This 1988 Vangelis CD is a bridge between the symphonic electronica sound that Vangelis made popular in the eighties and his current, more dense orchestral sound. Direct is a mixture of electronica, new age, space music, and folk sounds, mixed together in Vangelis’ unique way.
The CD starts of with “The Motion of Stars”, a symphonic electronica cut on which Vangelis plays lush string synths over a constantly shifting sequenced background. It sounds as if Vangelis may be playing over a continous sequence while he changes the sound that is played. The style is similar to his album Masks.
“The Will of the Wind” is more symphonic electronica. The cut features heavy drum machine backing, with an sampled asian flute melody.
Blade Runner fans should love “Metallic Rain”. It begins with a synthesizer solo over a droning string synth background. This section sounds a lot like Bladerunner Blues. The cut picks up after about a minute, and then builds to a rock-like section. The rock section has a blues-like feel also, but adds drums, a guitar-like distorted synth sound, and heavy blues bass. The remainder of “Metallic Rain” contrasts the mellow blues sound with the rock sections.
“Elsewhere” sounds like it could have come from one of his earlier albums. The melody sounds a little like some of the music on Opera Sauvage. The cut starts with a sequenced backing and adds a lilting melody over the top. It’s a pleasant enough cut until the drum machine cuts in, about three minutes into the song. The drum machine work is unoriginal and detracts from the rest of the song. The song returns to its original texture before a fade-out.
The next cut, “Glorianna (Hymn a la Femme)”, is one of the strongest cuts that Vangelis has recorded. On this track, Vangelis uses synthesizers and orchestral percussion to support two wordless vocalists singing in an operatic style. The result is operatic electronica, very melodic and beautiful. “Glorianna” points to one of the directions that Vangelis followed in the late 90’s, towards more of an operatic orchestral feel.
“Rotation’s Logic” is the sort of throw-away pop-electronica tune that Vangelis can churn out. The melody isn’t original enough to grab you, though, so it sounds like new-age background music.
Vangelis comes through with another classic piece of music with “The Oracle of Apollo”. This cut combines harp or sampled harp with synthesized strings and bass. The melody carries a sense of wonder and mystery, and is beautifully arranged. It also has a real direction and form, contrasting the original melody with a section that adds some tension. “The Oracle”, like “Glorianna”, capture many of the best elements in Vangelis style.
“Message” has a sequenced bass and layers lush strings at the start, accommpanying what sounds like a baby babbling. It quickly builds to his melodic symphonic style, and is similar to some of Vangelis soundtrack work for 1492. It’s melodic, grandiose, and bombastic. Cymbal crashes and wordless vocals “Message” sound impressive, even if the melody isn’t one of Vangelis’ best.
“Ave” is pop-rock and leaves little mark. The last cut, “First Approach” ends the CD on a high note. It’s very quiet and contemplative, and features synthesized cello and flute solos. The backing is built of Vangelis’ unique synth string sound, along with wordless vocals. Both the cello and flute sounds are used to introduce the melody, then the music builds to a crescendo. Finally, both instrument sounds are used to revisit the melody at the same time.
There are two extra cuts on the CD that were not on the original album version of this recording. “Dial Out” isn’t very memorable, but fits on the album. “Intergalactic Radio Station” is annoying, and seems out of place. This cut includes spoken vocals over a progressive rock synthesized backing. The vocals are sound like half of a phone call from a strange future. The result sounds a lot like work Vangelis did 20 years earlier on See You Later, but not as original.
Overall, Direct is a mixed outing for Vangelis. Some listeners will like the variety of orchestral electronica and more pop-rock new age cuts. The lack of focus, though, makes Direct sound a little like a grab-bag or compilation. Direct has some of Vangelis best work on it, especially “Glorianna” and “The Oracle of Apollo”, but seems padded out with weaker tracks.