Available on: Finders Keepers 12″

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Modern listeners tend to remember Evanghelos Odyssey Papathanassiou best for the role he played in advancing and popularising synthesizer music: we’ve all heard his faultless Blade Runner soundtrack, not to mention the hilariously overwrought but still pretty awesome Chariots of Fire theme.

But some of the burly Greek’s most interesting and enduring work occurred long before those totemic soundtracks brought him to widespread public attention. No one knows this better than Finders Keepers, the Mancunian label locked in an insatiable quest to showcase music from the fringes, footnotes and traditional exclusion zones of music history. This week they release Who Killed The Dragon, a 12″ vinyl EP of four previously unreleased Vangelis tracks dating from the late 60s and early 70s – and my, what tracks they are.

Two of these newly available productions are credited to Alpha Beta, Vangelis’s collaborative project with friend and fellow headcase Demis Roussous. Their ‘Who Killed’ is a swaggering desert-rock jam, with amazing minimalist percussion and the psyched-out acoustic guitar riff to end all psyched-out guitar riffs. That’s before you get to the female vocal asking, obliquely, “Who killed your grandfather?”. The other Alpha Beta piece, the brilliantly titled ‘Astral Abuse’, draws from a similarly star-crossed folk-rock palette, this time with the addition of some wispy, primitive synth sounds and a generous serving of wah-wah.

Vangelis’s ‘The Dragon’ is more lavishly arranged, with some sweeping, Arabic-style strings and a burring bassline pushed right to the front end of the mix, while the proggy structure, boogie-woogie piano and strained vocals of ‘Stuffed Tomatoes’ put me in mind of Gang Gang Dance soundtracking Jodorowsky (oh that it should happen).

It’s a predictably head-spinning 12″ from beginning to end, and reminds us that even before synths came to dominate his work, Vangelis was steadfast and ingenious in his pursuit of otherworldly sounds.

Daniel Feeld



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