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Along with Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis is a key figure in the development of - to be loosely colloquial about it – trance and chill-out electronica. His 1970s work was proggy trip music, laced with classical aspirations that later came into their own.
Artists from Sven Väth to Air to Enigma owe him a debt, as do those involved in the current boom in soothing electro-classical sounds. His output over the decades has teetered between overblown orchestration and ear-pleasing, pulsing synth symphonies. Happily, on Juno to Jupiter, the balance is mostly likeable.
Of Vangelis’s four 21st century albums, three have been themed around space travel (the fourth, a solo piano affair, featured an image of the night sky on the cover, and was called Nocturne, so not exactly dissimilar terrain either). Juno to Jupiter is inspired by NASA’s Jupiter probe, and begins psychedelically with machine glitching playing off against muffled radio communication phrases such as “We’ve begun our two-and-a-half G throttle segment and the response looks good”. From there, we’re off on a journey.
It ebbs and flows, taking in many moods, sometimes within two consecutive pieces. For instance, the slow-rolling “Space’s Mystery Road” is akin to an Orb head-nodder, without the dub bass (and would sound great remixed!), but it flows straight into “In the Magic of Cosmos” which starts like Vangelis’s hugely loved Bladerunner soundtrack then becomes overwhelmed by over-lush romantic orchestration.
I was worried when I saw that the album featured opera star Angela Gheorghiu, imagining Montserrat Caballé “Barcelona”-style antics but, in fact, the three pieces that feature her soprano vocalising are flavoured more like Ennio Morricone, if with added bombast. One could just about imagine them playing as a dusty hero blurs into the horizon having dispensed lethal justice.
While sometimes over-opulent, the best of Juno to Jupiter conjures the vastness of space, giving a sense of human machine endeavour amid infinite emptiness. Tunes such as Jupiter’s Veil of Clouds and Jupiter’s Quiet Determination show that Vangelis, albeit playing more to the amphitheatre than the spliffed bedroom, still has juice in the tank.
1. Juno’s Power
2. Space’s Mystery Road
3. In the Magic of Cosmos
4. Juno’s Tender Call
5. Juno’s Echoes
6. Juno’s Ethereal Breeze
7. Jupiter’s Veil of Clouds
8. Hera / Juno Queen of the Gods
9. Zeus Almighty
10. Jupiter Rex
11. Juno’s Accomplishments
12. Apo 22
13. In Serenitatem
14. Cosmos Autopator