Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (born 29 March 1943), known professionally as Vangelis), is a Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music. After having taken piano lessons, Vangelis began his professional musical career working with several popular bands of the 1960s such as the Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child.
Label: Polydor Records
China is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in 1979. Although he had never been to China, he employed Chinese instruments and compositional styles on this concept album. It was thematically ahead of its time as the eastern cultural concepts were mostly unknown to the western audience. It is one of his critically most acclaimed solo studio albums.
At the end of 1978, Vangelis was without a record label contract (the previous official Beaubourg was his final with RCA Records), and the next company which supported his recordings was Polydor Records (which already owned the right of the “Sauvage” series of albums).
It is a concept album based on China. Vangelis in 1979 interview said “I’ve never been there, I had the idea long before the events that placed China at the forefront of the news. For years I have been passionate about the Chinese. I am not talking about politics, I am talking about the old China, the new China as well, about this enormous nation and the people who live there. What is happening there is miraculous, it touches me”.
He “tried to capture in this record China as I feel it, with its peculiar character, its perfume. I find certain resemblances between the music of China and the music of Greece. Of course, I find a lot of musical similarities all around the world”, but “I didn’t try to do Chinese folk music. I’m not Chinese, but I did something that I felt had this characteristic colour of Chinese music”.
The thematic concepts noted in the sleeve range from; “Chung Kuo” (Wade-Giles romanization of Zhongguo) means “China” (or literally “Middle Kingdom”); “The Long March” is inspired by the Long March (1934–1935) with long citation from Red China Today by Edgar Snow; “The Dragon” (Lung) is inspired by the Chinese dragon symbolism, “the spirit of change and the creative force of life. In an endless transformation he unfolds from the deepest caves to rise in the clouds”; “The Plum Blossom” is inspired by the Chinese symbolism of Prunus mume, “sexual vitality”; “The Tao Of Love” is inspired by Zhuang Zhou quote “That which is one is one That which is not one is also one”; “The Little Fete” is inspired by the homonymous poem by the 8th century Li Bai, quoted translation from Taoism by Jean Campbell Cooper; “Yin & Yang” is inspired by the homonymous simbolic duality; “Himalaya” is inspired by the 52nd hexagram 艮 (Gèn or Ken) from I Ching meaning “mountain, to ascend, the solitude, the immovable”; while “Summit” probably by the homonymous summit of symbolic mountain.
1. Chung Kuo (5:31)
2. The Long March (2:01)
3. The Dragon (4:13)
4. The Plum Blossom (2:36)
5. The Tao of Love (2:46)
6. The Little Fete (3:01)
1. Yin & Yang (5:48)
2. Himalaya (10:53)
3. Summit (4:30)