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Vangelis Soil Festivities album cover
3.58 | 105 ratings | 11 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Movement 1 (18:32)
2. Movement 2 (6:20)
3. Movement 3 (6:10)
4. Movement 4 (9:57)
5. Movement 5 (7:20)

Total Time 48:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Evangelos Papathanassiou / performer, arranger & producer

Note: The actual instrumentation was not available at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Alwyn Clayden

LP Polydor ‎- POLH 11 (1984, UK)

CD Polydor ‎- 823 396-2 (1984, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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VANGELIS Soil Festivities ratings distribution

(105 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

VANGELIS Soil Festivities reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
2 stars This album impressed me when I first bought it; it sounded a bit different, and I thought that there was an edge to it that was lacking before. As years went by, though, each piece seemed unfocused, too repetitious, or just plain unoriginal. I'm sure that someone who owned only this album by Vangelis would find it wonderfully creative, but I've already got over a dozen (plus the Aphrodite's Child stuff). By this time, I was ready for Vangelis to do something new, which soon happened with "Invisible Connections".
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Soil festivities has the making of a great piece of work but loses itself on not being unique in any clearly defined way. Don't get me wrong I like it quite a lot all the movements are strong particularly part four and five but there is a diluted ' feel' to the album which perhaps is just me missing something. There are many excellent albums by Vangelis, personally SF just does not quite make it as an overall work. For collectors only definitely.
Review by richardh
4 stars Now this is Vangelis doing ''new age'' ! ..and doing it extremely well.I have to admit I like a lot of new age stuff..strap on the haadphones, relax back in your sofa and let the music take you away..Then you wake up!! OK by many peoples definitions this is boring BUT Vangelis is so talented that you must not ignore any of his music.This is still very good of its kind.Undemanding and atmospheric music that creates a pleasant ambience.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Soil festivities" sounds a bit like the "Mask" album: it was just made the year before "Mask". The loaded & floating keyboards are often echoed, giving a feeling of grandeur to the whole. The rhythm (low frequency synth notes) is slow, but many times changing.

My favorite track is "Movement 4", which takes all its time to reveal all its majestic power in the form of apocalyptic & floating streams of keyboards. "Movement 4" sounds like "Mask" and I really appreciate it! "Movement 5" is very symphonic and dynamic. If you like "Mask", then you should at least like some bits on this record. But I really prefer "Mask", because it has the mythological & religious dimension that is not really present here.

Review by Matti
4 stars I guess this is closest to ambient that VANGELIS ever came. To some degree I'm fond of this album, partly because it has memory links to my first love, and yet it has never been among my biggest favourites by VANGELIS. It was actually the first and second movements only that I taped long ago. Now I'm listening to the whole album again and I like also movements 4 and 5. Still the 3rd one doesn't turn me on: a bit chaotic flights of synths and percussion. What I always liked most about Soil Festivities - or the long 1st movement to be exact - is the strong image of moist and lively worlds of microcosmos, the creatures in the soil. Consider the sleeve pictures and the album title: that secret world is the theme, the inspiration, for this album. Only I'm not so sure if the image remains as strong on all movements.

1st movement (18:32): the repetitious, pulsative synth background with various sharper synth sounds functions really meditatively to the concentrating listener. It's not quite like any other music by VANGELIS but to me one of his best pieces. The sound effects of rain may not be very original but they fit perfectly. The 2nd movement (6:20) has more or less similar pulsative nature. It is slower, calmer and not so strong in evoking images, but its wailing synth melodies are equally beautiful.

4th movement (9:57): yes, it reminds of Mask, the next album, and is among the highlights. And the 5th movement (7:20) could be described as the most symphonic and triumphant one. How on earth I originally missed these two great movements? I recommend this album to those who enjoy ambient music with an orientation to evoke inner images. Especially if you find the theme, the microcosmos of the soil, interesting, check it out! 3½ stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I bought this album as soon as it was released and initially I disliked it. I was hoping to find a symphonic prog masterpiece like Heaven and Hell and I was very disappointed with this tendentially newage album. In addition to this, the same year I saw him live in one of the worst improvised concerts I've ever seen, even if the landscape of the Caracalla ruins in Rome was very impressive. I was about to quit with Vangelis that year.

I resisted and gave more spins to this album. It was not bad. Only different from what I was looking for in that specific moment. A bit more fantasy in the choice of the tracks titles whould have been appreciated, in any case.

"Movement one" is long as an epic, but it has little variations. It's more like a Krautrock or space rock track. Just some more melodic than what Edgar Froese was used to do. Some sounds remind to the OST of Blade Runner, but there are some sounds that are typical of Vangelis and can remind to any of his works. It flows very softly. Many people is used to define Vangelis as a newage artist, but try to add a Mediterranean touch to Tangerine Dream and you'll have a description of his music in this period. Don't confuse "Mediterranean" with "Sunshine" It can be wintertime in Greece too, and this is music for a rainy day, stigmatized by thunders and rain in the final part of the suite. This is likely the reason why he started to be considered a newage artist, but the use of Nature's sounds doesn't always mean newage. Is Edgar Froese debut newage?

"Movement two" is based on the same tempo, but the sound that gives the tempo is different. The melody is provided by a "violin" (It's everything made by keyboards, but speaking of violin takes less than writing "sound of violin"). Whenever the chord changes, the passage is never trivial. Again a good piece of space music.

"Movement three" Starts darker than the previous two tracks. There are echoes of "China" in the use of percussions (same as violin, of course), but this really reminds to Albedo 0.31, in particular to "Nucleogenesis". This can't be called newage in any way. It's dark space rock. Some bells remind to the Hell section of Heaven and Hell, too. At around minute 4, the rhythmless dark sounds give room to an orchestral part, still chaotic which ends inaspectately with major chords in the best Vangelis tradition before going back to the darkness and fading out.

"Movement Four" Starts with four Xylophone(same as violin and percussions) notes on which a flute-like sound blows the tune. The variations here are given by the percussions. This is quite a dark version of "Alpha"(Albedo 0.39). Then the pitch starts to change and the passages are used to introduce a symphonic element. It happens three times, then the track is back to the original mood. Now other than percussions we have fender piano, fretless bass and octavine (all championed, of course). An hypnotic track.

Finally, "Movement Five". It's not chaotic as Nucleogenesis but it looks like an improvised track (even if you can't never say with Vangelis). It's very hard to describe as it changes several times and alternates melodic and chaotic parts very frequently, The result is a sort of springtime after all the dark winter days of the first four movements.

I suggest this album to Space Rock and Krautrock fans. Many people considers Vangelis newage probably for his most melodic soundtracks, but this album is not the case.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars After the release of the excellent «Antarctica », Vangelis explores more into the new age territories with this very quiet « Soil Festivities ».

The album is divided into five movements, but it might as well be considered as one long and single track. The whole album is very repetitive and sounds as a very similar stuff from start to finish. There are some fine experimentations and sonic landscapes but I would have liked some more grandeur in the style.

You have been warned: don't expect anything ą la "Antarctica" or you might be disappointed. This album is quite daring and definitely explores less commercial ways than several of its predecessor. At times, it is fine to see that an artist is willing to take some risks and avoids some routine work.

Still, this is quite a different album in the whole of the artist's career. It is not my fave but I it is interesting enough to rate it with three stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars After Vangelis had finished his foray into a more popular and accessible style through the early 80's, he came to the conclusion that he didn't have to necessarily always make his albums accessible. His output during this time included the "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack, work with Jon Anderson (as Jon & Vangelis) and a few more accessible solo albums. However, this wasn't giving him the satisfaction he needed as far as his compositional and improvisational style called for. So, in 1984, he returned to his more experimental style and he started this new phase with the album "Soil Festivities".

This album is probably one of his most progressive albums in quite a while, and it is a pleasure to hear him return to this form. Vangelis moves away from his most recognizable style of melodic tracks to a more improvisational style based upon nature, specifically as seen through the eyes of "life in miniature". Before you think that this seems like a new age type of recording, think again. This one is much more hypnotic and experimental in nature, the first side being jubilant and the second side much darker and sinister sounding. But overall, he leaves behind structure for the most part and becomes more experimental and going wherever the music takes him, but based upon a concept.

Movement 1 - Opens with a thunder crash and the sound of rain. In the background, we hear a single repeated note that sounds like it could signify a steady drip, drip, drip that continues while improvised synths play over the top with some nice harmonies. The overall feeling of the track is playful and joyous, a celebration of life in the world. Though there doesn't seem to be a strong melody in this very long track (over 18 minutes), the synths are still song-like and almost seem like short structured passages at times. The percussion is sometimes complex, never really following a pattern and the bass is quite captivating and really stands out at times. There are many sounds and timbres going on throughout the track. Surprisingly enough, it never gets dull, but instead, with the steady "dripping" tone in the background, can be quite hypnotizing. The last part of the track is calmer surrounded by thunder crashes and sparkling keys.

Movement 2 - This one is more tranquil feeling with a two tone, repeating motif in the background that changes with the chord/key changes that are directed by a lovely synth. This time, the music is more melodic, though the melody is probably improvised. The first part is accented by high notes which later is replaced by lower string effects later, almost feeling like the action from the first movement is coming to rest and dusk is approaching.

Movement 3 - In contrast to the first 2 movements, this one is quite a bit darker and seemingly discordant, probably representing the harshness of nature. There is quite a bit of chaos and menacing sounds making the scene seem violent and unpredictable. Once again, there is no real melody here as there has been in the more accessible Vangelis albums. Instead it is dramatic, a bit noisy and dissonant at times, though it also resolves for short spaces only to turn sinister again. The end of the movement does have a feeling of victory, however.

Movement 4 - Slow and pensive, this one rolls along based off of a three note cadence that persists throughout the track while a minimal synth plays over the top and occasional thumping percussion rumbles sounding like far off explosions. This keeps the overall dark timbre of the previous track, but much less chaotic, however there is still a sense of danger in the air with the suspense generated from the synths and keys.

Movement 5 - This track is probably the most improvisational of the album as tempos are always shifting, the percussion is more unpredictable (almost symphonic in style), and styles and moods constantly shift from happy to dark, melodic to chaotic. This is one of his most progressive tracks in his discography.

I really find this album to be one of my favorites in Vangelis' works. It seems that he has a lot more say in where he wanted this album to go, and since it is mostly improvised, it seems like it is more from the heart and less like the formulaic albums that he had been producing previous to this. I have always liked his style but there have been some weak albums in his past. This is not one of them. If you aren't familiar with the improvisational Vangelis, then you should probably give this album a chance. I think "Soil Festivities" is one that is meant more for the music lovers that like their music unpredictable and complex, not based off of melodies.

Latest members reviews

3 stars One of two albums released in the same year. With all the soundtracks and collaborations with Jon Anderson, it is good to hear some pure Vangelis. As usual, this one is very different from its predecessors, yet reminiscent of many of them. There is a greater sense of unity in this recording ... (read more)

Report this review (#292772) | Posted by Progosopher | Friday, July 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my 'Desert Island Disk'. From the moment I heard it I knew it was special. Over twenty years later and its even more so, not just for sentimental reasons, but also because I have found out a little about Vangelis in the mean time and now know that this, like so many of his other albums ... (read more)

Report this review (#68875) | Posted by | Thursday, February 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I followed Vangelis' career closely back in those days, and I had every single one of his albums. By the time 'Soil Festivities' was released I was into lots of other stuff, but this album brought me right back home. Like all of Vangelis' music, it really drives the imagination, but because of h ... (read more)

Report this review (#34774) | Posted by | Saturday, May 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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