This obituary was written by Geeta Dayal (author of the Continuum 33 1/3 series book on Eno’s Another Green World) and comes from Frieze blogsite, Aug. 20th, 2011.
The reclusive Schnitzler was one of the pioneers of German krautrock and experimental electronic music. He was a founding member of Tangerine Dream and Kluster before going solo. Sadly he passed away on Aug. 4th.
Click on the link at the bottom to check out the original posting with some great pictures of Schnitzler…
In the early 1960s, Conrad Schnitzler met Joseph Beuys in a bar in Düsseldorf. Beuys was at the start of his legendary run as a professor of ‘monumental sculpture’ at Düsseldorf’s Kunstakademie. Schnitzler was a sailor, who specialized in fixing the engines of merchant ships in nearby ports. Beuys took a liking to Schnitzler, inviting him to be one of his students. Schnitzler enrolled at the Kunstakademie, but dropped out a year or two later, much to Beuys’ dismay. If, as Beuys famously entreated, ‘everybody is an artist’, why did he have to go to school to be one? Schnitzler travelled for a few years, making metal sculptures and performance art. Then he took the metal sculptures he built during his time with Beuys, which he had covered in stark planes of black and white paint, dragged them all to a grassy field, and left them there.
Another NME article on Tangerine Dream, this time from Nov. 16, 1974…
Ever heard of a group who would rather not be visible to their audience and let the music work on its own? Seems peculiar even in these troubled times.
Sure Todd Rundgren occasionally brings along his pre-recorded tapes (though remember he’s A True Star) and Sly Stone sometimes chooses not to turn up at all, but for muted image appeal Tangerine Dream have got them all beaten.
When we met at their Bayswater hotel, Edgar Froese, Pete Baumann and Christoph Franke set about explaining the enigma and defining what exactly their electronic democracy entails:
“The people make their own concert just as much as us; it’s a process of reflection. After a few gigs you get the feel of what we’re doing, but you won’t see superstars because our music isn’t dependent on big business or reflecting popularity.”
Hence the decision not to Play album pieces live?
“As we’re improvising all the time, everything is different. To reproduce only records would be boring. This way each gig is a unique experience. At a good moment, maybe two thousand people are going to feel the same thing.”
O.K., so what about the audio-visual synthesiser – which supposedly projected extensions of the sound, but didn’t?
Edgar admits that it wasn’t entirely successful, but hurriedly qualifies with a rejoinder that perhaps we, the audience, weren’t entirely prepared for the dual experiment. Too much, too soon, as someone once called an album.
“Next time around we’ll forget it, though we have been using a film of the Rainbow original since then.”
In the dream camp it is generally agreed that subsequent dates have easily surpassed the London opener, further proof that Southerners are the hardest to please.
Perhaps a plethora of concerts makes us blase. Edgar Froese agrees and explains that in the North reaction has been increasingly favourable.
“Liverpool was particularly interesting. We could feel the aggression in the hall – they usually have wrestling there – but after ten minutes: silence.
“It wasn’t entirely ‘our’ audience but no-one jumped up and shouted for rock ‘n’ roll – they listened.”
The discussion over the obvious lack of similarity between T. Dream and most other popular outfits brings them to an irate dissertation on the attitudes of the press; the vociferous Baumann is most heated on this point, while Froese nods in sage accord.
“We resent those who say that our concerts put you to sleep. This idea the papers convey is so patronising it makes the audience seem stupid, like monkeys.”
At this juncture Christoph Franke interjects for the first (and last) time:
“We want them to experience sound, which requires concentration; if they go to sleep, we have failed.”
Mr. Froese elaborates on this inscrutable pronouncement with a quick sophistry of his own – a Teutonic one-off.
“The audience is ‘doing’ the concert, so the music is an extension of them. We listen as we play too, you know.”
Thank you, I see.
Baumann pours forth on the old apparel-talent syndrome. It’s not what you do, it’s the dress that you do it in.
“Does it matter what trousers somebody wears, or who the fastest guitarist is?”
No, I suppose it doesn’t, but…
“Exactly. We play as a group but the distinction between us and a rock band is that they put on a show – we put on a mind show.”
But surely you’re not equatable with rock musicians anyway?
“Don’t categorise us. We’re influenced by everything; sound, pictures, a walk in the woods, looking at clouds from a plane even. Without Debussy, Presley, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream would be impossible. Our music is the end result of these things in that we become a filter, our instruments, the keyboards, moogs and VCS3′s are just the ones with which we can best express our sensations.”
Ah, the collective subconscious assumes heavier implications. Edgar lays it straight on the line:
“We are concerned with the deeper experience of music. For example, it is impossible for us to reduce and reproduce that feeling by issuing singles.”
For a band of such transparent integrity, the choice of record company must have proved a matter for substantial thought.
“Yes, we got a lot of good offers, but went to Virgin – not only because they’re economically stable, they’re behind our music and they don’t dictate to us.
“In turn, we don’t run to them and say ‘make us stars.’ It’s mutual proof of maturity really. Ohr Records betrayed us. All they thought about was money.”
The legal wrangling between T. Dream and their erstwhile employers continues. The group are more than a trifle upset at Ohr releasing early material in this country, as the product’s success won’t line the pockets of their lederhosen and may even detract from sales of present issues.
Still, they shouldn’t suffer too many sleepless nights having already shipped more British imports than any other band since Soft Machine.
Edgar’s Aqua, a paean to all things watery, is doing just dandy, while Peter and Christoph have solo ventures slightly nearer than the horizon.
Froese elucidates on the necessity for this sudden proliferation.
“There’s a lot of material which each member finds it impossible to include in the group. We’d be fighting one another off, so it’s healthier to branch out on diverse projects.”
The problem of total improvisation crops up again, this time with regard to that most ambiguous mental condition, the mood.
Suppose one night you don’t feel like performing?
“Then we play that mood. If we feel great then the tones of the music will be almost speeding or sometimes melancholic.
“Because we never repeat a concert it’s hard to define whether we get excitement or satisfaction from it. After a good presentation, we may not do an encore – there’s nothing left to give. If we’re not fulfilled and there’s an element missing, like at the Rainbow, we go out and pick up on a particular mood which we did enjoy.”
Tangerine Dream have yet to grab a slice of the American pie and their attitude towards touring, which includes imperative relaxation periods, may be hard to reconcile with those of the average promoter. Nevertheless, Froese is adamant.
“We can’t troop around playing night after night, that way we’d lose direct contact, with the music, anyway the business could kill you there. The money we spend on hotels is unimportant – it’s far better to have a positive fresh approach to performing.”
Meanwhile, there are New Year visits to Australia and Japan and various multi-media projects proposed, though after the relative failure of the Chichester Festival’s Oedipus Tyannus production (for which they provided the score) Froese is determined not to commit the group to film work in a hurry.
Nothing is yet planned, and anyone with a potential offer must be prepared to spend a lot of money. As for any excursions with new equipment, Baumann is defensive, obviously sensitive to possible allegations of moog chicanery.
Franke later confided that they are considering aligning the quad system pyramid-style to diffuse sound better and that Gunter Branschen’s artificial head technique has still to be perfected.
No-one mentioned incorporating laser beams, however. Now that would be something.
30 Years of Dreaming was a small book put out in 1999 by Danish musician and TD fan Kent Eskildsen. It was then translated into English…
Tangerine Dream have had a very big influence on me personally and one of the major reasons why I myself started out on a journey as a musician and composer of instrumental music with synthesizers and other electronic instruments.
Some of the best listening experiences I have had are to the music of Tangerine Dream. Even though I find that too much music has been put out in the name of Tangerine Dream, it is always their music I return to.
I think my first encounter with Tangerine Dream was when I saw a concert broadcast on Swedish television sometime in the middle of the seventies. It was the Coventry Cathedral concert with music from the live album, Ricochet. I remember watching the concert on a small black and white television screen late at night, but even so, I was totally overwhelmed by that cosmic music and those strange motionless and silent musicians behind their electronic instruments. A very “far-out-in-an-alien-space” feeling, that I had never experienced before in music.
The first album I bought was Stratosfear, and I think that it is the one album that has taken the most rounds on my turntable. The vinyl record is totally worn out and the treble is something you’ll have to imagine…
When I have chosen to spend a lot of time and energy on writing the story of Tangerine Dream – first in Danish and now in English – it is first of all for my own satisfaction; I have tried to make an overview of the band’s very long and extensive career, which I didn’t seem to find anywhere else in print.
This book should be seen as my personal understanding of the Tangerine Dream universe and their musical development. Even though I have tried to be as accurate as it has been possible for me, I will not claim to be 100% historically correct. It has been quite difficult too, since some of my sources seem to have different opinions on dates and so on. Also I am not English, so the language may not be absolute correct.
Even though Tangerine Dream have sold a lot of albums through the last 30 years (more than 7 million copies I am told!), often been high on sales lists and charts and been nominated for several Grammy Awards, the record companies have never had any big commercial interests in the band – Tangerine Dream have always focused on the music as opposed to focusing on the musicians in the band. This, of course, fits badly into the world of the idolised music business.
But despite all of this, Tangerine Dream have had a considerable influence and have always had an enthusiastic and loyal audience. Tangerine Dream have been pioneers – both in a musical sense, as they have led the way for techno, ambient, dance and whatever it’s called nowadays, but they have also played a major part in developing new instruments and improving different aspects of sound production as well. Pioneering work, which we all – and especially the music business – benefit from today and therefore, Tangerine Dream, deserve a higher degree of recognition than is the case.
Not very many people seem to know the story of Tangerine Dream – so here is an attempt to make up for that.
This is a beginner´s guide to the world of Tangerine Dream.
Kent Eskildsen – 1999
The history of Tangerine Dream starts with Edgar Froese, who since the end of the sixties has been and still is the leader of this band which has been a major exponent of electronic music and the development of electronic instruments.
Edgar Froese was born on 6th June 1944 in a small village called Tilsit (it has now changed its name to Sovjetsk) on the border of Lithuania, near the Baltic Sea. His home was influenced by traditional classical music and it has obviously left its mark on the young Edgar. He had a few piano lessons, but very quickly, Edgar Froese lost interest in the piano, and began to study art in Berlin. He was, first of all, working with painting and sculpturing. He managed five years at art school and Edgar got acquainted with the very active art environment in Berlin.
He became more and more attracted to music as means of expressing oneself and started playing the guitar. It was especially the English rock and pop music and bands like the Rolling Stones, which made the biggest impression:
Froese: “I was first of all attracted to their looks. Their faces were absolutely damaged. They were the absolute opposite of the Beatles!” (Cyclone Tour Program 1978 / Tangents).
