Chronicle of their London Collaboration by Jorge Munnshe and Manuel Montes, kindly reproduced from Amazings. The original article is in Spanish and we have translated this with Google – hope the story stays consistent. We have added some more images to this article and a video as well.
At the end of this article we have a small quest for you – what happened with the pictures?
Please note that all (c) are with Amazings and the authors.
Looking carefully at the photographs that appear in In London and A Separate Affair , one comes to the conclusion of how quickly time passes, especially during these last two decades of electronic evolution. Analog nostalgia, this is what these images and the music that we find inside the CDs awaken in us. Nostalgia… and surprise. In effect, very few followers could expect that a decade and a half later what was revealed in a meeting that took place in March 1981, a fragment of which was televised, would be published. Angel Casas would later dedicate two programs on his television program “Musical Express, Serie Amigos” to electronic music. In one of the programs the result of such an interesting collaboration would be broadcast. The two broadcasts, with appearances by Klaus Schulze, Ashra, Tangerine Dream , etc., became over the years one of the most widely distributed documents among fans of electronic music, an unusual gathering of stars that will rarely be repeated.
Since then, many fans from all over the world have requested the publication of the Neuronium / Vangelis collaboration . And finally, more than a decade later, it was published, in two installments. Michel Huygen was commissioned in 1992 to remix the original master, eliminating undesirable noises and providing an optimal product for its appearance on compact. The only track on the CD Single In London (a special edition on cassette also appeared), lasts 8 minutes and 53 seconds, slightly longer than the television version, mutilated for broadcast. In London was released in 1993. Three years later, Michel Huygen remixed the music and this previously unreleased material (36 minutes long) was released to great anticipation.
In that memorable 1981 session, Vangelis and the members of Neuronium made one of the clearest examples of what can be done with synthesizers in the field of cosmic electronic music. Although the original work was recorded on an analogue system, at Vangelis ‘ legendary Nemo Studio in London, Huygen ‘s technical expertise enabled it to be fully remastered and presented with improved mixes. Thus, the original In London gave way to this A Separate Affair where the main theme is treated in three different formats (psychotronic mix, after hours mix and radio mix), of decreasing duration. Listening to the album takes us back to the Vangelis/Neuronium sound of the late seventies, early eighties, in which analog sounds, sequencers and symphonic environments dominate above everything else. But this CD is not only for nostalgics or collectors: true electronic music in its most cosmic aspect shines here in all its splendor.
In London and A Separate Affair have had among Vangelis and Neuronium fans , we interviewed Michel Huygen at his home and told him that the unexpected publication of this collaboration has aroused real interest.
“In fact, in the United States, in Canada, in England and in Germany, it is enjoying great success. Almost all the letters I receive on this subject coincide in several very curious aspects: the interest aroused by the use of sound that before was usual, mixed with modern reverberations, the novelty of hearing Neuronium and Vangelis working together, and the latter’s behavior in a cosmic composition altogether.”
We know that the theme is basically an improvisation, sitting on a foundation prepared in advance by Michel Huygen . We ask you to give us more details about it.
“I prepared some things, such as the general tone of the improvisation, the rhythmic sequences that were incorporated throughout the song, etc. At that time it was not possible to improvise with a sequencer. It was necessary to tune note by note, and to manipulate too many However, when it came down to it, the sequencers and other prepared elements came in at unexpected times, as Vangelis felt like triggering them that way, and I must say I thought the result was excellent! The melodies were totally improvised.”
The presence of Vangelis is easy to detect in the composition. For this reason, In London and A Separate Affair contain his personal stamp, increased by the improvisation factor. Without a doubt, Vangelis is a strong example of improvisation as a source of inspiration, and in this regard Michel explains:
“A long time ago, I heard Vangelis improvising in his studio in France… and well, you come to believe that there is something supernatural about him. At a certain point, he becomes interested in a particular sound, starts playing and… . that’s it, you can hear then how the music comes from there with its usual style, powerful, grandiloquent, with those great chords. He combines his instruments in a magnificent way, and he doesn’t use anything that any of us don’t use.”
