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Vangelis - Rosetta CD (album) cover

ROSETTA

Vangelis

 

Prog Related

3.59 | 26 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The first Vangelis album in fifteen years not affiliated with a movie soundtrack doesn't fully rekindle the same creative spark as his best work from the 1970s, but it likely won't disappoint fans. The origin of the album and its connection to the European Space Agency Rosetta mission, which in 2014 successfully landed the first probe on the surface of a comet, is detailed elsewhere in these Archives. But the music stands well enough on its own without the ESA endorsement, as an extension of its author's fascination with astronomy: always a reliable taproot for Progressive Electronic music.

The new album works best when exploring the ambiance of infinity, as heard in the opening tracks after with the robust "Origins" fanfare: quintessential Vangelis, grandiose and elegant. His vision of the cosmos is both awe-inspiring and yet totally benign, always able to locate a beautiful melody in the vacuum of outer space, unlike the intimidating voids conjured by early Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze.

But even on an interplanetary trajectory the album never achieves the escape velocity needed to outpace its earthbound neo-symphonic synth arrangements. The music of Vangelis is always less interesting when the composer indulges his middlebrow classical instincts (think "Chariots of Fire"), and with all his state-of-the-art digital equipment the results here are too often indistinguishable from a genuine orchestra in search of another movie to score. Listen to "Sunlight" for proof, as it approaches the romantic majesty and bombast of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to an imaginary Sergio Leone sci-fi epic: "Once Upon a Time in the Asteroid Belt".

More compelling (if equally melodramatic) is the "Rubycon"-era Berlin School sequencing at the start of "Perihelion", which I like to think was an homage to the memory of Edgar Froese, sadly relocated to a new Cosmic Address while this album was being recorded. And the late Carl Sagan is likewise indirectly honored in the title ballad: an updated echo of the stately Vangelis classic "Alpha", famously used in the original PBS TV series "Cosmos". Note too the track named "Albedo 0.06", presumably identifying the reflective coefficient of comet 67P/C-G: less than one sixth of Earth's Albedo 0.39, for new music not quite diminished to an equal degree from the celebrated 1976 album of the same title.

"Rosetta" was nominated for Best New Age Album at the 59th Grammy Awards, a double insult to an artist of any integrity (the first affront being the nomination itself; the second was the lame-ass category). The album is in fact a respectable and at times even persuasive accomplishment, from an internationally-honored composer who at age 73 no longer needs to prove himself, and certainly not to the corporate bean-counters of the U.S. Recording Academy at their annual back-patting ritual.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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