Edgar Froese started his professional career in the music business in 1965, when he – inspired by British rock`n’roll – joined the band called The Ones. It was a traditional rock band with guitar, bass, drums, organ and vocals. The songs were mostly coverversions of big international hits made by foreign stars. The band played in small cafés and clubs, where 6-7 hours on stage was not unusual. They performed a lot in Berlin, but without gaining any big commercial success. The Ones managed to record a single in 1967, which included the tracks “Lady Greengrass” and “Love of Mine.”
In the summer of 1966, Edgar Froese was on a trip with a friend – a painter – to Cadaques near Barcelona in Spain. Here he met the surrealist painter, Salvador Dali, who made a serious impression on Edgar Froese. Froese learned the ways of surrealistic thinking and he developed the idea that he would try to make acoustic pictures – images of sound.
When Froese later came back to Berlin, he became very absorbed in avant-garde composers like Cage, Ligeti, Xenakis, Stockhausen and other experimenting artists. It was especially these composers’ type of music that helped show the way for the young art student.
Edgar Froese returned to Spain the following year together with The Ones. They played a few times at Salvador Dali`s villa and participated in a TV-film about the famous and eccentric painter. The Ones also made about an hour of music that was used at one of Dali`s exhibitions. Later that year, they worked hard for about 4 months at Johnny Halliday`s club in Paris.
Froese: “We played soul numbers. We used to do “Midnight Hour” three times a night – It was the best number we had!”(Tangerine Dream ´70 – ´80)
But the fame and the big money never came, and the group began to fall apart. Suddenly they were without a drummer and finally The Ones split up.
In his mind Edgar Froese had gradually drawn a clear picture of which musical direction he wanted to move towards, and finally in September 1967 he formed the band called Tangerine Dream. He teamed up with Volker Hombach (flute, harp and violin), Kurt Herkenberg (bass), Lanse Hapshash (drums), Charlie Prince from the Ones (vocal). Froese played the guitar.
Many sources claim that the name, Tangerine Dream, might originate from the album, Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles, where a passage of the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” said something about “tangerine trees.” I do not think that is true, but in 1967 the words Tangerine Dream pop up in titles and songs by other bands; a song called “Jelly Jungle” by The Lemon Pipers and the album title Tangerine Dream by the band “Kaleidoscope.” The founder of Kaleidoscope, Peter Daltrey, has some thought about this title:
Peter Daltrey: “I really can’t remember where I got the name for our first album. It just came to me out of the Sixties consciousness; the colours, the dream of the time, the lyrics of other songs, the style of writing at that time but mighty weird that we should come up with the same combination of two words as someone else in the world at that exact time!” (Private letter to Joe Shoult – Jan. 1999)
It has even been suggested that Tangerine Dream could be the name of some kind of drug like the acid called “Orange.”
We are after all in the age of psychedelia.
A coincidence? Perhaps, but only a few people know the real answer and Edgar Froese will certainly not reveal it! He completely denies all of this; he says that it is an acronym, but will not reveal the meaning of the name “Tangerine Dream” and he refuses to explain the meaning of the band´s name any further.
The end of the sixties was ready for a change and ready to take a new musical direction. The revolt among the students at universities was slowly beginning to take form – especially in Berlin – and the music reflected the rebellion against conventions. Music should have a much more free form, be unpredictable and contain a lot of improvisation. Traditional songs were seen as bourgeois.
Franke: “Berlin was destroyed during the war, but afterwards we have with the Marshall-help got the culture financed – with the typical German hope. Berlin then began to be the melting point. It was the city, which was terribly destroyed and you can still see the scars from the war. There was nothing beautiful in this city that could satisfy the citizens. They could only concentrate on art.” (Tangenten No. 2 – 1992)
It was a vigorous and rapidly growing environment/milieu. Experimentation was the standard rather than the exception in music and other art forms, but also in the ways people were living together. The hippie-movement was an expression of this and it reached its climax with “The Summer of Love” in 1968. People experimented with different kinds of drugs, meditation, foreign religions etc.
The element holding everything together was music. The psychedelic wave quickly gained a lot of supporters, more and more bands began using lights and other visual effects on stage. Out of this melting pot, a lot of pioneering German bands emerged. Bands like Amon Düül, Can, Ashra Temple, Agitation Free and Organisation (which later turned into Kraftwerk).
Everybody played a very free kind of music with traditional instruments, but began to use them in new ways. The electric amplification in itself meant new opportunities for creating new sounds. Effects like echo, delay, phaser and flanger were added and the key words were improvisation, sound and feeling rather than melody and structure.
In Berlin, Hans Roedelius (from Cluster) and Conrad Schnitzler – who later became one of the most important catalysis for the new experimental music in Germany – created the club, Zodiak. This club was host to a lot of different experiments with music, light and sound. It was decorated in the spirit of its time with one completely black room and one white. Another one of the “in” places in Berlin was the club, Quasimodo.
Tangerine Dream often played their improvised music at these places. Sometimes they became “events” which lasted about 5-6 hours, it was very loud and the band was known for starting out with Pink Floyd´s “Interstellar Overdrive” and improvised from there to unknown heights (?).
The band was not very stable in the early years and during the following years Tangerine Dream actually had three different crews and a lot of guest musicians passing in and out of the band.
In November 1969, Edgar Froese teamed up with Conrad Schnitzler (cello, violin and flute) and Klaus Schulze (drums), who had been studying and playing classic guitar at a younger age, but then turned to the drums in the band called Psy Free.
This collaboration lead to a lot of experimentation with sound effects and tape recorders apart from the use of more conventional and normal instruments. They used whatever would generate any kind of sound.
The group rented an old factory building and started recording on an old 2-track Revox tape recorder. A demo tape came out of this, and it was handed over to Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, who had just founded his record company – Ohr Records. Kaiser was extremely enthusiastic about their music and offered to make an album with Tangerine Dream on the condition that they accepted his suggestion for a title and what the cover should look like. Of course, Tangerine Dream went along with this offer even though the title, Electronic Meditation, is rather misleading; not a single real electronic instrument is used on this album!
Klaus Schulze: “We recorded and toured Electronic Meditation. That for me is the primary electronic album. Edgar played the guitar, Schnitzler the organ and I the drums through loads of effects. We were making up our own sounds. I remember Conrad had this metal cup full of these bits of glass in which he stuck a microphone attached to each machine. I played a lot of different percussive sounds that where then altered by machines. It was just great to be in a band who where open to so much experimentation.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – December 1994 / Tangents)
Tangerine Dream’s first album, Electronic Meditation, then came out in 1970. In music (?) and sound it describes (maybe?) the journey of a brain through different states of mind from birth to death.
It was not a big commercial success, but with one album out, it meant that Tangerine Dream got more jobs as a live act.
Shortly before Electronic Meditation appeared in the stores, Klaus Schulze left the band to join Ash Ra Temple and later he sat out on his own vast solo-career. He was replaced by a young guy, who had the reputation of being one of Germany’s best avant-garde jazz drummers. His name was Christopher Franke, born in April 1952. Franke had been studying at the Strasbourg Percussion Ensemble. At that time, he was very absorbed in the relationship between music and theatre. Christopher Franke or more often just called Chris Franke, played in the band Agitation Free in which the keyboard player Michael Hoenig also played. Agitation Free had its base in Berlin and it was also here that Christopher Franke met Edgar Froese.
Chris Franke saw them for the first time in a studio for experimental music: “They were making experiments with instruments and also with visuals, pictures and exhibitions” (Cyclone Tour Program 1978 / Tangents)
Conrad Schnitzler, who since his days in Tangerine Dream has been very well recognised on the experimenting German music scene was later the same year replaced by Steve Schroyder, who played the organ.
Among other strange things, this new trio gave a concert in Kapfenberg in Austria. The concert was recorded for television and about 1,000 people watched and heard the concert where 6 amplified pinball machines (?) formed the basis of Tangerine Dream’s improvisations…
Together with two guest musicians, Roland Paulyck and Udo Dennebourg this new Tangerine Dream constellation made the album, Alpha Centauri. It was recorded at Dieter Dierk´s studio in Cologne. The standard of the album was very high of that time, and among other things, it had an eight-track multi-track recorder. The album, which was named after one of the nearest stars in our galaxy, came out on the label Ohr and turned out to be a little bit more successful than the previous album, Electronic Meditation. Besides Germany, it was also launched in France, USA and Japan.
The music was – as the title might imply – much more cosmic than their first release. This time, the music was about a space flight and the very calm and floating sounds should illustrate the vastness of space. It was still a very searching kind of music, but nothing near to the totally improvised music of Electronic Meditation. This time though, among the more traditional instruments, a real electronic instrument appeared on the album – a VCS 3 synthesizer! Other sound sources were used, as the coffee machine that Edgar Froese was given credit for on the cover…
In February 1971, Steve Schroyder left the band and once again, Tangerine Dream were on the lookout for a new band member. They finally decided on Peter Baumann, born in 1953. He had made a name of himself as an amateur musician in Berlin with the band Burning Touch, in which he mostly played the more traditional music. Baumann was in every way a self-taught person and had taught himself to play the organ.
With Froese, Franke and Baumann the most stable constellation of Tangerine Dream was a fact – at least according to the production of albums and putting out music.
“Largo In four movements”
In 1972, the double album, Zeit, came out, and this can be said to be Tangerine Dream’s longest step away from rock-orientated music. It has been called the longest Largo in the world (76 minutes) and in four movements, the album is also completely free of any rhythms and senses of pulse. Carpets of sound moving slowly in and out between each other sound colours changing all the time.
As guest musicians there were four cellists, Steve Schroeder on the organ and Florian Fricke from the band, Popol Vuh. Fricke was supposedly invited because he was one of the first people in Germany who had a big modular Moog synthesizer…
The music was also marked by another instrument, the Mellotron, which was an early kind of sampler that could play small tape loops with pre-recorded sounds. It was especially acknowledged for its very good strings and woodwinds, but it was a very difficult instrument to play and at first classical musicians were afraid that the Mellotron would eventually replace them:
Froese: “We put our headsets on one ear and then we were listening to the tone of the Mellotron while already started playing our stuff. Then by listening to the 440 Hz out of the oscillator, we were tuning the Mellotron against it. So it was the only way of doing it, and that had to be done about ten times during the gig of two and a half hour. Looking back to those days, that sort of adventurous fear, not knowing if you will overcome a good, a bad concert, out of tune concert, or whatever. Today everything, it’s much better tuned, it’s nearly perfect, but it’s not having a wild ride through the jungle any more.” (BBC Radio 2 – December 17th 1997)
Froese: “A couple of hours prior to the start of the gig [Albert Hall '75], someone came along and said “They [the Musicians' Union] are asking for a couple of thousand pounds, for you’re using an orchestra. You are not using THEM, you are using your bloody keys, here. THAT’s an orchestra”. So there was a bit of a fight going on backstage and so we had to pay something, that night.” (BBC Radio 2 – December 17th 1997)
Tangerine Dream were now seriously beginning to create the electronic sound that would be the band’s trademark, and on 25th November 1972, Tangerine Dream gave their first concert with electronic instruments only. It took place at the broadcasting studio of WDR in Cologne and lasted for about 50 minutes.
