Happy Birthday Vangelis!
Today marks the 73rd birthday of Greek musical maverick and legend Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, or Vangelis as he’s known to the world. He first came to attention in the psych pop group Aphrodite’s Child in the late 1960’s. However by start of the 1970’s they had broken up and Vangelis was off on his solo musical odyssey.
Since then Vangelis has released over forty studio albums and soundtracks. Some of them like Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire and 1492: Conquest of Paradise have entered the world lexicon and are household names, whereas other albums like Mask, Oceanic, and Alexander have been sadly overlooked. Here are three more Vangelis releases that need to be re-evaluated and investigated.
When Beaubourg was first released in 1978 is was considered to be a rash release to get out of a contract, Vangelis refuted this, and claimed it was as thought out as any of his previous albums. After you’ve gotten past the initial abrasiveness of Beaubourg you start to hear rhythmic patterns and melodies. The album is named after the area of Paris where Vangelis lived in the early 1970’s and was meant to reflect it music. For some reason this is the Vangelis album I have played the most over the years, and each time it yields more of its secrets. Yes its not easy listening and yes its abrasive and biting, but it’s never boring. Check out 1985’s Invisible Connections if this is your thing as it’s a slightly tamer and concise version of similar themes.
Soil Festivities (1984)
By 1984 Vangelis has pretty much done it all. He’d won an Oscar and had a worldwide smash hit with The Theme From Chariots of Fire. On his 1984 album Soil Festivities he decided to be inspired by nature. The album is made up of five movements, that run the gambit of minimal electronic, ambient, tonal blips and beeps and lavish sonic poems. It is loosely connected to 1985’s Invisible Connections and Mask, and it is considered that this trilogy should be played back-to-back to get the whole idea of the piece.
The City (1990)
Back in 1978 Vangelis tried to create a concept album loosely based on an area of Paris by the Pompidou Centre. This album wasn’t well received and still divides fans, however by 1990 technology was better so it was easier to create vast soundscapes that were also listenable. Thus The City was born. Opening track Dawn kicks things off with a dawn chorus and the sound of a city waking up. From there is goes to afternoon in the business district Nerve Centre and the leisurely wind down after work with Good to See You before the day comes to a close with Red Lights and Procession. This is one of Vangelis’ most cohesive works. Yes at times it sounds a bit basic and contrived, but considering it was written and recorded in a hotel suite in Rome, you can still hear the ideas and themes bustling out of the speakers.