composer’s futuristic synthscapes changed film forever

Wencapsulating the bravery and glory of Olympic endurance or the decay of a backward future cityscape, the constructs of the composer Vangelis, who passed away yesterday (May 19) at the age of 79 , bounce off the screen to influence popular culture. Like only a handful of great soundtracks, his scores go far beyond their cinematic roots. Embark on the electropop revolution, the evocative synthesis system of Train and Blade Runner helped put electronic music at the heart of the 1980s.

And while his immediate influence on artists like Enya, Enigma and the Cocteau Twins is obvious, his sound blueprint would become the basis for a wide range of electronic music including electro death, surroundings and contemporary actions. In almost any piece of music that uses an ’80s back-to-modern synth atmosphere – The Weeknd, HAIM, Kendrick, Perfume Genius, Mitski, you name it – there’s a hint of Vangelis in there.

As with many of the most notable soundtracks of his time, Vangelis’ film work has always been paralleled with a career associated with pop and rock music. Born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou on March 29, 1943, in Agria, Greece, Vangelis has been composing pioneering works on the family piano involving nails, pans, and stationary radios since the age of four, and developed a love of rock and jazz in adolescence. . Having acquired his first Hammond organ at the age of 18, in 1963 he debuted The Forminx, which was a success in Europe with nine singles and a Christmas EP within three years while Vangelis also participated. scored in movies like My brother, traffic police (1963), Madness (1966) and 5,000 lies (In 1966).

Blade Runner
Harrison Ford in ‘Blade Runner’. CREDIT: Alamy

In 1968, as Greece descended into political turmoil following the 1967 coup, Vangelis moved to Paris, where he began celebrating The Child by professional band Aphrodite with Demis Roussos. His brilliant idea led them to record a circus themed double album called ‘666’ based on the 1971 Book of Revelation. Although the album would be critically acclaimed, the Musical stress during the recording process led to their split prior to their 1972 release. While continuing to produce Roussos records, Vangelis embarked on a solo career with the song ‘Fais que ton rêve soit plus long’ que la nuit’ in 1972, inspired by the French student riots of 1968. Moving to London in 1975 and setting up a studio in a Marble Arch flat which he called “the laboratory”, he will continue to record electronic solo albums on themes of dualism, Taoist philosophy, Center Paris Pompidou and Chinese culture for RCA.

Meanwhile, he continued to develop his soundtrack work on films such as Henry Chapier’s . Love (1973) and nature documentaries including La Fête Sauvage (1975) and Opera Sauvage (In 1979). In 1974, he also auditioned to replace keyboardist Rick Wakemen in the professional band Yes but turned down the opportunity due to visa problems and travel reluctance. He then embarked on a successful collaboration with singer Jon Anderson; The first of four albums they made as Jon And Vangelis, 1980’s ‘Short Stories’, peaked at number four in the UK, while their 1981 single ‘State Of Independence’ became a hit by Donna Summer .

Vangelis’ profile would explode, however, when he signed on to Hugh Hudson’s 1981 sports film soundtrack. Train. His legendary theme, using a synthesizer where classical orchestral standards are standard, has become one of the most recognizable movie soundtracks ever – and earned him number one hits. in the United States for both single and album, along with the 1982 Academy Award for Best Original Score. It would also be used at the 1984 Winter Olympics, and became the sound of sporting achievement around the world. “[The] The main inspiration was the story itself,” Vangelis said of the track. “The rest I followed instinctively, thinking about nothing else, but expressing my feelings using the technological means available to me at the time.”

Train
‘Chariots Of Fire’ is Vangelis’ big cinematic breakthrough. CREDIT: Alamy

Next Train and his wonderful reminiscences of sci-fi astigmatism for Ridley Scott Blade Runner (1982) – for which he refused to allow discography until 1994 – Vangelis was flooded with offers for the soundtrack. He chooses carefully, rejecting what he likes 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel in favor of Mel Gibson’s seafarer drama Bonus in 1984 and won even more awards and acclaim for his music for Missing (1982), 1492: Conquering Heaven (1994) and Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon (1992). Meanwhile, he turned to theater and ballet, more nature documentaries (working with Jacques Cousteau) and themed solo albums. For instance, 1985’s ‘Invisible Connections’ focused on the world of elementary particles, while 1990’s ‘City’ reflected the bustle of a single day in Rome.

In his final decades, amid landmark soundtracks like those of Oliver Stone Alexander (2004) and work on cultural events including a piece for the Stephen Hawking memorial in 2018 (in tribute to Hawking, his music was projected into the nearest black hole), a hobby of Vangelis to Greek mythology and space dominated his work. In 2014, he collaborated with the European Space Agency to create music to accompany the Philae lander to Comet 67P, while his last studio album, 2021’s ‘Juno To Jupiter’, was inspired from NASA’s Juno mission. For such a public shy artist – it’s still unclear how many marriages he’s been through, or where he’s lived most of his life – his music seems as vast as the dance itself. pillar.

https://www.nme.com/features/film-features/vangelis-obituary-blade-runner-chariots-of-fire-3230284?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=vangelis-obituary-blade-runner-chariots-of-fire composer’s futuristic synthscapes changed film forever

Emma James

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