It was almost a paradox though that Tangerine Dream almost at the same time put out a single called “Utima Thula Part I-II.” With their use of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards it must have been the closest they have ever been to traditional rock. This says something about how the band was searching in different directions and rather limitless at the time.
Even if the single does not resemble their first albums it is quite important since it most certainly reflects rather well how bands like Tangerine Dream, and others with the same attitude to music, sounded when they performed their free kind of rock music in the late sixties and in the early seventies.
In December 1972, Tangerine Dream recorded what was to become the album, Atem. This time it was done without any help from guest musicians. The result was released at the beginning of 1973.
The music still had this “cosmic” atmosphere, but with a lot more dynamics and structure. Especially the vocal (!) track, “Wahn,” stands out – even today. It sounds something like “Stockhausen meets Pink Floyd”…
The now deceased American, John Schaefer, who was a very active and passionate spokesman for every kind of new music, wrote about this phase in Tangerine Dream´s career:
“Here were three young German rock musicians (Klaus Schulze briefly among them) playing music that sounded as bizarre and self-indulgent to pop listeners as Eminent or Stockhausen sounded to much of the traditional classical audience. Often without any recognisable melodies or harmonies, the early Tangerine Dream recordings, such as the two-record set Zeit (Time), took the listener on a flight through a chemical wonderland. Spaced, occasionally abrasive, at times completely adrift from conventional musical forms…”(New Sounds – John Schaefer, 1987, Virgin)
Edgar Froese: “Atem was the beginning of an adventure. For the next few years, we were constantly improving and experimenting and, although it wasn’t perfect – we didn’t always make great music – it was a period which brought me richer experiences than any other” (Melody Maker – 8th October 1994)
Atem was the last album Tangerine Dream made with Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser for the record company Ohr. As it often happens in the music business, disagreements between the artists and the record company evolved. They parted, but only after a lawsuit, and Froese, Franke and Baumann were now looking for a new recording label.
Before the final break, Tangerine Dream played at a remarkable concert arranged by a magazine in Paris. Among others Tangerine Dream were playing together with Ash Ra Temple, Kraftwerk and Klaus Schulze, who have all gained a lot of recognition and almost cult-like status in their genre through the years.
With Atem, Tangerine Dream got some success abroad for the first time, when the English DJ, John Peel, chose Atem as The best album of the year! He often played it on his radio program and was thereby contributing to making Tangerine Dream popular in England.
It was especially the English who opened their eyes to that special kind of progressive rock music, which came from West Germany. The psychedelic wave – with Pink Floyd in front – had cleared the way for a new way of thinking in music.
There was a strong underground scene, which had also revealed itself as having a big commercial potential. As is well known, Mike Oldfield´s Tubular Bells was a very big success even though it was considered a strange album at the time with no traditional vocals or drums. The enormous success of Tubular Bells was forming the financial basis for this little new record company called Virgin Records. A record company, with the eccentric adventurer, Richard Branson, in the forefront, which has now evolved into becoming one of the world’s biggest multimedia companies and now also an airline company.
It was also Virgin Records who promoted Tangerine Dream on a global level for many years and – to some degree – still do.
Legend has it that “on sunny afternoon in August 1973, Richard Branson and Edgar Froese sat on the small wooden stairs in the hallway of Virgin Records store in Nottinghill Gate, London. Both were negotiating the first deal for Tangerine Dream in England. Branson only had a small office above the store. As they agreed upon the main points, Branson pulled out a demo cassette from a certain Oldfield, which he´d received. They gave the pre-prehistoric version of Tubular Bells a listenand the rest is history.” (TDIFC Newsletter # 13 Marts 1991)
Well, anyway it`s a good story.
In the summer of 1973, Peter Baumann took a longer journey to Kathmandu in Nepal and India, among other places. Froese and Franke were not restrained by that fact but took the opportunity to record some pieces at the Skyline Studio in Berlin.
The music which was to become Green Desert – was also made as a sort of demo to show their future record company what they could do. The music was still based on rock instruments like organ, drums and guitar, but it also introduced the sequencer, which was to become the trademark of Tangerine Dream.
There was enough material for a new album, but since Baumann had not been in on the recordings, they agreed to put them aside for a while.
I was not put out until 1986 – and only after Edgar Froese had recorded new voices in 1984, re-recorded some of the music and re-mixed all of it. In 1986 it was finally included in a box with six LPs called “In the beginning.” This box was released to mark the first well almost – 10 years of Tangerine Dream as a band.
Due to the very long time under way, it is therefore not exclusively the original material that can be found on the album, Green Desert.
The cover shown on this page is from the re-mastered Castle Communications version from 1996. The original cover from 1986 shows a deserted landscape with two large rocks in the foreground.
With the ears of today it sounds a little bit static and slow. It does not seem to reach the same intensity as the other albums from the seventies, but it has its good parts too; it is a little bit more melodic than the previous albums. Even Edgar Froese’s very lyrical and melodic way of playing the guitar gets a lot of free space to evolve during the 19 minutes of the title track.
Chris Franke makes vivid use of his drums and seems to improvise all the way through the album. This was, however, the last time he made that extensive use of a real drumkit on a Tangerine Dream record; legend has it that he sold his drums soon after these sessions.
When Baumann returned from his trip to Asia, Tangerine Dream were playing their latest demos for Virgin, and the record company, Virgin Records – owned by Richard Branson, signed a five year world-wide contract with the group. It was a contract that would later be extended to a total of ten golden years on Virgin. A new album went straight into the making, and at the end of 1973, Tangerine Dream left for England and Virgin’s recording studio – The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire. The production, which would be released as Phaedra, began on 20th November and lasted for about three weeks.
Tangerine Dream had received an advance from the forthcoming album sale and the money was straight away invested in a big Moog Modular synthesizer – one of the big monsters you often see the musicians pictured in front of.
The instruments, and the technologies as a whole, created a lot of problems while the recordings took place and almost everything went wrong. It would often take several hours just to get the instruments in tune and make a usable sound. On those first electronic machines there was nothing like memory to save the sound, the tuning and other parameters from session to session.
Edgar Froese: “We worked each day from 11 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock at night. By the eleventh day we barely had 6.5 minutes of music on tape. Technically everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The tape machine broke down, there were repeated mixing console failures and the speakers were damaged because of the unusually low frequencies of the bass notes. After 12 days of this we were completely knacked.”
“Fortunately, after a two-day break in the countryside a new start brought a breakthrough. “Mysterious Semblance” was recorded on 4th December, Peter and Chris were asleep after a long recording session, so I invited my wife Monique into the studio. I called in the studio engineer and recorded it in one take on a double-keyboard Mellotron while Monique turned the knobs on the phasing device. The piece is on the record exactly as it was recorded that day. And this practice was due to continue for the rest of the session.”
“For example, on the title track, Chris pressed the button to start the bubbling bass note. Unfortunately the bass pattern didn’t work the way it should have – after a few seconds, as you can hear on the album, the note drops in but out of tune. Chris then started tuning the bass sequence while running it. What he didn’t know was that I had told the engineer to press the recording button whenever music or some sounds could be heard. So what you hear in the beginning of Phaedra is a rehearsal! Even when I started playing the melody line, it was just a try – no one thought it would go on the record.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994/ Tangents)
Even if almost no one knew about Tangerine Dream in England, Phaedra quickly became very popular: The band had not given any interviews to the music press and besides John Peel’s shows, nobody played their music on the radio. But Phaedra nevertheless managed to slip into Melody Maker‘s album-list and gained a high ranking. Later on, it received gold in several countries!
So this third release, Phaedra, from the trio Froese, Franke and Baumann, in many ways became a turning point in their careers.
Shortly after the recording of Phaedra, Edgar Froese began to work on his first solo-project – Aqua. This album was recorded between November 1973 and March 1974 and it was released on both Brain and Virgin Records by the end of 1974.
On Aqua, Edgar Froese did some experiments with artificial stereo as one of the pioneers in this field of recording; two microphones were put inside the ears of an artificial head and were supposed to hear – and record – as a human being would hear things. One side of the album is recorded with this new technique, which should help improve the stereo image and make a more realistic 3D-sound.
Froese was not completely alone on Aqua; Chris Franke made some of the sounds on a Moog synthesizer, which was an instrument he was beginning to master quite competently.
Chris Franke had spend hours and hours trying to figure out how this vast machine worked and along the way he discovered how it could be used to create different rhythm patterns sequences which was his trademark.
In April 1974, Tangerine Dream explained about their ways of working and the philosophy behind their music making in an interview. The interview was made by the English journalist, Karl Dallas, who later turned into being one of the group’s most regular critics regarding concert and album reviews.
Baumann: “It’s real teamwork. We get into the feeling of the situation and we start to choose the instruments and the special parts from harmony up to rhythm up to the colour of the sound to get close to the situation. When we’re in the right surroundings we can put more of ourselves into the music and thus have more feeling. And the equipment helps.”(Melody Maker – April 1974)
In the interview they told more about those first years with experimenting rock and how the electronic instruments helped breathe new life into the band. They had become very tired of playing loud rock music and everything was getting out of hand when Chris Franke sold his drums. They felt that they had to start from scratch with a simple tone and then re-discover sound and music from there – making new real sounds and not just imitate existing sounds.
Tangerine Dream’s next project was to make music for a theatreshow called Oedipus Tyrannus. This performance was produced by the English actor, Keith Michell, who was very fascinated by the cosmic sound of Phaedra.
The soundtrack was recorded at the CBS-studios in June and it was re-recorded at Virgin’s Manor studio in a version meant for release. But Tangerine Dream were not at all satisfied with the result, and hence the music was never released.
Some of the music was nevertheless released; some pieces from Oedipus Tyrannus were “recycled” on the later live album, Encore. In different places on the track “Desert Dream” the music from Oedipus Tyrannus seem to be put in between bits of live recordings from 1977.
While Tangerine Dream were working on Oedipus Tyrannus, the success of Phaedra was paving the way for a longer tour of some 20 concerts in England later that year.
On 13th December, Tangerine Dream gave a spectacular concert at the cathedral in Reims in France. The atmosphere in this gothic church enlightened by candles was the perfect background for the music of Tangerine Dream.
The music, which was performed by Froese, Franke and Baumann who sat almost motionless in the semi-darkness
in front of their electronic alters, created a mysterious religious mood.
A lot of people made a “pilgrimage” to this event and the cathedral with seats for approximately 2,000 people, had to make room for about 5.000 people that day! This of course did not go by unnoticed, and afterwards this old Catholic cathedral was left in a minor chaos!
