02 February 2017

Review: Vangelis – Delectus (13-Disc Box Set) by The Progmeister

Review – Delectus (Box Set) 1973-1985 by Vangelis

Price:  Around £99.00 (dependent on where you buy it !!)

Released: 3rd February 2017

I’ve always had a great deal of respect and admiration for musicians that can create a soundtrack for a movie or series that totally encapsulates  the on-screen mood, feeling and action. The ultimate soundtrack will live with you forever to create a mental video – on that basis, Vangelis ranks up there with the best !!! Blade Runner (not included in this collection) is one of my all-time favourite movies and the accompanying soundtrack totally embraces the movie’s futuristic overtones and ambience. My first encounter with Vangelis was the album Heaven and Hell back in 1975, which also featured Jon Anderson, (the lead singer with Yes at the time) in the closing section of Part 1 – “So Long Ago, So Clear”, a collaboration which gave birth to three of the albums included here (see below)

For those of you who’ve never sampled the delights of this very prolific and innovative keyboard player, this box-set is probably a very good place to start.

You may be familiar with some of his more successful and well-known works like the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, 1492, Alexander, Missing and Antarctica, or maybe his collaboration with Jon Anderson of Yes fame (Jon & Vangelis), if so, you’re well catered for here, but also, if you’ve only maybe heard the theme to Chariots of Fire (probably one of the most inspiring and uplifting pieces of music ever written), this unique box-set will introduce you to many facets of Vangelis’ work, this is way beyond the work of a one-trick pony…

A 13-disc set, this collection encompasses the albums he released on Vertigo and Polydor between 1973 and 1985, now re-mastered on the Universal label by Vangelis himself  – ( “I always welcome remastering my old work for two basic reasons” – explains Vangelis – “firstly, I get the opportunity to bring the sounds to today’s standards, secondly, it gives me the chance to go through the experiences and memories of the time.”) and includes: Earth, L’Apocalypse des Animaux, China, See You Later, Antarctica, Mask, Opera Sauvage, Chariots Of Fire, Soil Festivities, Invisible Connections and (with Jon Anderson) Short Stories,  The Friends Of Mr Cairo and Private Collection plus 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks. Presented in a unique box with an essay, a wealth of rare photographs and a 64 page book which illustrates in great detail this prolific period of Vangelis’ career, this truly is a rare opportunity to indulge yourself in the work of a true electronic music pioneer.

Vangelis has, like most keyboard players, a unique style and at times you will sense an air of familiarity when sampling the delights on offer here, but overall there is literally “something for everyone”.

Fancy the more avant-garde style ?  Check out Invisible Connections (1985) !! You may listen to this album with its apparent random sequences of beeps, boings and bell sounds and wonder if it’s actually music AT ALL, but then move onto the soundtracks and be prepared for some of the most beautiful and atmospheric music you’ll ever hear, such is the diversity of music on offer here. Playing the albums one after the other, you are transported to a multitude of worlds that will uplift your soul.

Predominantly instrumental, but not as overtly electronic as you may think , despite the heavy use of synthesisers, vocals are used sparingly throughout to enhance rather than detract – Check out “Earth” (1973) where we’re entering World Music territory – conventional instruments and vocals blend with the future sound of keyboards to create, at times, a disconcerting mix of haunting melodies and age-old rhythms or the other-worldly feel of L’Apocalypse des Animaux (1973) with some truly beautiful and breath-taking atmospheric synth strings that very much pave the way for the aforementioned Blade Runner soundtrack. On the album “Opera Sauvage” (1979), the 3rd track L’Enfant is very familiar so I had to look it up and it was used in the movie “The Year Of Living Dangerously” (starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver) and such is the impact Vangelis has had on the movie World. As you progress through the set, you’ll hear a track you recognise and thus rack your brains trying to think where you’ve heard it before !! This is a journey of discovery in many ways. Maybe you crave something a bit more “mainstream”, then the Jon & Vangelis era (1980 – 1983) is for you with tracks like “I Hear You Now” , “I’ll Find My Way Home” and “State Of Independence” (3 of the hit singles you will probably remember) or, if you fancy something to inspire – Chariots Of Fire (1981) with the memorable theme tune, which was later used in the 2012 Olympics. Like I stated earlier, literally something for everyone.

With his recent work “Rosetta” (to commemorate the successful mission to land a probe on the comet of the same name) is there no end to this amazing man’s musical endeavours ???

This is a collection you will return to time and time again. Best heard on headphones in a dimly lit room, at times atmospheric and beautiful, at times haunting and disturbing, your emotions will be taken on a roller coaster ride, which is ultimately a sonic journey through the mind of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest composers – TOTALLY RECOMMENDED.

10 out of 10

The Progmeister