Revisiting Vangelis – 1492 – Conquest Of Paradise

While webbing the net for analogue synthesis, I stumbled on Vangelis once again.

So I listened to some of his work. Started with the album Antarctica, moved on to the soundtrack of one of my all time fave movies Bitter Moon by Roman Polanski and ended up (for now) with 1492 – Conquest Of Paradise.

I’ve seen the film multiple times and always loved the soundtrack but never listened to it by itself. No images, just the soundtrack. And it’s gorgeous.

1492 - Conquest Of Paradise

1492 – Conquest Of Paradise

Early 80’s synth music has been an enormous influence in me becoming a musician; Kitaro, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Tomita… those names. When I was little Harry, the first music that I ever recorded with my Technics SX-K200 home keyboard and Philips 4-Track tape recorder was Kitaro’s Silk Road.

Technics SX-K200

Technics SX-K200

philips n4506 stereo tape deck

The joy I’ve had with my tape recorder…

Now one would call it ambient music I guess. Back then all I knew is that is was made with synthesizers. And I wanted one!

After hearing Giorgio Moroder, Pete Belotte, Patrick Cowley, Jolley & Swain (Imagination), Bobby -O- Orlando and Depeche Mode, I knew what I wanted to make of myself in life…

Anyway, find 1492 – Conquest Of Paradise and have (another) listen. It’s beautiful. Twenty Eighth Parallel is my fave track. Watch the movie too if you have the chance.

Yamaha CS-80

Vangelis’ (former) secret strings weapon : The now legendary Yamaha CS-80…ahem.. presets.

Kitaro's secret weapon: Korg 700s

Kitaro’s secret lead synth weapon: Korg 700s

Tony Swain's (Imagination) secret bass synth weapon: Roland SH-1000

Tony Swain’s (Imagination) secret bass synth weapon: Roland SH-1000

Lemon8's secret weapon

Lemon8’s secret wea..oh..Oops!

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My Origines Part 1

Watching the Synth Brittania documentaries on BBC4 today, put me in a nostalgic mood. Seeing all my heroes like Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke, Depeche Mode, OMD, Eurythmics and the Human League made me realize – again- the importance of those artists on me and the effect they’ve had on my career as a DJ/Producer.

I already was attracted by electronic music by the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Bobby Orlando, but these artists still used conventional drums and percussion, based on disco. Unlike most of my peers I wasn’t that interested in Kraftwerk though. To me it lacked that swing that I find so attractive. Even though I was way too young to enter a club or discotheque I longed for the dance factor. So when I heard Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ for the first time I went berserk. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do.

That record and Divine’s ‘Step By Step’ , or ‘Native Love’ (By producer Bobby Orlando) hinted at the fact that I could actually produce music without learning a traditional instrument. So I bought a Casio VL-1. The rest is, as they say, history.

Casio VL-1

In 2003 I was offered to do a remix of Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’. It took me almost a year to actually finish that. Most time was spent thinking ‘I’m not worthy!’  This track couldn’t, no, shouldn’t be remixed. I came up with the solution to my problem, by creating a remix in a remix. When you listen to it you do hear those famous synth stabs. And Alison Moyet’s voice.

But the basis came from Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ which was produced by Giorgio Moroder and remixed by another hero of mine; Patrick Cowley. At the same time I wanted to keep the production basic, as it was in the ’80’s. I only used the Roland TR-808 drum sounds in an old fashioned ‘boom – clap’ style. (Further down the track you can also hear the sampled percussion by Divine’s ‘Native Love’). Basically the remix was meant to be a tribute to my fave Electronic Dance Music from that period in time.

When finally finished it took the label months to release it. They just didn’t get it. Neither did I by the way, so I didn’t blame them. In fact, I wasn’t all too happy about it either. Things changed however when it was heard in a club, loud, and  see the people react to it. In hindsight it could somewhat be seen as a frontrunner for what is now known as Minimal. That same year I did the lush production/remix of Girl Nobody’s ‘Cages’. And lush and rich productions where all the fashion. This was just too different. It soon changed and because it was released as a bootleg it is still very much sought after. It grew on me too.

Still, nothing beats the original. As with many originals. Even though I’m a remixer by profession, I still find remixes nothing but a commercial tool. It rarely adds anything substantial from an artistic point of view. But that’s a whole other topic. I’ll save that for later.

In the meantime, should you have never heard it, you will find the unreleased dub version here, along with other music and remixes.