Froese: “It was a terrible situation. People couldn’t move, they had to piss up against the walls. You can imagine the mess by the end of the concert.What’s more, we got the blame for it!” (Melody Maker – 8th October 1994)
The consequence was that the Pope, Paul VI, sent out a bull of ex-communication, which banned Tangerine Dream from ever performing in a Catholic church anywhere in the world in the future.
This sort of ban is not something that happens to you every day and of course it created a lot of publicity at that time. Both in private and on stage the band have always been very withdrawn and they have never been surrounded by any rock-star status, so here was finally something for the public eye to dig into.
The ban might be lifted now, but the event is something that often gets mentioned when someone in the media is doing a fast review of Tangerine Dream’s career.
The concert was by the way broadcast on the radio and the music played is very typical of Tangerine Dream at this point – a lot of improvisation – based on long floating soundscapes – played in the minor tone colours.
Already in January 1975, Tangerine Dream returned to the Manor studio to record their second album for Virgin Records. Among the “new” instruments used this time were a new Arp synthesizer, an Elka organ, a gong and a piano. Some of them were of course modified with electronic devices.
Both sides of the album contain one long piece of music, which was still a long way away from a traditional rock music concept. The sequencer parts and rhythms, which float in and out, are the dominant musical element. At the end there is a very grandiose part sounding like a choir, which can easily take your mind to scenes from Arthur C. Clarke’s and Stanley Kubrick`s fantastic science fiction movie 2001. In this “space odyssey,” it was Gyorgi Ligeti who created the cosmic music for the soundtrack, but it could just as easily have been Tangerine Dream.
The recordings for Rubycon progressed much faster than with Phaedra and without any great difficulties. The album was quickly released, already in March the same year. Monique Froese had made the cover and somewhere in the pictures you can find a picture of a young boy…
Froese: “When the band walked into the Manor for the second time, we were weighted down by the pressure of the success of Phaedra. There was a pressure to do it again but one has to point out that Simon Draper (The producer) and Richard Branson at Virgin did not pressure us to be commercial. The attitude was that Tangerine Dream could do whatever they wanted to on record, which was a very unusual practice for a record company.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
Froese: “When we did Rubycon we talked much about if we wanted a commercial success or if we wanted to be progressive on our own terms. And honestly we decided that it was mostly ourselves it was all about. We wanted to develop the music we liked the most and to express ourselves personally.” (Tangenten No.6 – 1994)
Froese: “The recording of Rubycon was a very floating process. Unlike the Phaedra production there was never a break in the creative flow. The band had been on tour for most of the previous year and was now hot to spend a month working on some new music. Because of the commercial success of Phaedra, the sequencers could now be technically better equipped. At that time this branch of technology was fairly unknown and any technical alterations had to be custom-built. This was a very extensive undertaking and most of our earnings went into new equipment.”
“I had orchestral instruments recorded by the BBC for my Mellotron, at the time a very luxurious thing to do. One can hear an oboe on “Rubycon Part 2″ as well as numerous strings sections had horns. The biggest problem, however, was the inconstant power supply at the Manor. At the time there were electrical problems throughout the Oxford region and sometimes the power was cut off for two to three hours at a time. We had to interrupt recording sessions when this happened, to connect our synths to electrical generators. Chris` Moog often played completely random sequences because of the unstable electrical current driving the oscillators. It was a crazy situation. When we finished recording there were altogether 12 hours of music from which to mix the final master.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
When Rubycon came out in March, Tangerine Dream were on a small tour in Australia, where the sales from Phaedra had given them a gold album. This tour turned out to be very difficult though and the reactions of the audiences were pretty mixed; there were airline strikes, which caused delays all the time and the band had to rent a private plane. At one point, the band had to cross Australia in a small eight-seat plane with some of their equipment.
Chris` Moog was damaged during the transport. It was impossible to repair it, and a lot of other general problems with the equipment made the concerts a rather mixed experience – both to the audience and to the band.
Seven concerts were nevertheless accomplished, but without Peter Baumann, who had dropped out of the band for a short while to do something completely different than making music. He was replaced by one of the old friends from Berlin, Michael Hoenig.
This was not the last time Hoenig would appear as a guest musician or stand-in for Peter Baumann, but he never became a regular member even though his playing-style fitted perfectly into the Tangerine Dream concept. Michael Hoenig has later made a solo career in synthesizer music. He has made a lot of soundtracks and produced albums with various artists. It can also be mentioned that he was in on Phillip Glass` album, Koyaanisquatsi, which is the minimalistic soundtrack to the very beautiful movie by the same name.
About getting new members of the band, Edgar Froese has said that in this particular period it was a very complicated affair to get new people to join Tangerine Dream. The technology was still on a very low level, much of it were home-made and you had to have an enormous insight and overview in order to be able to follow the technical aspects and at the same time have some mental reserves to play improvised music – with your soul! It might take years to get on the same level with new people, so the band were consciously determined to stick to the core members, i.e. Froese, Baumann and Franke. And this meant even if Peter Baumann had to do something else once in a while.
To many people, this trio is the real Tangerine Dream crew, and it may hold true in the very sense Edgar Froese mentions above; as very few before or after them, these three people were able to create improvised music on a very high level and with an almost telepathic precision.
As an example of the significance of this trio is the book which come with the four-album box from Virgin, Tangerine Dream ´70 -´80, it contains almost only pictures of Froese, Franke and Baumann. These three gentlemen however, only played together for about six years; the period from 1971-1977, but those years were also the years when Tangerine Dream had the biggest impact as something new and innovative.
On 2nd April 1975, Tangerine Dream gave a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was completely sold out. I have heard some excerpts from the concert, which sounds like something in between the music from Phaedra and Rubycon – with a lot of space for long improvisations.
The concert was also attended by the German music critic, Manfred Gillig, who describes the event in the following way:
“On stage there are mountains of amplifiers, loudspeakers, synthesizers and organs between a pair of palms – all covered in s dim blue light. I am still tired. This can’t go well, I think. But then the three from Berlin are seated behind their mixers and ethereal sounds penetrates the Royal Albert Hall. Quadraphonic sound waves first from the left then from the right and then from behind, from above, the front – I relax. Unearthly noise – a chorus with hundreds of voices covers me and fills up this venerable house. Somewhere was the well-known monolith from 2001 floating. From all directions came drum sounds, floating around in the room for at last gather in the front and a procession of complicated rhythms moving slowly between each other. The drum sounds spreading up against the walls in the giant hall and above it all a helicopter flying with tapping rotor blades. Then the noise of a Mediterranean night; Grasshoppers and cicadas fills Royal Albert Hall with their singing. The surf at the beach, waves chorusing against the stones rolling on the beach. Is it the sea or the banks of Rubycon?” (Träume von synthetischen Mandarinen? – Sounds June 1975)
Later the same year, Tangerine Dream played a few more concerts in Germany and France – once again in Reims; this time not in the cathedral, but in the opera house!
On 4th October 1975, they began a longer tour in England. The first concert, where Tangerine Dream played in Coventry Cathedral, was filmed for the BBC by Tony Palmer. This 28-minute long TV film was shown on Swedish TV shortly afterwards, and I think that this was one of my first rendezvous with Tangerine Dream and their music.
This movie gives quite a good picture of how Tangerine Dream made use of visual elements as an important part of their show. It is not as much the pictures of the musicians on stage as it is the use of colours, candles, the architecture of the church together with the music that creates the special mood.
Well, there might be another reason why you do not see that much of the musicians; if you look closely, you will see that something is not right; what you see and what their fingers play are not synchronised – the music is taken from the album, Ricochet and put on to the pictures later – and even Ricochet is an album put together from many different live pieces and not just one concert.
The following year, it became one of Tangerine Dream’s trademarks to play at exotic venues rather than ordinary concerts at ordinary concert halls. Many churches, cathedrals and other historically interesting places have formed the visual background for the music.
In November 1975, a live album was released with the title Ricochet. It was recorded during the tour earlier the same year, in England and possible France. The title is not as cosmic as those on the previous albums: Ricochet is just named after an electronic game the band got obsessed with during these tours.
Ricochet is a very good live recording, but whether or not it is a real live album might be a good question; approximately 40 hours of music was recorded on the tour, so Tangerine Dream spent a lot of time finding the best pieces and putting them together to form a new piece. New material was also added – as the piano solo at the beginning of “Ricochet Part 2,” which was recorded on the piano in the living room at the Manor Studio a few days earlier! Several parts were recorded in a studio – like the drum part maybe? But all in all, the result is rather good and the music on the album is more melodic than the music on the previous albums.
It is also impressive that Tangerine Dream managed to get that much good music from the concerts down on tape at all, since they did not make any substantial use of a frontmixer, but did most of the mixing themselves on stage. To be able to hear what was coming out of the front speakers, it was necessary to turn up the volume and that might not always have been a pleasure to the audience; Tangerine Dream had gained the reputation of being one of the loudest bands around and at one point the sound pressure in front of the P.A. system was measured to be about 120 dB.
Many people consider Ricochet as one of the highlights of Tangerine Dream´s early career and I can only agree to that. I think that this album whether live or not captures many of the elements that is the quintessence of Tangerine Dream in this period; driving sequencers, melodic guitar, the mellotron lurking in the background, strange sounds, a cosmic atmosphere and on top of that, simple but very logic melodies or themes given sufficient time to be explored deeply.
In the spring of 1976, Tangerine Dream played a few concerts in various places around Europe, and all through that summer, Peter Baumann recorded his first solo project, Romance 76. He felt that he had more and more difficulties finding his role in Tangerine Dream and he needed to go his own ways. He was passionate about his first solo album, and it gained a lot of appreciation and was even played on the radio a few times.
In August, Tangerine Dream went to the Audio studio in Berlin to record what would become the album, Stratosfear. It was released in October, and at the same time, the band went on a big tour throughout Europe to promote the album. More than 30 concerts in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, England and Scotland were accomplished.
Stratosfear is much more ordinary in its sound and expression than the earlier albums. The tracks are shorter than before and they are much more melodic. The music has a higher degree of tonality and a lot of acoustic instruments like the grand piano, the chembalo and the mouth organ (!).
Edgar Froese made frequent use of his abilities on both the acoustic and the electric guitar. His very characteristic and melodic way of playing has later on become one of the trademarks of the band.
As so many times before, in these very early days of electronics, they had a lot of problems with their equipment while recording: Peter Baumann had a new sequencer, which it had taken a German company a year to build, but it was not completely ready and in the studio it did not work properly. When it was finally made to work, the multi-track recorders broke down and at one point, smoke was pouring out of the studio’s Dolby units and they could not record without them.
