What came first: The elevator or Yanni? That is the unresolved question which preoccupies the thoughtful listener of this two-disc release from BMG Heritage; a compilation of sub-par electronic compositions that pale into insignificance when compared to music of artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre. Can Yanni, then, justly sum himself up by saying, as he does, that "[he wants] to use synthesisers like Beethoven used the orchestra"?
The Greek-born musician is a self-fashioned synthesiser demi-God who achieved great success in the United States a decade ago. His appearance on an American chat show caused sales of his electronic "New Age" music to reach voluminous heights amongst a demographic of middle-aged housewives, in large measure it must be argued because of his magnetically Mediterranean good-looks, charm and charisma. Ultimate Yanni compiles the very best, if you like, of the composer's output of the last seventeen years.
In his unintentionally hilarious liner notes, Simon Czukay examines the criticism that Yanni has received through various popular quarters. He cites the New Yorker for printing a satirical cartoon of "a dentist asking a patient, 'Novocaine or Yanni?'". From listening to this current anthology it's clear no amount of novocaine could ever come close to the sheer brain-numbing power Yanni's music exudes. Czukay goes on to use phrases such as "New Age knob twister" and "the world was the limit for Yanni" which make as much sense in context as they do, here, apart from it.
This is a terrible album, one that should be relegated to the bottom of bargain bins and left there.