Modern day classical composer Vangelis’s ‘Rosetta’ album is named after the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. On March 2nd 2004 the probe (named after the Rosetta Stone, which holds the key to unlocking the meaning of Egyptian heiroglyphs) set off to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It reached orbit on August 6th 2014 and in November of that year the Philae module landed on the surface of the comet. This album ties in with the completion of the mission on September 30th when the Rosetta probe itself lands on the comet.
Vangelis has often explored the themes of adventure, exploration and space in his music and a conversation with astronaut Andre Kuipers, who was on the International Space Station, inspired the creation of album. It is an ambitious and impressive soundscape which perfectly encapsulates the story of the mission. Indeed, the track titles read like the chapters of a book, and Vangelis has skilfully matched synthesiser, harmony and tempo to aurally transmit you through the epic journey.
‘Starstuff’ leaves you hanging in space while the juddering of distant shooting stars or comets pass by. ‘Infinitude’, beautifully melodic, is the nearest thing to a truly classical track, and conveys the serenity and calm of cosmic cruise control. ‘Exo-genesis’, the idea that life on Earth was started by visitors from another planet, has a nervy feel, quicker tempo and is a form of musical anxiety. ‘Albedo’ (the shine or reflection from a planet’s surface) is peppered with sharp shards of sound to represent light rays bouncing and spreading around, with a growing surge of sound during ‘Sunlight’ as the Sun finally rises and dominates. ‘Philae’s Descent’ encapsulates the drama and danger of the lander unit going down to the comet’s surface, with sharp strings, brass and a quick tempo. It’s the sort of background music you’d expect during a cop chase. Then follows ‘Rosetta’s Waltz’, a celebration of success and written as a tribute the staff who had worked on the project for so long. Final tracks ‘Elegy’ (reflection or lament) and ‘Return To The Void’ perfectly convey the loneliness and drift of the vast abyss of Space, as we return to nothingness.
A perfect piece of picture painting from Vangelis, his control over his technique and brushstroke is that of an old master.
‘Rosetta’ is out now on Decca Records.
This Vangelis article was written by Ellie Scott, a GIGsoup contributor