The three members of the band were very frustrated and besides the technical problems they where arguing about what music they should play and have on the album:
Froese: “When I appeared in the studio one day with a harmonica, the absurdity of the situation was revealed. It was supposed to be a joke, retort to the unpredictability of the technology., but after playing it during the beginning of “3 A.M.” everybody decided to leave it on. So much had happened during these sessions – master tapes at times disappeared from the studio, finished tracks were mysteriously erased and the mixing console finally went up in smoke. The events which occurred during the making of Stratosfear alone would fill an entire book!” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
If you could feel the same mood on the earlier albums as in the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, then the cover of Stratosfear might be a clear reference to this movie; big Monolith-like objects floating in formation over a deserted and strange landscape! Once again a spectacular cover from the hands of Monique Froese.
Stratosfear is a classic, and in my opinion, also one of the absolutely best albums by Tangerine Dream. Even the band members themselves must have been rather satisfied with the result, because the title track has often been played at concerts and been re-recorded in different versions – the latest one on Tyranny of Beauty with the title, “Stratosfear 1995.”
This was also the period where a new chapter in the career of Tangerine Dream would begin, when they were asked by the American film director William Friedkin (who made movies like The French Connection and Exorcist) to make the music for his movie. Friedkin was very enthusiastic about the music of Tangerine Dream and wished to use their music to make a frame around a re-making of Clouzots’ The Wages of Fear from 1953.
Tangerine Dream were handed the script and were given the opportunity to do whatever they wanted. Finally, it ended up with the rather unusual situation that the soundtrack was ready before the camera work began!
While working in the jungle, William Friedkin placed loudspeakers all over the place and played Tangerine Dream’s music to inspire and get the film crew into the right mood.
These very good and free conditions were perfect working conditions for Tangerine Dream and their electronic instruments.
Froese: “All our knowledge about improvising and creating very fast meant that when we sat down for the first time and started to compose the music for Friedkin – the first time I’ve ever composed – it was so easy! It was so easy because we just put down in a few words: a few discussions about forms and melody lines and prism structures and so on. We wrote it down, we made some scripts and then we taped the lot!” (New Musical Express – July 1977).
When the movie finally had its premiere, Tangerine Dream were a little bit disappointed by the result: according to the band, too many of the tracks were not used in their entirety and lost a little bit of the idea, but in several places – like at the beginning of the movie, where you see a helicopter passing over the South American rain forest – the music fits perfectly.
William Friedkin; “The music of Tangerine Dream was an early and major inspiration for the film Sorcerer. One day in the middle of a primeval forest in the Dominican Republic, about six month into shooting, a tape arrived from THE DREAM, containing ninety minutes of musical impressions. It is from this tape that the film has been scored. They just read the script and recorded the entire score. Yet somehow they were able to capture and enhance every nuance of each moment where their music is heard. The film and the score are inseparable.” (Sorcerer slevenotes – 1977)
The movie was never really a success, but when the soundtrack came out in the summer of 1977, it was nevertheless found to be on the English charts. This clearly opened some door to the film industry, where Tangerine Dream ended up being one of the most used bands for composing soundtracks.
For a long period of time the band made a good living out of making music for bigger and smaller movie productions. In the eighties you could almost talk about a mass production, until it got too much for Edgar Froese & co. They have now stopped that line of work – at least until further notice – well, apart from some minor soundtrack production now and then.
At the beginning of 1977, Peter Baumann was occupied with arranging his studio in Berlin and incorporating new equipment. It was left to Froese and Franke to plan the forthcoming tour in the United States.
The tour started on 29th March in Milwaukee, and ended on 26th April but was later extended with four concerts in July and August. The tour turned out to be a very big success and many concerts were sold out in only a few days. Some concerts had to be cancelled since some of the promoters went bankrupt when Emerson, Lake and Palmer called off a big tour with a 120-piece orchestra. The promoters – and Tangerine Dream – lost a lot of money.
A new P.A. system – specially designed for Tangerine Dream in England – was brought into use on that tour. It was designed by Martin Audio and was able to handle both the very deep bass and the very clear sound that a synthesizer can produce. Especially the lowest spectrum of a synthesizer sound can be very violent to a speaker system, but this new equipment could handle it and play loud – and it was played very LOUD!
For the concerts, Tangerine Dream had chosen to use the company “The Laserium Light Show” for the visual side of the tour. It was one of the first companies to incorporate lasers in their light show, which they have been doing since 1973. Sent through different kinds of prisms and modulated otherwise, a laser can create the most unbelievable and beautiful colours, figures and forms in three dimensions.
For many years, The Laserium was located at the Planetarium in London, and every day there were several shows; to the music of Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre and Alan Parsons you could experience a “laserist” improvise – and it was different from show to show.
I myself have taken the journey below the star dome in the London Planetarium quite a few times, and it has been an extraordinary experience every time. If you remember the last part of Stanley Kubrick’s famous movie 2001, you will have an idea of what it was like…Sadly, the Laserium in London does not exist anymore! Miles from the New Musical Express wrote about his experience of the Laserium at the concert in Washington D.C:
“A nebulous cloud appeared on the screen behind the group. It floated, ever-changing, in an illusion of three dimensions, like an universe in creation. The intensity of the red laser light gave the projected image a degree of substance that a conventional light-show lack. It was as if flames were burning inside the cloud!” (NME 16/7 – 1977)
The tour was immortalised on the double album, Encore, which came out in October 1977. It made its way to a 55th placement on the English charts. The music is the well-known style from the past few years – four long pieces that each take up one side of the album. The album sounds very live-like and the presence of the audience is quite obvious, but a lot of re-mixing and pasting of music from different concerts and recordings from the performance, Oedipus Tyrannous, was done at the studio afterwards. Bootlegs of the concerts show a different picture; the concerts were much more heavy and raw than Encore seems to reflect.
It was Peter Baumann who did the mixing on the album and that would become his last assignment as a musician in Tangerine Dream; he left the group in November to concentrate on a solo career.
There had been a lot of controversy during the seven years the trio played and toured together, and the rumours had been whirling: Peter Baumann had left the band, he was being replaced by a computer, he had gone solo, he had re-entered the band, he had never left, and so on…
Shortly before the final break, and while the three musicians were still submitted to stay together in Tangerine Dream, both Baumann and Froese talked about the situation in the band in different interviews with Miles:
Baumann: “We want to be very cautious about what we are doing. We are not splitting up we are not married! It’s always the same with a group; you can have a common status when you start but I cannot imagine three people having over six years the same kind of development musically and personally – both very important. So it`s more than natural that we say we have to be aware of what we are doing, otherwise we will lose our identity.
Edgar is 8 or 9 years older than me. He is married. He has a child. I think these things really do matter to the kind of things you are playing. We had no discussion in the beginning – we had the same background – we just did it and we found this is what we wanted to do. The world has changed in the last seven years. We just thought we couldn’t and on with what we did in the beginning – it would be dishonest. The end was Ricochet and the new beginning was Stratosfear. This is a time of changing!” (Miles – NME 16/7 – 1977)
Froese: “What I’ve found is that all the success of the last one and a half years was psychologically a bit much, you know? I’m 33 now and I’ve been connected professionally with music for about 13 or 14 years so it doesn’t get to me. I think I can handle money very carefully – I’ve got quite a lot of knowledge about it. But these two boys are ten years younger and they´ve got a high income. And you have to be fair. You have to help them a little bit to get everything the right way; Not buying big cars, liquor…success is something which could happen for one week or ten years, you know? It depends on an intelligent operation situation.” (Miles – NME 16/7 – 1977)
But their opinions on how the band should be run were too different and Peter Baumann finally left. They parted at a time when Tangerine Dream were at the peak of their creativity and also very popular. They were later to meet each other again on a more professional level many years later.
Baumann wanted to do something more popular and dance-like music – or something on “the edge-points of pop music,” as he called it himself – and for a few years he was still very active as a musician. It led to records in his own name with melodic electro-pop and he had a co-operation with the singer, Robert Palmer, among others.
At the end of the seventies, a lot of electronic music had already hit the charts. More and more bands had recieved recognition – both in Germany and in the rest of the world. Kraftwerk was gaining the status of a cult-band, Klaus Schulze had his breakthrough as a solo-artist, Jean Michel Jarre had a gigantic hit with his “Oxygene,” and David Bowie had left the business for a short while and was moving to Berlin…
Bowie was very attracted to this special kind of electronic music, which first and foremost came from and had its origins in Germany, and he had made a lot of contacts with the musicians, and one of them was Edgar Froese.
Bowie, who had been educated at art schools and had been studying art like Froese, was very fascinated by Froese´s original concept of “pictures of sound” and “timeless music.” They often met while David Bowie lived in Berlin and had long discussions about literature, art and not at least music. They even talked about making some music together:
Froese: “He got a flat in Berlin and every day or every second day we went out and had long conversations about art – techniques and the styles of painting. But the problem was that my time plan was different from his time plan…” (NME – July 1977)
It never got down to any musical cooperation between Froese and Bowie. Instead, David Bowie teamed up with Brian Eno in a studio in Berlin, where they made the great album Low. This is Bowie’s most electronic album and the sources of inspiration are quite obvious.
Well, Froese and Franke were looking for a replacement for Peter Baumann and they ended up with two old friends from Berlin.
Johannnes Schmoelling: “Franke and Froese decided to get two musicians in to replace Baumann. One was the flautist Steve Joliffe who was briefly in the group in 1969. He had been working with film music and animation in London and was happy to rejoin old friend Froese. The other was the drummer Klaus Krieger who had known Froese since 1962. He was a member of Berlin’s art and design circle and was always on intimate terms with the Dream. He had even played on one of Froese`s many solo projects, Ages, in 1978.” (NME – May 1978)
This new Tangerine Dream crew went into the studio at the beginning of 1978 to record the next album. It was the Audio Studio in Berlin that had to make room for a vast arsenal of old and new instruments. Among these were a new guitar-synthesizer from Roland – a GR 500 – and a wind-synthesizer – a Lyricon.
Shortly after the recording sessions, the album was released and it was called Cyclone. Edgar Froese had used the paintbrush himself and created a very beautiful cover – maybe a landscape after a violent storm?
Cyclone was an album very different from the earlier, more cosmic releases. With drums, guitars and vocals it was much more like a rock album and to many people, it was an unexpected release. The critics did not hold themselves back; a lot of the music press found Cyclone a terrible and redundant album, which betrayed the original idea of Tangerine Dream while others regarded the new style as some of the best the band had released to this date.
Well, the album seems to have regained some in recent years to most people, but I have always found it an excellent album. I still think that the light grandiosity and especially the strange woodwind improvisations by Steve Joliffe in the middle of “Bent Cold Sidewalk” still have much weight, and it is one of my favourite albums.
