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Vangelis - The City CD (album) cover




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3.29 | 78 ratings

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4 stars Vangelis' 1990 album `The City' sees the electronic/avant-garde artist delivering a very focused, modern sounding, inspired and varied work. A concept album based around a day in the life of a city, beginning and ending with dawn through to dusk, it's full of sleek synths bringing a very city-urban, almost industrial flavoured instrumental sound, with little traces of late-night lonely jazz, plenty of ambient atmospheres and even some big symphonic bursts. There's plenty here that will appeal to fans of several of his other works, yet it also hints at some fresh and new directions the artist could have taken. Each album the Greek artist has delivered sounds completely different to the last, so this one is no exception!

Sedate and soothing opener `Dawn' is a lush and gentle new age/ambient synth drift, with just the very slightest hint of Rick's Wrights floating intro to Pink Floyd's `Shine On, You Crazy Diamond'. `Morning Papers' opens with panning footsteps, vocal snippets and clockwork chimes to set the scene before delicately melancholic soft jazzy pattering, electric piano tip-toes and synthesized flute weave an urban soundscape. By comparison, `Nerve Centre' will come as a shock! Clanging, metallic, industrial percussive programming loops twist around gutsy electric guitar grinding that sounds like it's stepped off one of those late 80's/early 90's Tangerine Dream albums, with dramatic staccato male and female synth choir punctuations in the second half. It's really quite a daring piece, with a cold, decadent sound and almost a heavy groove as well. A looped female cry, murmuring low-key bass with cello, saxophone and acoustic guitar - but all synthesised - move together throughout `Side Streets', but some big booming orchestral interjections are a little intrusive.

`Good To See You' is a slinking mid-tempo chill-out, and the mix of drowsy synth sax, clicking beats and placid comforting synths sound like something French band Air would deliver years later! Album standout `Twilight' could have easily appeared on his fragile little `Antarctica' soundtrack from back in 1983. A constant gentle synth breeze lightly bristles the background, and a careful pulse ebbs behind a sombre but pretty electric piano melody, one of those impossibly lovely themes you instantly associate with this artist. `Red Lights' is a fairly throwaway buoyant funky piece with AOR sax and lively chattering female voices that lets the album down a little. But the almost ten minute album closer `Procession' more than makes up for it. With plenty of build and tension carried by a Greek folk-influenced stirring synth cello theme, then later accordion, grandiose synth choirs and marching drumming grow in bombast into a massive fanfare in the climax.

Despite faltering slightly on that second last track, `The City' is mostly full of fresh influences and colourful arrangements, and there's actually a sense of fun to some of it as well! Listen to `The City' as one complete continuous piece for the best results, and although there's probably not a lot of actual depth to it, you'll still discover plenty of multi- layered and tasty instrumental concoctions. Vangelis has always been a multi-faceted, definitely unique and distinctive artist, doing whatever takes his fancy and presenting a bewildering range of styles and ideas. That just means a fascinating and unpredictable catalogue of work, and followers of his many musical personalities should find much to interest them here.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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