Vangelis — 1492: Conquest of Paradise
(Atlantic 7 82432-2, 1992, CD)
Vangelis — Blade Runner
(EastWest Records 4509-96574-2, 1994, CD)
Vangelis — Oceanic
(Atlantic 82953-2, 1996, CD)
Vangelis — Voices
(Atlantic 82853-2, 1995, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1998-02-01
I had almost left the Greek hero for dead following 1987's Direct, but five years hence Vangelis managed to rekindle the magic spark, and 1492 was the album to do it. A soundtrack to another Ridley Scott epic, its grandiloquence is perfectly suited to the theme of discovery, and the ubiquitous vulnerability of the human spirit. Look out for the much-featured choir and classical guitar, as well as some Ravel-inspired piano passages reminding of Heaven & Hell; less involved instrumentally than his 70s output, but rendered with delicacy and that fire-of-Prometheus melodic sense. Quite the complement to Blade Runner, the release of which was a celebratory event for his fans. Realizing it wouldn't live up to the reputation of Chariots of Fire, he wisely let all the hoopla die down before release, a mere twelve years later! Marred by the inclusion of film dialog on a couple otherwise inspired passages, this is prime Vangelis at his most spacious and synth-dominated (show of hands though: who else thought the film was patently dull?).
Voices seeks out uncharted territory along a cross-cultural axis featuring a variety of vocalists, on one (the better) half. "Ask the Mountains" could have come straight out of Twin Peaks, oozing atmosphere as it does. Moving to his latest offering... a soothing blend of rapturous melodies bathed in textural soundwaves evoking sea and surf, Oceanic unabashedly beseeches "File under 'N' for New Age." The idea is clichéd, fatally deprived of any promise of substance; and I can't help but admit to loving it. Maybe it's the classy Vangelis touch, or the arch-form pacing, but this sucker has an almost spiritual quality — only Robert John Godfrey can coax this kind of robustness from synthesizers — ideally suited to those moments when the ears don't want to be bashed, crashed, and mauled; but seduced.
Related artist(s): Vangelis (Evangelos Papathanassiou)
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more