Froese: “I understood the criticism at that time, but it wasn’t anything new to us. As far back as I can recall some people have thought we’re geniuses and others have dismissed as a bunch of dumb knob-twiddlers. So what? I think it`s fair to respect all opinions.” (Melody Maker – 8 October 1994)
Maybe Tangerine Dream, or at least Edgar Froese, paid close attention to the critics, and since its release, none of the material has ever been present on their compilations! Edgar Froese seems to distance himself from this particular album. Anyhow, it was obvious that in no circumstances did Tangerine Dream want to be caught up in a certain style.
Cyclone was immediately followed up by a large tour around Europe – 32 concerts in one and a half months in England, France, Germany and Spain.
This time, they also toured with the Laserium and a very well equipped light show. It turned out to be a very successful tour, the concerts were almost sold out, and Tangerine Dream were well received – also in Germany where they have always had difficulties with obtaining any recognition.
The tour went well, but inside the band things were not at all that happy and the chemistry between the four musicians was not too good during the tour, so Edgar and Chris decided to try something else on the next album.
Shortly after the Cyclone tour, Steve Joliffe left the band again, but already in August, the trio Froese, Franke and Krieger was working on a new album – Force Majeure. This time in the Hansa studio in Berlin.
Force Majeure was a long time in the making and was not released until the end of 1979. This time, as opposed to Cyclone, the new album recived high praise from the critics and quickly hit the charts in England. Here it achieved to become number 26 on the album chart.
The music was still rock-based with Froese´s guitar and Krieger´s drums in the foreground, but the music develops throughout the album and ends up with something that sounds like a subway ride in the London Underground breaking every speed limit! The album also contains one of the finest pieces of music Tangerine Dream have ever written – “Cloudburst Flight.” This piece was by the way used as the signature of the weather forecast on the Italian TV station RAI.
A big tour throughout Germany was scheduled to take place – after the success of the Cyclone tour – but it had to be cancelled because Force Majeure did not sell very well in Tangerine Dream´s native country.
After the recording of Force Majeure had taken place, Klaus Krieger left Tangerine Dream. Krieger had always had a very loose connection with the band – more like a session musician – and at the end of the day, Froese and Franke did not really want to work with real drums. Instead, there was room for another keyboard player as a replacement for Peter Baumann, as it had been the intention all along ever since Baumann left the band. This replacement was found in Johannes Schmoelling – aged 29. At the time, he was working as a sound engineer at the Hansa studio.
Froese: “Johannes was very professional in terms of music and studio work. He had a remarkable ability to concentrate and could work for long stretches of time. He had several years of experience as an audio technician at the famous Berlin Schaubüne Theatre of Peter Steins. I visited a performance there of Robert Wilson’s Death, Destruction and Detroit.Johannes had created all the sound collages one could hear throughout the play. I was so enthused by the five-hour performance that I asked Johannes afterwards if he wanted to join Tangerine Dream.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
Well, apparently Johannes Schmoelling liked the idea, and for the following six years, he was a regular member of Tangerine Dream. Johannes Schmoelling was born in Lohne, Germany in 1950 and he began playing the piano at the age of eight. He later moved on to the pipe organ and played professionally in various churches before he graduated from college in 1978 with a degree in sound engineering.
Maybe he already had his debut on Force Majeure, where he may have been involved in the production when the band – towards the end of the track “Thru Metamorphic Rocks” – made a very expressive sound collage with sounds of running trains and so on. Well, maybe not in an interview in 1997 Edgar Froese told a journalist that this particular track actually got its strange and futuristic sound by accident:
Froese: “The reason is simply that “Metamorphic Rocks” had an accident in the mixing desk. So while we did the recording the tape ran, and all the instruments were locked in, and we played, and we improvised quite a lot all the time. Then all of a sudden something went wrong with the desk. So there were a lot of strange noises all of a sudden which appear within the track and are totally wrong, but which actually made sense in the music. We listened to it again and again and said ‘should we? shouldn’t we?’ Finally we said ‘okay, leave it the way it is.” (Interview with Ashley Franklin and Nick Willder on 29 October 1997 Soundscapes 16 November 1997)
Quichotte / Pergamon
The first big assignment for Johannes Schmoelling as a member of Tangerine Dream was a special concert in East Berlin. As one of the first western rock bands the band was invited to perform behind the “Iron Curtain.” But this only happened after years of negotiations with the East German authorities. When they finally agreed, it might have been because Tangerine Dream were a purely instrumental band with anonymous musicians, who did not appear as the usual western decadent rock stars. They were allowed to play on the other side of the Wall.
Froese: “…we could assure them not to use words in any way!” (TDIFC newsletter #7).
Actually, there were two concerts but both on the same day; they were held on 31st January 1980 in the afternoon and in the evening. The concerts were broadcast on the East German radio, but even so, the concerts were sold out and the tickets were traded at very high prices on the black market.
The official East German radiostation, GDR, had the rights to the music recorded at the concerts and one of the conditions was that it would not be released on any label in the western world for a period of 6 years. Excerpts from the concerts were then released with the title Quichotte on the East German record label, Amiga Records. This album was also given new life in the studio, but not to the same extent as the earlier live albums.
Several years later, Virgin records bought the rights to this music, Tangerine Dream did some re-mixing, and in 1986 it was released with the title, Pergamon.
As Tangerine Dream were beginning to prepare the recording of a new album, the music on these live releases was obviously a testground for the new material; you can hear much of the forthcoming Tangram in free form – if not improvised. It is not a bad album at all.
When Schmoelling joined Tangerine Dream, the band took a new direction and the long improvisations with a very simple harmonic base, or even just a drone, were replaced by more complex harmonic structures and composed pieces.
Schmoelling: “Before I joined, I felt the music of Tangerine Dream was basically built on sequencer loops, more or less in one key, with little harmonic changes and long ongoing sessions of improvisation. When I joined we tried a mixture of more structured elements with more jazz-orientated chords, composed melodies and synthesizer solos close to rock.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
The first result of the work of this new trio was the album, Tangram, which was recorded in Franke´s new studio, Polygon, in Berlin. It was recorded during the spring of 1980, and was released in May the same year.
Tangram is one piece of music split up by the two sides of the album and it is much more diverse and softer than previously. It is much more interesting and chord progressions form the framework around the melodic structures and synth or guitar solos. On side two is a very convincing solo which sounds like it has been played on some kind of guitar synthesizer, but in an interview Schmoelling revealed that he actually played it on a keyboard after practising a lot on how a real guitar player would perform his playing.
Again, the cover was made by Monique Froese with her beautiful and atmospheric photographs: on the front cover is some kind of strange red laser beam, which breaks out of the cover. On the inner sleeve, she has made a big Tangram figure of mirrors, which reflect the white snow in a winter dressed forest.
The cover shown on this page is not the original, but from a later issue. The first cover was all red with this strange laser light in the middle.
A Tangram is, by the way, a very old Chinese puzzle; a square is broken up in certain fragments and with those, it is possible to make a vast number of other forms and figures. A Tangram was used for telling stories. Why don`t you try it out yourself? Take a look at the last page of this book.
It is a very convincing and wholehearted album, and all the details have been carefully worked out, and Tangram is absolutely one of Tangerine Dream’s best albums. After its release, it could also be found on the English charts.
The album was released in October, and in November it was followed up by a longer tour in most of Western Europe, and that meant the countries south of Germany and as usual, Tangerine Dream did not come to Scandinavia and to this day they still have not played here.
Two concerts were also launched in the USA in late November 1980, and the tour in Europe was resumed again in January/February the following year.
1980 would also become the year when Tangerine Dream seriously established themselves in Hollywood and began their vast production of soundtracks.
Michael Mann had just ended the scoring of the movie, Thief. With James Caan in the leading rolo, the movie was about a shabby professional thief’s last attempt at doing something big, to make a name for himself in the business.
Michael Mann was looking for someone to make the soundtrack, and William Friedkin recommended Tangerine Dream. All parties involved took the assignment very seriously, and therefore some of the most modern equipment was brought into the project; a brand-new computer called GDS was used for synchronising the film to the music and the sound effects. The band was very enthusiastic about the project:
Edgar Froese: “It was a pleasure because we had a finished film to work from. When we did Sorcerer we created the music before a foot of film had been shot.
The exotic and shifting moods of Thief fitted in perfectly with the kind of music we played. Making the soundtrack allowed us to play around in the studio a bit and create a piece of music we thought would fit the picture like a glove. Yet would also stand on its own.” (Elektra/Asylum press-release – September 1981 / Tangents)
Johannes Schmoelling: “Thief was my first experience in composing music for a movie. We were very much influenced by the director in that he wanted the music to be very loud, like a drilling noise in the brain. So we created heavy guitar sounds combined with heavy sequencer rhythms. Contrasts were created by the use of lyric tunes like Beach Theme.” (Interview with Mark Pendergast – January 1994 / Tangents)
The critics were very enthusiastic when the movie came out in March 1981, and one review was better than the other. More and more frequently Tangerine Dream were contacted by film producers and directors, who wanted to make use of their music.
Tangerine Dream `70 – `80
1980 was also the year when Tangerine Dream could celebrate their first 10 years as recording artists. This event was celebrated by their record company, Virgin Records, with the release of a box containing four LPs.
The music consisted of excerpts from most of the albums that Tangerine Dream had put out up to that point. As an extra bonus, one side of the album had three solo-tracks by Froese, Franke and Baumann, respectively. None of these tracks had been released previously. This vinyl release was made in the absolute best pressing and had a very good sound quality.
Besides, the box contains a 28-page book; on a single page the history of the band is briefly summarised and the rest of the book is filled with pictures from the many tours, concerts and from the recording sessions.
This compilation of four albums was to become the first in a long line of compilations and re-issues to carry the name, Tangerine Dream, on the cover. In recent years all too many of this sort of compilations has been put out by various record companies just reissues of old material and nothing new.
The next task was to rebuild their studio and to get the latest technologies adapted to Tangerine Dream’s ways of working. A new Fairlight, which was one of the first real samplers on the market, was also brought in.
Froese: “We built everything around the MCI mixing console, because we needed to have all the instruments quite near. We didn’t use acoustic instruments at all and we didn’t need an engineer. We had everything around us, the same way as on stage.” (Elektra/Asylum press-release – September 1981/ Tangents)
Exit was recorded between June and July 1981 on equipment that seemed to be just “state of the art.” The soundscape, which Tangerine Dream achieved, was also of a high quality compared to the usual standard at the time.
Monique Froese had made a very futuristic cover for the album and both the titles and the music have a science-fiction-like atmosphere.
Exit, with the track, “Kiew Mission,” starts with someone reciting a message in Russian about peace and friendship on Earth, and it must be the closest thing to a clear and concrete political message the band have ever given.
