With his music Vangelis has always taken us to unexpected places. Uniquely bold and inventive his China (41'17") from 1979 was an album listeners embraced and luxuriated in. This reflective exploration of a land few westerners knew at the time of its release remains bracing to behold. There is nothing neutral about this work. From sites of sonic urgency and enigmatic landscapes to soft renewing spaces in idyllic repose China moves the mind well out into the world while capturing a few facets of a deeply complex artist. With extreme precision Vangelis deploys the power of his imagination. Conjuring an effortless warmth and spirit, scenes enter and exit with electrifying immediacy. Availing himself of Eastern instruments and the talents and sounds of traditional players, along with percussion, grand piano, synthesizers and other electronic devices the nine tracks unfurl in a deliberate composition within a setting of engaged thought. Playing brisk and brilliant, then slow and steady, melodies cling to the ear and whisper in the heart. Where burnished beams slice through one section like strikes of lightening in a rainstorm, further in spoken word poetry drops over plush textures - as themes reverberate and resolve in such vibrant fantasy. Summoning the new world of the New Age with China Vangelis has built space for those yet to come. Now passed into the territory of legend we are left with his idealized world of sound - where Spacemusic, World Music, New Age and the Avant-Garde all share a common spirit, and directly connects the musician to life.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 29 June 2023