At its worst, the music of Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist Vangelis is full of sounds and furies that signify absolutely nothing. At its best, his recordings incorporate many types of sounds and beautiful and memorable melodies that nod in the direction of a number of different musical styles without destroying the overall mood of his records. Certainly, he is one of the great popularizers of the synthesizer, and the first to win an Oscar for his completely synthetisized score to the 1981 film Chariots of Fire.
So evocative of the tale of the great British runners was his music, for which he was awarded with an Oscar, and that further propelled him as a film music composer of higher stature. The following year he would create probably his most important music when he scored Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi opus Blade Runner
This masterpiece of dystopian science fiction has been the longest work in progress, as through the years it was reshaped and re- released as a Director's Cut and finally in 2007 as Final Cut (boxed in a metal case with plenty of different cuts and other material). It is a seamless portrait of the future that glossed on neon-laced decay, where overcrowded cities were full of hustlers, strugglers and street gangs, and the sky was lit by giant corporate logos and video billboards that hyped exotic getaways on other planets. Based loosely on Philip K Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
, it presents a vision of Los Angeles circa 2019, in which a policeman is hunting androids (replicants). Eerily evocative of a very plausible (though perhaps more distant) future, Scott's vision was perfectly complemented by Vangelis' unearthly score, which deploys grand pianos, keyboards and synthesizers to memorable effect.
But just as the film itself has had a difficult birth, production, and afterlife, spawning its various different versions, so has its soundtrack had a similar life path. Inexplicably, the score was never properly released at the time, due to a dispute between the composer and the auteurit was released as a symphonic version, until East West did so in 1994. Subject to widespread bootlegging, it wasn't until 2007 that it was released with the film's Final Cut, as a triple album with plenty of unreleased material. This edition is the re-release of the 1994 album that has been expertly mastered for a Limited 24kt Gold SACD Hybrid pressing.
Vangelis is a master builder, and throughout his architecture is multilayered, solid and tangible, yet amorphous and cloudy. The textures which Vangelis coaxes are fabulous. He activates unusual angles and sends those textures sliding into another. So luminous are his touches on the keys, and so spatial the production sound, that again and again the effect is one of ensemble music or the luster of organic instruments. For Vangelis, electronic and organic sounds are legitimate sources of material with which to beautify his work. The overall feeling is of icy alienation in a world inhabited by machines with emotions.
Vangelis' soundtrack to the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner
still stands as one of the twentieth century's greatest achievements in sound. It functions on various levels. As a soundtrack, it is an integral part of the movie, a character of its own that strengthens the moods and illuminating the story rather than merely following it. As an album, it is a near perfect collection of atmospheric sculptures that provide an intriguing listen. It is a prime example of how to make soundtrack music sounding evocative and emotional. Remarkably dramatic, even visual, it deserves recognition as one of the finest soundtracks of all time.