For a while, Tangerine Dream were involved with the peace movement and had arranged for a few thousand copies of Exit to be shipped and distributed to different people in the Soviet Union:
Froese: “The words are directed at the people in Russia. It’s a very spiritual message we hope will ease the situation over here. If you are in Europe right now you would see that all people talk about the Third World War. As musicians we can use our music to say something about the positive side and hope our message gets through.” (Elektra/Asylum press-release – September 1981/ Tangents)
Shortly after the release of Exit, Tangerine Dream played at a very big disarmament demonstration in front of the Reichtag building in Berlin. About 100.000 people participated in the demonstration.
On the 15th of October, Tangerine Dream went on a tour, which first of all brought them to England, but also a few concerts were held in Germany before the year was over.
On 9th December, Tangerine Dream played a remarkable concert with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in Munich. It was on a so-called “Klassik Rock Nacht,” and it was transmitted live to 12 countries. One of the highlights was a 20-minute long version of the track, “Mojave Plan,” which was arranged for a symphonic orchestra and Tangerine Dream.
Froese, Franke and Schmoelling were working on a follow-up to Exit in January 1982, and as early as February, Tangerine Dream went on tour. For the second time, they played in Australia. They gave only a few concerts in almost a month.
In March, the album that was supposed to follow up on the success with Exit, came out and it was entitled, White Eagle. To many people the music was a mixed pleasure. The sound was very hard and synthetic – maybe the new digital instruments made their marks on the music a little too much. The melodic material was rather limited, and only a few of the tracks could come up to the standard of the previous album, Exit.
The cover, which is a little dull in my opinion was designed by Monique and Edgar Froese; It shows the Earth surrounded by a giant triangle. Could this be some kind of peace message again? And the title; The white Eagle of peace? Or something about USA?
One track though – the title track “White Eagle” – went on to become a kind of a minor hit for the band, when it was used as the signature tune of an episode of the German TV detective series Tatort. “Tatort” means “scene of the crime” in German.
The track was released on a single with the German title “Das Mädchen auf der Treppe” and it is the closest Tangerine Dream have ever been to having a hit single! Later, Tangerine Dream made more music for the same television series, but most of it has never been released.
In 1997, “White Eagle” was released once again on the TDI label in different versions and re-mixes on two different Limited Edition CD singles. This time it was also called “Maedchen on the stairs.”
At the beginning of 1997 a friend and I were asked to make a cover version of “White Eagle” – along with one of my all time favourite Tangerine Dream tracks, “Stratosfear” – for the compilation, Tangerine Ambience 2. It was hard work and quite difficult to match the original, but we learned a lot of how subtle a Tangerine Dream track could be put together. Along the way I even came to appreciate this album too even though I don`t think it is one of their strongest works.
“Recorded live at the Dominion – London 6/11 1982″
Later, in 1982, it was time again for another big European tour and this time it brought Tangerine Dream to Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, Yugoslavia, England, Scotland, and Germany – both the East and West.
On the 6th of November, Froese, Franke and Schmoelling played a concert at the Dominion Theatre in London. This concert was recorded and later released as the album, Logos, the following spring.
The title track, “Logos Part 1 & 2,” takes up most of the two sides of this vinyl release and seems to be a return to the earlier improvised concerts, but like today’s concerts it is more likely a collection of themes put together with well prepared bridges. The rhythm and the sequencer are put a little bit in the background and more soft and melodic structures unfold.
The music is much better and more vivid on this live record than on the previous studio album, White Eagle. Logos has a lot more drive and it still stands out today as most of Tangerine Dreams live albums do.
The final track on the album, “Dominion,” which is an encore apparently, is exceptional in the sense that it is very grandiose – and almost cheerful.
In June 1983, Tangerine Dream were in Japan for the first time and as always when touring the band gave themselves plenty of time of to visit some of the cultural sites and other exotic places. History and art have always been some of Edgar Froese´s main interests apart from music and he always made certain the band members were able to get new inspiration wherever they were in the world.
Even if the band have had some commercial success in japan, only four concerts were performed and Tangerine Dream have never played on the Japanese islands since.
“Consider your self” (Buddha)
Tangerine Dream’s next album, Hyperborea, which was recorded in August 1983, came to mark the end of long period of time on the Virgin label, and it was the last real studio recording Tangerine Dream made for Virgin Records.
The title, Hyperborea, refers to an old legend of a paradise or utopia supposed to be located a little bit further away than the North Wind.Something like the lost worlds of Lemuria or the more familiar Atlantis.
The cover by Monica Froese also looks something like an ice landscape with a golden disc in the sky. Hyperborea perhaps? The cover even has some kind of a bar code attached which to me evoke the associations of something you have just picked up in the supermarket there might be some deeper meaning by that?
As usual, a lot of new equipment was brought in and sampling was heavily used to make new sounds. Those new digital instruments and samplers were sounding a little rough, though, and sometimes it sounds a little too cold and hard.
The music seems to be very much inspired by ethnic music – Asian perhaps? Something sounding like a sitar is heard and tablas have a role in the rhythm throughout the album. All the ethnic sounds blend together with the well-known Dream sound, but in my opinion, the album as a whole does not reach any heights. Once again, you could say that the following live version of the music from this period – Poland – is much more solid and interesting.
Despite my opinion about Hyperborea, it managed to reach # 45 on the English album chart when it was released in November 1983.
“The Warsaw Concert”
In August 1983, Froese, Franke and Schmoelling performed at an open-air concert at the Lycabettus amphitheatre in Athens before a very enthusiastic audience. The music was a bit similar to what can be heard on live recordings like Logos and the forthcoming Poland – and these are long tracks with some degree of improvisation.
One of the concerts was, by the way, transmitted on Greek television and an interview was broadcast at the same time.
Shortly after Hyperborea was released in November 1983, Tangerine Dream played two memorable concerts in Poland. They took place at the Warsaw Ice Stadium on 10th December, and Froese, Franke and Schmoelling performed both an afternoon and an evening concert.
Well, at that time, Poland was not in any way particularly prepared for this kind of big rock show with the heavy “iron curtain” still there, and a well-equipped concert hall was not an option.
They were offered an ice-skating stadium instead, but the ice was only just covered for the day: Warsaw Ice Stadium had a temperature of about minus 5 degrees Celsius, and the three musicians had to play with woollen gloves on their hands. In the breaks – and there were a lot of those since the power supply failed several times – the musicians had their hands in hot water so that they would not loose the feeling with the keyboards completely. At the same time, a disaster was threatening the crowd; two meters of heavy snow on the roof was close to make the building collapse. Under these chaotic conditions, it must have been very difficult for the band to perform their music.
The next year – 1984 – was one of the very few years, when Tangerine Dream did not release a studio album, but instead the recordings of the two concerts in Warsaw were put out on a double album in November with the very original title – Poland. It was released by Tangerine Dream’s new record label, Jive Elektro.
Poland is a typical TD live album; very little noise from the crowd, and of course, the usual good sound quality, but most certainly, after a heavy re-mix and perhaps a lot of overdubbing with new parts and bridges made after the concert! All the stress the band must have endured through the concerts does not seem to have affected their ability to perform and the result on the album actually sounds quite warm…
“The World, indeed, is like a Dream and the Treasures of the World are an alluring Mirage. Like the apparent distances in a Picture, Things have no reality in themselves but are like heat Haze” (Buddha)”
Le Parc was recorded in January/February 1985 in Berlin, London and Vienna, respectively. This album contains nine short pieces and is the beginning of the end of the long improvised tracks – at least on the studio albums.
The music is a kind of rather light and modern pop. On all pieces there is a solid bass and rhythm. The sequencers with sampled drum sounds are obviously working overtime, but the arrangements are very light-hearted and catchy, so even if the rhythms are rather complex, they are discreetly put in the background.
On two of the tracks, “Yellowstone Park” and “Zen Garden,” there are wordless singing by Clare Torry and Katja Brauneis. Furthermore, Robert Kastler is contributing with very beautiful Roland Trumpets on one track.
Le Parc was released in May the same year, and the cover, which apparently is a close-up of some steel umbrellas, is as usual photographed and designed by Monique Froese.
Tangerine Dream did not give any concerts at all that year, and maybe this was because Johannes Schmoelling was getting a little tired of the routines of recording, touring and the stressing work with soundtracks, which constantly demanded Tangerine Dream’s presence in Hollywood:
Ever since the success of the soundtrack to the movie Thief, and until the beginning of the nineties, Tangerine Dream were, as already mentioned, a very sought-after band in the Mecca of the movie industry. At times, they had much more work than they could manage. There were long working sessions, which often lasted until early in the morning, and it required a very strong mentality. On the other hand, there was (and still is…right, Franke?) a lot of good money in this line of work, and along the way it helped establish the economic foundation of Tangerine Dream’s own studios; both Froese, Franke and Schmoelling had established private studios around the world on their own premises – and of course, with the best and most modern equipment that the music business had to offer. This was, however, a two-edged sword since they had to take on more and more commercial work just to pay for their new and expensive equipment.
Anyway, Schmoelling left Tangerine Dream at the end of 1985 to concentrate on his own career and his recording studio, the Riet Studio in Berlin. He and the Froeses still seem to be on friendly terms, and it has been announced that some of Johannes Schmoelling`s work will be available on Tangerine Dream’s own label, TDI Music, sometime in the near future.
Shortly after Schmoelling left the band, he was replaced by Paul Haslinger, an Austrian musician whom Edgar Froese had met in Vienna. Paul Haslinger had done some studies at the Academy of Music in Vienna. Actually he got a master degree at the academy for making a documentary list of all events associated with the last year of W.A. Mozart’s life.
Apart from being a brilliant keyboard player and guitarist, Paul Halinger also had a considerable knowledge of computers and music equipment.
“You can produce the sound of two Hands clapping. Now, how does one hand sound?” (Zen Question)”
Already in January 1986, the new trio began the recording of Underwater Sunlight. The album had two long pieces and perhaps some fans seem to spot a return to those classic improvised Tangerine Dream passages. The music, though, does not bear any resemblance to the improvised highlights of the earliest albums, but it is a rather well composed suite – a little along the same lines as Tangram.
The guitar was back in the soundscape again, but this time with a completely new and more modern sound than before: Paul Haslinger might be responsible for some of the guitar work on this album, but sometimes Edgar Froese´s very personal style is clearly heard; very melodic, a little bit of blues colour, in his own tempo and not very accurate, but always very beautiful – one of the characteristics of the Tangerine Dream sound.
Even if one of the first biggest influences on Froese was Jimi Hendrix, he mentions a more modern and quite different guitar player as a source of inspiration in an interview with John Diliberto – and that is, Eddie Van Halen:
Froese: “I don’t know if I should say this”, laughs Froese,”…but I like his guitar playing. I think he’s the best guitar player. Not because he is very fast, but because he’s the only guitar player in my opinion, who knows how to transform the dynamics of classical music into guitar playing.” (John Diliberto – Down Beat, October 1986)
The music on Underwater Sunlight is very airy – or one might say floating? Big broad accords fill the album and a lot of reverb and other sonic effects are used to create an atmosphere that reflects the title, Underwater Sunlight. Monique Froese`s cover could also remind you of an underwater photo of reflections in the surface.
