RIP Vangelis

suspended

Well-known member
tough to access the legacy of artists like this (and jean michel jarre, klauz schultz) because what made them good was essentially that they were complete fucking oblivious idiots. the earlier modernists were sharp enough to realize that electronic music afforted new compositional possibilities, had the potential to drastically differ from what came before in terms of how it was both heard and composed, but the results of all their work were often abstruse and unsensual. on the other hand, it never even occurred to people like vangelis that they should do anything with the new tech but what was most obvious, what it had already been drilled into their heads that musicians should do: namely, noodle around on a standard tuning keyboard until they'd arrived at a few pleasant tonal chord progressions and melodies. this worked out because, as suspended has talked about, traditions often exist for a good reason, and to western ears simple tonal music is often pleasant and easy to emotionally access. but the "futuristic" qualities in this music that mean so much to the over 40s who were blown away by blade runner or whatever as kids are entirely to the credit of the people who designed the tech itself. not the egotists who saw electronic music as piano playing with a few extra bells and whistles added. vangelis et al were simply lucky enough to get there before the millions of people who make comparable music now. tbf they were no doubt also a bit more naturally gifted, a bit more industrious as well. but still. their music is a glorified synth demo. there was no lateral thinking involved, they just had to decide which chord to hold down after selecting a preset. before and after his death vangelis has been touted as this "visionary" but he was the complete fucking opposite, a complacent unthinking conduit of his time.

tl;dr i'm sure if i dug into his back catalogue i'd find some music by vangelis i liked, but i know he wasn't an Audio Animator, he wasn't a genius.
Listen to "Love Theme."

I'm sure you've heard it before. Listen again.

Do you hear the way it breathes? The way the sax drifts and floats like smoke from a cigarette, into a night sky filled with bright, arpeggiated stars?

The way those keyboard "stars" ascend, so your gaze is drawn up into the depths of the sky, the cosmos, the unknown, with them? How much dark space they inhabit, alone, and yet manage to light up? How despite the sad, quiet darkness, there is an undercurrent of hope in their beauty and light?

Yes, they're simple synth chords underneath, but the restraint. For a while it's just I and IV chords. Their alternation says: "Sometimes the world is like that. But sometimes it's like this."

And then how, when the minor 7 comes in, it's so full of mystery and intrigue? These moments of wonder and dark complication that suggest there is a whole unknown world beyond the I and the IV?

Do you see how the first ten seconds are like dropping a big red curtain over the stage, only to lift it and reveal the drama to come? Can you feel how that drama is somehow both intensely micro—small, personal, irrelevant—and cosmically large and eternal?
 

suspended

Well-known member
When I listen to Love Theme I hear peace and awe and wonder.

I get what you're saying about Vangelis as a producer. You're right that he falls short of exemplary in the values framework you lay out. He is not a great manipulator of machines. Much of the sound texture that he relies upon was designed by others.

But few composers do design their sound. They are ultimately arrangers of texture. Not designers of it. And what Vangelis understands is human beings and mood.

"Stranger On The Shore" is not a great jazz song by any stretch of the imagination. But it is a wonderful song. Does that make any sense?
 

mvuent

Void Dweller
when i harshly criticize an artist, particularly one i imagine to be well liked by the people who will read what i said, it isn’t because i want to be a jerk and shut down people who like the artist—so much as in the hopes that whati said can serve as a foil for a spirited defense of said artist’s work that might lead to my better appreciating it. so i’m really glad you immediately picked up on this with that excellent close reading of “love theme” sus.

still, although its purpose has now been fulfilled, i might as well try to clarify what i was getting at in the post you're responding to. it’s not that vangelis did not meet some kind of threshold of technical involvement in his music, which i think is what you’re alluding to with the notion of “designing textures”? a good reference point might actually be this post of yours:
IMO the true break from normiedom is concurrent with a kind of awareness of the condtructedness/aribtrariness of ones cultural norms, and the freedom that follows from this awareness. It is about de-naturalizing and de-objecticizing social reality. And becoming open to many worlds of possible being and existing and experiencing as a result. And building your own little world and code from pieces salvaged and schlepped.
you might say that my issue with vangelis is that he could, i think, be accurately described as a total normie aesthetically. now, being eccentric surely isn’t necessary if you want to be a good person; being normal might actually help. likewise, being aesthetically eccentric isn’t necessary if you want to create emotionally arresting music; sticking closely to tradition/convention might actually help. but maybe in music the advantage of breaking from convention, of being open to the possibility of other worlds, is that it frees you to not just create something emotionally resonant but to create something that operates on a previously untapped frequency of emotional resonance. this is, of course, not an objective metric. no two works of music are going to have the exact same emotional effect on a listener, and it’s up to you to decide which are the important breakthroughs. to my ears vangelis’ music makes no such breakthroughs.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
This is about as close to Vangelis as you can get without actually being Vangelis: four hours of Bladerunnerish ambient synthscapes, created entirely through procedural generation (i.e. random sequences triggering other random sequences, as far as I can make out). No human interaction until the very end, when it's time to die, like tears in the rain. Er, I mean, time to fade out. It doesn't really go anywhere, granted, but it's pretty nice to listen to.


Poss @woops @wektor interest?
 

luka

Well-known member
i associate normies with gym wear, leggings, gilets, smooth, untroubled faces, above average height, home ownership
 
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