Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
I've heard of this album being likened to Vangelis falling on the keys of his Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer while taking a nap. This is very abstract music and there may very well be some truth to that. But hey, if you're going to fall on a synthesizer, the mammoth, horribly expensive, and analog CS-80 is probably a good one to go for. Really, I feel like this is comparable to some of the stuff that Morton Subotnik has been hailed a genius for. Even with the avante-garde instinct at full throttle, hints of Vangelis' melodic instincts shine through. Beaubourg is far from a fan favorite, but I think it ranks as one of Vangelis' best outings.
This is basically one piece of music, split into two album sides. It's not really music to be listened to with a full attention span, nor does it serve as background music. This is simply music that has to be experienced. The esoteric is at center stage here as the music shifts from mood to mood without a comfortable reference point. Otherworldly synth tones attack your ears and evoke a truly alien landscape.
I'll easily admit that this is not for everyone. Much of Vangelis' 70's works aim for grandiose cosmic tones, but this is a different creature entirely. You have to shut off the logical centers of your mind and let the sounds take you where they will. This is late night music to prime your subconscious for the surreal. It's far from perfect, but it contains a visceral wallop that more conventional musics do not. This is what the music of the spheres sound like as they come crashing through Earth.