This is a day in the life of a city, its denizens shaking off sleep and moving through the busy streets and promenades only to return home and (presumably) start the process all over again. Vangelis' city is cosmopolitan, tastefully blending exotic sounds and disembodied voices, at once futuristic yet reassuringly familiar. Where Direct was remote, The City is almost sensual; swiftly coursing rhythms and bursts of sensation create a tactile quality. As program music, it succeeds at connecting events seamlessly for the first half of the disc. You can actually see the weak morning light dissipate the darkness on "Dawn" and watch the characters shuffle through their morning ministrations on "Morning Papers." The day starts in earnest on "Nerve Centre," an internal clock implied in the music's mechanized movement, but listeners are soon granted a midday reprieve with a pleasant stroll along "Side Streets." The City does sag slightly in the middle, lapsing into new age amenity on "Good to See You" and "Twilight," but the composer quickly recaptures his muse on the contagious carnival atmosphere of "Red Lights." "Procession" sums things up with a typically poignant melody from Vangelis, where the events of the day wash over listeners in reflection. True, there are some gaps in The City where key events seem to be missing, but Vangelis clearly had the beginning and the end of a good idea here. The rich, full sound of The City makes it easy for listeners to immerse themselves in the music. This is the work of a master sound painter, one whose wide musical travelogue reappears in a composite creation that challenges the composer to create new pictures from past experiences. Moreso, it's a disc that listeners will want to revisit often.
The City Review
by Dave Connolly