Regarding the latter, we asked Michel if, being a famous synthesist with sufficient economic success, has he ever felt the temptation that other stars have fallen into, to always buy everything more expensive that is coming out on the market, for considering it the best, as in the time when a certain snobbery prevailed towards the Fairlight and the Synclavier, which the public came to consider as the best instruments for making electronic music, whose possession ratified the artist as a star, and whose lack cast doubt on that status.
“No, not at all. You don’t have to have the most expensive. And this ‘best’ thing is something I’ve talked about many times with Vangelis . He doesn’t usually use Fairlights or Synclaviers. And on that I totally agree.” with him. Sometimes he’s told me: ‘When you have your own sound, you don’t need all that’. And it’s true. I don’t need to have ‘the best’ in music technology either. We share the same opinion on that.”
Michel is enthusiastic about the reception In London and A Separate Affair have received . Why, then, was this collaboration not published much earlier?
“The truth is that we did not want people to have the feeling that we were taking advantage of the Vangelis name to advance our career as a group. That is one of the reasons why the Neuronium name appears on the covers of both albums. It wasn’t about taking advantage of the success of 1492. Think what it would have meant to release the first single In London in the midst of the tremendous acceptance of Chariots of Fire (“Chariots of Fire”), and even Blade Runner . We’d rather wait for my 20th album to come out. At this point I don’t think anyone thinks I’m trying to take advantage of anyone’s fame, but simply to satisfy a lot of fans. Actually, Vangelis himself , for some time conversation several years ago, he remembered the experience and proposed to edit the piece, but I preferred to let more time go by.”
When in 1982, Vangelis was awarded the Oscar for best soundtrack for his music in Chariots of Fire (“Chariots of Fire”), he rose to an even higher stardom than he had achieved with his time in Aphrodite’s Child or with his subsequent solo career. However, on a personal level, this event made him the target of innumerable commercial and social interests, something that for him, little lover of public events, even giving concerts, much less being the center of attention of so many people , was not a reason for well-being. He also disliked the contrast between the attention received before and after the Oscar, with all the hypocritical attitudes around him that it brought. Press outlets that used to despise him, now persecuted him tenaciously to interview him. Film production companies that previously underestimated his talent, now came to offer him up to fifty soundtracks in a matter of a year.
That attitude of his, together with the external pressure he received, did nothing but forge an image of a strange, mysterious subject, separated from all contact with the world. His absence from the Oscars ceremony (motivated because he had to finish an urgent job, but which quite a few people interpreted as proof of coldness and distance), his aversion to traveling by plane or by ship, his inability to play live and granting interviews, along with other questions, consolidated that image. Attacks such as an unjust accusation of plagiarism brought before the courts by Stavros Logarides , attacks for which celebrities are always a perfect target, did not contribute to incentivize his public life. Thus, in the 1980s, Vangelis accentuated his sullen mood, trying to avoid any situation in which his status as a celebrity disturbed his private life. “The Nasty” is what he was called in some London circles during the post-Oscar era and before he left Britain. Michel Huygen , told us about it:
“The nasty ones were actually the ones they called him. Because they were people, and Vangelis knew it and that’s why he treated them the way he did, that they cared about him only after the Oscar, having totally despised him in the past, especially early on. of his career, when he was poor… because he ended up not having much money…”
We ask Michel to better detail this last question:
“Yes, Vangelis does not hide that if he was able to buy all the necessary equipment to record his first solo electronic albums, it was largely thanks to his participation in records by his cousin Demis Roussos , for whom he composed songs, and on which he did production work.”
Due to his relationship with Vangelis, Michel Huygen also came under pressure when the Greek artist won the Oscar:
“I’ve always been very fond of Vangelis . That’s why it hurt me to be involved in the goings-on of the journalists who were after him after the Oscar. In London there were journalists who, when they knew I was going to see him, said ‘Could tell Vangelis if he can grant me an interview?’ I never passed on any such message to him. I didn’t want him to believe that because of our friendship I was going to fill his house with reporters from magazines and media outlets who completely underestimated him before the Oscar. Journalists often came to my hotel, interviewed me, and when they said goodbye they said, ‘Why don’t you give this card to Vangelis on my behalf to see if he’ll give me an interview?’ garbage. I never lent myself to those maneuvers. Because I absolutely didn’t want to use my friendship with him for things like that.”
