausen mould here). So based on that evidence this album could be the expression of a rather oblique sense of humour on Vangelis' behalf. On the other hand repeated listening reveals the music not to be completely nonsensical and it does sort of fit into his exotic mid-eighties period which also includes 'Soil Festivities' and 'Mask', created before and after, respectively. For Vangelis it might have functioned as a sort of "reset", to clear the mind before going further. So until Vangelis himself enlightens us on this matter it's hard to decide one way or another - the music certainly doesn't provide any clues, because (as funnily enough is indeed the case with most contemporary avant-garde music) it's impossible to tell whether it's being played "correctly", i.e. whether all notes and effects are really meant to be in the places they are rather than in any other places. It could all be random fooling around or it could be the result of some predetermined musical ideas. To conclude: in terms of music "Invisible Connections" is probably the only Vangelis album one can safely afford to give a miss. But die-hard Vangelis fans will of course buy it - and fortunately for DG, most of them are.

Review by Ivar de Vries