Always a musician with an appetite for the wonders of the earth, Vangelis went right back to the soil for the album with which he entered the UK chart on 13 October 1984. Soil Festivities was inspired by the processes of nature literally taking place beneath our feet, as a celebration of the springtime cycle of new life.
By the time of the album’s release, the Greek multi-instrumentalist had built on the audience for his 1970s albums such as Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39. After the huge success of his 1981 soundtrack to the Oscar-winning Chariots Of Fire, Vangelis was hot property, but decided that his next project would be much more low-key: in 1983, he created the soundtrack for a Japanese film called Antarctica (the original Japanese title was Nankyoku Monogatari), which was only released locally at the time, with wider release not until 1988.
Soil Festivities, recorded as usual at Nemo Studios in London and produced by the artist himself, was Vangelis’ return to more mainstream releases, and was the first in a loose trilogy of albums that continued the following year with both Mask and Invisible Connections.
‘Festivities,’ which reached No. 55 in a four-week UK chart run, consisted of five movements, the first lasting fully 18 minutes, and is warmly regarded by Vangelis devotees as one of their favourites among his catalogue.
The vangelismovements.com site describes it as a “jewel” in his oeuvre, noting: “Vangelis manages to get across this feeling of ‘the miracle of nature’ really well and presents a very direct close-up view of the (microscopic) natural world. Accordingly, it’s almost completely devoid of the human factor, his usual nostalgia isn’t really apparent here and no voices are used.” Vangeliscollector.com adds: “It would have been difficult to release a single from this album. It really needs to be heard in its entirety to be appreciated.”