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Vangelis - Rosetta CD (album) cover

ROSETTA

Vangelis

 

Prog Related

3.58 | 21 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars `Rosetta' is a very unexpected but welcome return album from legendary Greek composer Vangelis, his first non-soundtrack work in over fifteen years, and an intelligent, exquisite and atmospheric work it proves to be. Space travel has been a recurring motif in some of the keyboardist's earlier back-catalogue, including 1976's experimental space physics-themed electronic work `Albedo 0.39' and the divisive neo-classical `Mythodea' in 2001, and the artist here offers a fully instrumental collection of elegant ambient/electronic compositions dedicated to the Rosetta space probe mission and its team.

Opener ` Origins (Arrival)' is a widescreen cinematic-flavoured synth overture with trickles of electronic loops dancing majestically in the classic Vangelis manner, regal organ piercing the black space canvass, drifting seamlessly into the sprinkling of chimes and low-key ebbing hum that infuses `Starstuff's gentle ambient caress and its lightest of rising/falling oscillations. Mystery permeates `Infinitude's classical sweep of synth choirs and emulated orchestration, tasteful romantic themes suddenly rising up between the glorious twinkling piano and ringing crystalline slivers of `Exo Genesis' that could have easily appeared on many of the artist's Seventies works, and the brief `Celestial Whispers' is a cooing synth lullaby. Gurgling break-neck sequencer patterns bounce over brooding darker soundtrack-like veils and tense rumbling drums throughout `Albedo 0.06', and the contemplative synth rumination of `Sunlight' rises with joyful grandeur in its uplifting second half.

The title track `Rosetta' is a strange one...it's a welcome change from what's been presented on the first half of the disc, but it implements guitars, trumpet and orchestration (hard to tell if they're all emulated on the keyboard or the real deal here, as no firm instrument list is provided in the CD booklet) to present a slightly syrupy romantic theme that would call to mind the pristine fragility of `La Petite Fille de la mer' off his wondrous early 1970 soundtrack `L'Apocalypse des Animaux' if it was much more restrained. `Philae's Descent' is another of those frantic and busy electronic- symphonic scores fraught with tension that popped up on his `Albedo 0.39' and `Heaven and Hell' LP's, while `Mission Accomplie (Rosetta's Waltz)' is a victorious synth fanfare that may remind some of his `Chariots of Fire' soundtrack.

`Perihelion' is far more intriguing, an electronic nightmare of bombastic orchestral-like blasts and wild distortion, but it oddly mines slight elements of well-known Pink Floyd pieces, mostly the darker synths of `Welcome to the Machine' and pulsing breathless beats of `On the Run', but there's also lovely light fizzing washes and electric piano tiptoes in the softly gliding outro. `Elegy' is one last sumptuous classical piece, and closer `Return To The Void' is a final spacey soundscape of liquid trickles and deep-space immersion teeming with life in the manner of early Tangerine Dream just as they were switching to more electronic dominated pieces. It's a beautifully surreal and trippy finish, and it's just a little bit of a shame that this set hold more of these sparse and dreamy pieces.

Although `Rosetta' doesn't quite recapture that schizophrenic, anything goes from album to album creativity and freedom of his first two decades (and nor should it have been expected to!), there's so many nods and instantly identifiable qualities to a wealth of past Vangelis works throughout it that fans of this master composer will lap up. Tasteful and sophisticated, yet certainly not commercial or anything close to something that could be dismissed merely as `New Age' music, `Rosetta' is a dignified and eloquent work from a master composter of intelligent music that progressive-electronic and eclectic keyboard works fans should highly appreciate.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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