Vangelis, "The City."
September 27, 2012 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Πολλών δ' ανθρώπων είδεν άστεα και νόον έγνω.

The album concept is a kind of apotheosis of city life, unmoored from the particulars of time and place, a panoramic view of a glamorous, ahistorical yesterday. The city wakes up at dawn. Its denizens shake off the last traces of sleep over the morning paper, embark on commutes via a tangled nerve center of roadways, explore obscure side streets, and take afternoon phone calls. As night nears, a pall of twilight covers the city, and the glow of red lights illuminates evening revelers. The day comes to a close, merely one in an endless procession that is both stately and funereal, ritualistic and melancholy. A new day dawns in the album's last moments, an ambivalent reminder of tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

The album is shamelessly sentimental and each track is melodically simple and composed in bold strokes. Quite unusually, though, several tracks are constructed around found sounds: footsteps, distant police sirens, coins clinking on a kiosk counter, the chime of the city clock, a moped engine. A number of evocative vocal samples feature prominently: the ohayashi chanting of a Japanese street festival in "Red Lights," one side of a phone conversation in "Good to See You," as well as the voices of director Roman Polanski and his third spouse, the model, actress, and singer Emmanuelle Seigner.

Notably, The City was also the first full Vangelis album to rely completely on the custom-designed Direct music device (tech discussion here, demo of a similar sequencer). The then-revolutionary Direct allowed Vangelis to greatly reduce the number of recording sessions and reportedly produce the album in a Rome hotel room where he was staying during the shooting of Polanski's Bitter Moon. During the same period Vangelis also staged one of his most fondly remembered live concerts, at the Terme di Caracalla.
posted by Nomyte (35 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
The first two people to favorite this post:

1. A Mefite with a William Gibson derived name who therefore certainly has the requisite "Blade Runner is Jesus" condition. (That'd be me)

2. A Mefite named after a creature from another Ridley Scott movie who, if one had to guess, also has some sort of affinity for Blade Runner.

....Yeah, that sounds about right for a post about a really excellent, moody Vangelis record.
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:29 PM on September 27, 2012


And 3rd equals Donnie Darko reference.
posted by maryr at 5:31 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing: considered apart from the movie, I find the Blade Runner soundtrack completely impenetrable and unengaging.
posted by Nomyte at 5:32 PM on September 27, 2012


If the only thing the blade runner soundtrack did was to make this trackpossible, it would be enough.
posted by subtle-t at 5:38 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The first two people to favorite this post:

1. A Mefite with a William Gibson derived name who therefore certainly has the requisite "Blade Runner is Jesus" condition. (That'd be me)

2. A Mefite named after a creature from another Ridley Scott movie who, if one had to guess, also has some sort of affinity for Blade Runner.


I have favourited the post. I believe my posting history speaks for itself.
posted by Artw at 6:09 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another cool Blade Runner-themed track.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:11 PM on September 27, 2012


The Dawn reminds me of another song although my tired brain can't think of it at the moment. Pink Floyd maybe? It's driving me crazy trying to remember.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:27 PM on September 27, 2012


It's killing me that I'm class and can't follow all these links right now. I'm looking forward to clicking through all of these when I get home.

The Blade Runner soundtrack is great, if you skip the songs (song?) with words.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:37 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


MaryDellamorte: The Dawn reminds me of another song although my tired brain can't think of it at the moment. Pink Floyd maybe? It's driving me crazy trying to remember.
It bears a passing resemblance to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" I think.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:02 PM on September 27, 2012


"eiden" and not "iden"?
posted by homerica at 7:46 PM on September 27, 2012


"eiden" and not "iden"?
posted by homerica


ἐπώνὑστερικαλ!
posted by Nomyte at 7:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's what you get when you go and make all your vowels sound the same. Goddamn phonological change.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:06 PM on September 27, 2012


I prefer his earlier more wigged out shit
posted by philip-random at 9:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


ob1quixote, that's it! Thank you, now I can sleep tonight.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:59 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Dawn reminds me of another song although my tired brain can't think of it at the moment. Pink Floyd maybe? It's driving me crazy trying to remember.

