Vangelis - The City

Album cover

  1. Dawn (4:16)
  2. Morning Papers (3:55)
  3. Nerve Centre (5:30)
  4. Side Streets (4:13)
  5. Good To See You (6:51)
  6. Twilight (4:57)
  7. Red Lights (3:55)
  8. Procession (9:33)

Atlantic, 1990

also by Vangelis:

see also... Jon and Vangelis, Jon Anderson, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tomita, Tangerine Dream

Vangelis's music helped to create one of the most successful cityscapes of all time in the film Blade Runner. The second studio album from his digital-synth era (after "Direct") is a dreamy reflection on a day in the life of a mellower, less rain-sodden metropolis. It's not as full-on with the production as "Direct", and there are far fewer digital and new-age cliches. This time he's relatively restrained and minimal, and lets his masterfully-designed sounds speak for themselves.

It starts with a spacious "Dawn", and some lovely gloopy sounds. This is so much like the intro to Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" that I always expect Dave Gilmour to enter with those four notes. Maybe the fat strings here are a little too heavy for that time in the morning. The brush percussion and atmospheric vibes lend a mellow, exotic feel to "Morning Papers". As the day gets moving the musical activity is increased with a bustling pair of poppier instrumentals. "Nerve Centre"'s industrial percussion is reminiscent of Jarre's "Industrial Revolution".

In the afternoon the action subsides. "Good To See You" has a pleasant tune in the rhythm of the title. The reflective harp solo on the spacious "Twilight" accompanies a lazy early evening. The Oriental vocal samples on "Red Lights" evoke sleazy beckoning girls. The broad, stately finale "Procession" is more of a traditional Vangelis symphonic wide-screen soundtrack.

Snatches of urban conversation (including director Roman Polanski) and sound effects are used as links and decoration throughout in a non-cheesy manner. Although it might be overlooked as new-age music, the imagination in these musical responses to the environment is the hallmark of Vangelis.

December 30, 2004

7 out of 10

see also...

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson