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Vangelis - Opéra Sauvage (OST) CD (album) cover




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3.48 | 94 ratings

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4 stars I'm a little surprised at the low score for this 1979 Vangelis album...not to be confused with 'La Fête Sauvage', his 1976 soundtrack for yet another nature film by Frédéric Roussif. This one may not have been as widely available as his premier studio albums of the era (and was likely overshadowed by the release of the more muscular 'China' that same year). And it deliberately lacks the bombastic synthesizer chords and melodramatic drum fills of his most popular albums ('Albedo 0.39', 'Spiral').

But this was Vangelis at his mid-1970s creative peak, when the Greek synth-rock wizard perfected the unique sound that set him apart from other keyboard superstars of the '70s. The album presents a more gentle but no less passionate variation of the same musical vision, highlighting the proto-New Age romanticism he almost could have patented: a combination of lush symphonic synth-strings and jazzy Fender Rhodes electric piano, sprinkled with exotic percussion.

Vangelis always had a knack for thematic hooks, and this album (even more than some of his others) is filled to capacity with melodies so simple and yet so haunting they can't help but sound familiar. Maybe for good reason: a lot of the music was used elsewhere, in television commercials and in the soundtracks of other, more widely seen films.

The evocative 'L'Enfant' was borrowed by director Peter Weir for his 1982 movie 'The Year of Living Dangerously'. The album opener 'Hymne' was featured in the Oscar© winning score of Hugh Hudson's 'Chariots of Fire' (the director had likewise wanted to use 'L'Enfant', in the now famous title sequence, until Vangelis introduced a new piece at the last moment. The rest, as they say, is history). And the atmospheric film-noir synth-harmonica in 'Reve' clearly anticipated his later, legendary soundtrack to Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner'.

The album even reunited Vangelis with JON ANDERSON of YES, who plays some evocative harp on the dynamic album closer 'Flamants Roses'. At nearly twelve minutes it's one of the longer tracks here, and easily the most overtly proggy, offering another clue to what YES might have sounded like if Vangelis had agreed to replace RICK WAKEMAN.

Vangelis has released a lot of music in his ongoing career. But 'Opera Sauvage' certainly earns a top spot on the short list of his overlooked gems.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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