What you are thinking of is this. Unless you are suffering from 'the W.A. Effect', whereupon you are thinking of this.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:42 PM on September 27, 2012


When I clicked on philip-random's link, I was expecting this. I LOVE THAT SONG
posted by louche mustachio at 11:37 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've owned this album for years, and it is a favorite of both myself and my partner. Nice to see it on the blue.
posted by Goofyy at 3:17 AM on September 28, 2012


It's all Greek to me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:06 AM on September 28, 2012


When I clicked on philip-random's link, I was expecting this. yt I LOVE THAT SONG

I was looking for Four Horsemen but stumbled upon the even weirder Let Me Love Let Me Live. Aphrodite's Child is definitely a subject worth exploring, particularly that final album 666 in which no extreme is not explored. And then it flows over into his first solo album EARTH, which is well worth looking into.
posted by philip-random at 8:35 AM on September 28, 2012


Wasn't his first album that porn soundtrack?
posted by Nomyte at 8:37 AM on September 28, 2012


a little research reveals his first solo album was technically Dragon. No mention of it being a porn soundtrack ...

After the break-up of Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis wanted to relocate to London. Producer Giorgio Gomelsky introduced him to some other musicians and put together a collaborative project which was funded by French free jazz record label BYG records with the intention of releasing an album.[1] Some years later, Charly Records took over the catalogue of the bankrupt BYG records and released the recordings as an album in 1978 without the approval of the performers.
posted by philip-random at 8:55 AM on September 28, 2012


His porn album was Sex Power.
posted by Nomyte at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2012


I've always thought he hit his peak with Spiral in 1977 and was very disappointed with the subsequent rubbish of Beaubourg. "Bladerunner" was also quite nice, and I'll have to investigate this City, which somehow slipped under my radar.
posted by Rash at 11:17 AM on September 28, 2012


Vangelis- a man who has so delicately captured the majesty and wonder of the human race and the universe which contains her in a song.
posted by Algebra at 12:33 PM on September 28, 2012


Great album, I also love his El Greco.
posted by vkxmai at 12:41 PM on September 28, 2012


I've always thought he hit his peak with Spiral in 1977

The piece I recall from that is To the Unknown Man. Got a fair amount of radio play at the time as I recall.
posted by philip-random at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2012


During the same period Vangelis also staged one of his most fondly remembered live concerts

Every Vangelis concert is one of his most fondly remembered. He's only done 20 of them ever.
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on September 28, 2012


Vangelis- a man who has so delicately captured the majesty and wonder of the human race and the universe which contains her in a song

Really, if you're going to say that, you should hear the entire unified piece of which that is only a mere extracted snippet.

Heaven & Hell Part I (Includes Baccanale; Symphony To The Powers B; 2nd Movement; 3rd Movement; So Long Ago, So Clear [lyrics and vocals by Jon Anderson])

Heaven & Hell Part II (Includes Intestinal Bat; Needles & Bones; 12 O'Clock; Aries; A Way)
posted by hippybear at 2:26 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next you'll suggest listening to the complete catalog of Jon & Vangelis.
posted by Nomyte at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2012


I might suggest that sometime, but in this specific instance, I won't.

(My mind is still blown by the fact that both J and V insist that much of their material was fully improvised, recorded on the first take. Or maybe that's only one of their albums. I can't remember off the top of my head, but even if it's only one album, still pretty mindblowing.)

Anyway, this is a great post about an album that I don't know much about. I may be expanding my Vangelis collection soon!
posted by hippybear at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2012


Nomyte: "Πολλών δ' ανθρώπων είδεν άστεα και νόον έγνω."

That's not exactly the best way to sell a post to non-Greek people on Metafilter.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:45 PM on September 28, 2012


worked for me
posted by philip-random at 8:01 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The [more inside] was in English and led me to believe all would be explained within.
posted by maryr at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2012


I guess mystery meat posts are easier for people who have access to broadband. Carry on!
posted by dunkadunc at 11:51 PM on September 28, 2012


dunkadunc, I can see your point that. It's all too easy to assume that everyone's accessing the interwebs the same way, and they're obviously not -- a point I'll try to bear in mind with my future posts.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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