Huygen has defined Vangelis like this :
“The Vangelis I know is a friendly person, even a joker. His character is like that of the music on his records. That romantic, bombastic, tragic side… Yes, that’s what he is. Sometimes I’ve seen him violent with certain people, but for the reasons I have said. With me he has always been very friendly, and almost fatherly, giving me advice to protect myself in the recording world. I have fond memories, like the day he played a tape at his house and told me ‘This is going to be my new job.’ And it was Chariots of Fire . Or one day, in London, when he had to work late, and he asked me to go to the studio with him and then We were going out to dinner. So I was present while he worked. It was the soundtrack to The Bounty . It was curious to hear the music and to see on a big screen the various sections of the film, not yet edited, with the ‘Cut!’ and all that. It was a lot of fun. We also had a great time in the recording we did together for television ( In London / A Separate Affair ). It was much longer, but TVE only broadcast a bit. Whenever he went to London, he invited me to his study. It was a study that on the outside lacked any feature by which it could be identified as such, and of course without any sign or label. You approached an old house, in a dead end, and once you were inside, you discovered that you were in The Great Studio. It was done that way on purpose, to mislead. I understand that he left London, because he lived there under magnification and he couldn’t stand it. For example, in London, he took me in his car to the hotel, I remember that when we stopped at a traffic light, the people from all the cars stopped around us were looking at us. He didn’t like that. When I was with him in a public place, sometimes I would look out the window, and outside there were always three or four people wondering if they could see him when he left. Sometimes it happened that we would go to a restaurant, and when he entered he verified that all the people turned to look at him, expectantly, he turned around and we went to another. And so on, until finally we arrived at a restaurant crowded with people so famous that nobody noticed it. Maybe a minister was having dinner here and an actor there. Then he already felt calm because no one was watching him and they let us chat. And we talked about synths all night.”
On the matter of the absence of Vangelis in the delivery of the Oscar for his Chariots of Fire soundtrack (“Chariots of Fire”), Huygen emphasizes that: “I had urgent work to do. I had to finish an order. Deliver it in the agreed time it was a matter of professional seriousness. He did not want to abandon those who had placed their professional trust in him. In that sense, being awarded the Oscar had not gone to his head. He did not despise the Oscar at all, since he placed it in a conspicuous place in his house, proof that he was proud to have won it.”
The friendly and generous temperament of the artist, not exempt at times from a certain naive or rustic touch, is well portrayed in the anecdote that occurred when the Spanish Television team of the “Musical Express” program traveled to London with Neuronium to record the jam session that years later would be collected in part in In London and in A Separate Affair . The idea of playing together had come from Vangelis , who had the initiative to contact the band interested in their work. When they arrived, a little nervous because they didn’t know what kind of person they were going to meet, and besides it was an inappropriate time to make visits, lunchtime, Vangelis , who had already eaten, gave them money and said “Take, Go eat something next door and then we’ll play”. They, of course, were carrying money, and they found the musician’s gesture somewhat shocking or clumsy, though undoubtedly friendly. Thus, in such a prosaic and informal way, talking about food and money, they exchanged their first words face to face with the king of synthesizers.
Not surprisingly , Vangelis , like other celebrities in the recording, film and other industries, feels pressured to the point of having to hide his private life behind armor, coming across as naturally taciturn. A monstrous economic mechanism has been created around it, in which the numbers mobilized are gigantic.
We thank Michel Huygen for his kind attention in granting us this interview.
Puzzle: what happened with the pictures?
We have a puzzle for you: we’re not sure if this is correct but we studied the pictures of the Vangelis / Neuronium collaboration that can be found on the internet. Look at these pictures: 1 and 3 are the same picture, but what happened to picture 2. It looks like it is the same picture,but the middle guy, we think this is former Neuronium member Carlos Guirao, looks ‘edited’ away. Can this be true? What do you think?