The album became available in the shops in May but already in March, Paul Haslinger had his debut with Tangerine Dream as a live band when they started out on a longer tour.
Tangerine Dream played from 9th to 31st March, and gave 21 concerts in England, Scotland, Germany and France.
After a short brake, the tour was continued in North America, where Tangerine Dream started out with a performance on 31st May at the World Exhibition – “Expo 86″ – in Vancouver, Canada, to finally end their world tour in Washington DC on 29th June – 25 concerts later.
“Look at your fingers of your hands if you want to know how things that are different can be the same” (Mikhail Naimy)
Tangerine Dream’s next release, Tyger, once again came to mean a few changes for the band. Froese, Franke and Haslinger had a gap between sessions in the movie studios and wanted to do something new. Edgar Froese came up with the suggestion that they could use some of the English poet William Blake’s texts – even though the last album with vocals (Cyclone) had not been a big success.
This album, which was re-made in Berlin and Vienna in February 1987, is built up around four of William Blake’s poems and you can easily feel that Tangerine Dream are trying to illustrate them, with their picturesque soundscapes. Jocelyn B. Smith from New York, who sings on Tyger, is put up front in the mix and the music seems to be almost secondary to the singing at times. As a contrast to the rest of the album, the last track, “21st Century Common Man,” is a very good piece of instrumental sequencer music, which can easily lead your mind on to something like J. S. Bach.
Tyger was, by the way, produced with the support of some Steinberg software on the Atari computer.
The album was released in June, and even though it sold rather well, the band had their bad predictions confirmed; many fans did not like the album very much, and a lot of critics almost killed off Tyger completely! Froese & co. did not let themselves become influence by that fact – as so often before, Edgar expressed that Tangerine Dream first of all made music for themselves! Well, it might have had some consequences after all because a tour was not arranged to follow the album release was usually the case with all the previous album releases…
In 1987, Tangerine Dream also recorded a track for “The 1987 International Summer Special Olympic Games”. It was written by Jon Lyons and was called, “A Time for Heroes.” Apart from Tangerine Dream’s instrumental version, it also exists in a version performed by Meat Loaf and Brian May!
Chris Franke, who had performed with Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream for more than 16 years, wanted to take a break from the routines of touring, album and soundtrack recordings. The work in the band had become too stressful, his private life was under pressure, and Franke simply needed a break from always having to be creative.
Froese: “We both felt it was time for us to move in different directions. It was a totally split. But I must say that Franke and I had always had a curious relationship. We didn’t have much to do with each other on a personal level. We worked together 17 years but, throughout all that time, we met privately on just one occasion!” (Melody Maker – 8 October 1994)
Franke: “In the beginning, there was never plan for me to leave Tangerine Dream. What we had was a plan for the whole band to do a long creative break to improve the whole system and organism known as Tangerine Dream. This included restoring my own organism mentally and physically…..The idea of a group break was pretty popular in Edgar’s mind. He was seriously considering it. But with so many business possibilities striking his office every day, he changed his mind at the last moment…So I started the break myself by just quietly backing off and not being much involved in the daily routine. Once I started, I became very much in love with my decision to take this brake. As a result I just started planning what I would do with it on my own…The ultimate decision about my departure came at the point when Edgar decided to tour again…”
“Now neither Edgar nor I have any regrets. It was a natural process. Everything was talked over and thought over. It was a grown-up decision. It was nothing out of the blue and definitely not like a fight…In our case, two organisms who are nine years of age apart just evolved and grew apart to seek their own separate futures. Edgar has found his future more and more. I have too. Edgar and I still see each other and help each other. I mean, it’s so very BORING because there was no spectacular event or a huge reason!” (Interview with Elana Mell Beach – Electronic Dreams/Dreams Word #14 & 15 – 1993)
Furthermore, the cooperation with their record company, Jive Records, was beginning to brake up so Tangerine Dream were also looking for a new label.
One last big concert and one more album were to be made, before Chris Franke left Tangerine Dream definitively in March 1987.
In 1987, Berlin was celebrating its 750-year anniversary as a city. It was marked by a lot of cultural activities in West Berlin. On 1st August, a big Rock Salute was arranged; it was a big open-air concert, where, among other bands, Tangerine Dream played before a quite impressive crowd of about 42,000 people. It was, however, very close to get cancelled; half an hour before Tangerine Dream were to go on stage, a very heavy rainstorm began and made the conditions quite chaotic both on and off stage. A lot of water on stage is not the best environment for a lot of electronic instruments and high voltage amplifiers, but the weather cleared up, and the concert was carried through.
The concert was broadcast on the radio, 22nd October the same year – after having been treated in one of Tangerine Dream’s recording studios of course.
This was to become Chris Franke´s last concert with his old band, before he began his extensive solo career – especially as a soundtrack composer. He has also created a new record label in the USA, Sonic Images, which has released a lot of productions from other artists and made some sample CD’s and he has also been a consultant for a computer system called WaveFrame/Audioframe.
A 27-minute long extract form this concert was released as one of two tracks on an album with the title, Livemiles, but lacking the rights to some of the music, which was played at the concert, Tangerine Dream had to do a lot of editing in the recordings.
The second track on Livemiles is a piece of a concert recorded in Albuquerque on 8th June while touring in America the year before, but this release is also heavily edited compared to the concert. Some of it is recorded at the sound check in the afternoon, some of it at the concert itself, and finally a little bit of it is from a later concert in New York. All these parts have been put together in the studio in order to make it appear as one whole piece.
The album made from this performance would also become Franke´s last release with the band. With Livemiles, Tangerine Dream had fulfilled their obligations with the record company, Jive, and for Chris Franke, it was a natural point in time to split up with Tangerine Dream.
The music on Livemiles was split into two very long pieces, but it was not the old improvised style, based on Franke´s sequencers. The music was rather a proclamation of the more pop-oriented style, which was beginning to emerge. The sampled drums, rhythm machines, and computers were allowed to dominate and it was a style that Tangerine Dream would adopt more and more in the following years.
As usual, the live album was well prepared and re-mixed in the studio after the recording had taken place. Later, Edgar Froese was asked about this by a fan in a radio interview on the program “Swingungen” (23/2 – 89); the fan had been at the concert in Berlin, but he could not recognise much of it on the album. Froese explained that due to legal obligations and contracts, it was not possible to release the whole concert. Some of the music had to be removed, and some of it had to be re-mixed beyond recognition.
As this remark suggests, there might have been some problems with the record company, but anyway, Livemiles was the last album that Tangerine Dream made for Jive Records.
“The visible creates work in form – the invisible defines its worth” (Lao Tse – Tao te King)
For a short while, Tangerine Dream was a duo without a record company, but a solution to this problem was soon to be found; Since Peter Baumann had left Tangerine Dream in 1977, he had, apart from his projects as a solo artist, started a new record label in the USA, which was first of all supposed to put out instrumental music. It was called Private Music and as the original idea of the label was compatible to what Tangerine Dreams had in mind, what would be more natural than old friends teaming up again on a professional level and accordingly, Tangerine Dream signed a contract with Private Music.
The first result of this new cooperation was Optical Race. It was recorded in April/May 1988, in Tangerine Dream’s studios in Berlin and Vienna. It was released in August by Private Music.
The music was of course composed and played by Edgar Froese and Paul Haslinger, but a single track was composed by a certain Ralf Wadephul. He was from Berlin, where he had been taking lessons to become “tonmeister” and made a living out of making music for small films and commercials. Ralph Wadephul also played keyboards in some smaller bands in Berlin. It was here that Edgar Froese got in touch with him and as Edgar liked his way of playing, contact was soon established:
Froese: “The Berlin keyboard scene is quite active, so finding him was easy. We are lucky that he worked on the same equipment that we do, and that he is on the same musical level that we are.” (Keyboard, November 1988)
This time, Optical Race was put together from ten short pieces and its character was somewhat mainstream – very melodic on a solid base of drum machines and sequencer rhythms still, however, unmistakably Tangerine-Dream-like. There are some very good tunes on Optical Race, but also some music that seems to lead to nowhere.
The music was produced on an Atari computer by the use of Steinberg software.
This time, Monique Froese had created a very elegant cover. It is a pictogram of a runner – in the same way as the pictures we all know from the world of sports. The title, Optical Race, refers to the growing degree of visualisation, which seems to fill up our modern society, and Edgar Froese often sees this as a kind of visual muzak.
With a new album, a new label, and a new man, Ralf Wadephul, on his way into the band, Tangerine Dream found the time to go on a major tour in the USA once again. This was the country, where Tangerine Dream had had their biggest successes through the years.
The tour began on 25th August in Chicago and ended in Vancouver on 28th September. 23 concerts were given throughout most of the USA and a small detour was taken to Canada, where Tangerine Dream played three concerts.
Lily on the Beach
“Lily got in from nowhere, stayed in the house for a lifetime and disappeared suddenly through the west window – Why couldn’t she go through the east? She didn’t know! Have a cop of coffee and relax” (Tangerine Dream)
The next release from Tangerine Dream was Lily on the Beach, which was in the shops in October 1989. Ralf Wadephul had left the band after only a year and again, Tangerine Dream were reduced to just being the Froese/Haslinger duo.
Lily on the Beach was made in the studios in Berlin and Vienna during July and August. It was composed on the computer sequencer program, Cubase. Cubase, which was among the first of its kind, has since developed into being some of the most used music software.
The two gentlemen, Froese and Haslinger were not alone on the recordings; Hubert Waldner plays the soprano sax and flute on one of the tracks, and Jerome Froese, Edgar’s son, was promoted from just being a model in the photographs to being allowed to play on one of his father’s albums. He plays a guitar solo on the track, “Radio City.”
The music is much more varied than on the previous album. Sometimes rather heavy and sometimes quite mellow in its expression. A lot more guitar was heard, which again was an instrument to be connected with Tangerine Dream, and the band had seriously discovered the use of the saxophone…
Lily on the Beach was not followed up by a tour, and Tangerine Dream did not give any concerts at all in 1989, but especially Paul Haslinger spent a lot of time (and money) on building and arranging Tangerine Dream’s new studio in Vienna, the Eastgate Studio.
“The Crows maintain, A single Crow could destroy Heaven, That is doubtless, but doesn’t move Heaven, for, Heaven implies precisely; Impossibility of Crows” (Franz Kafka)
Ever since Jerome Froese appeared, more or less hidden as a photographic motive on the first Tangerine Dream covers, he has presumable been fed with a lot of different musical inputs.
Of course, Jerome learned to master the keyboards, drums and guitar very quickly. As a teenager, he formed some traditional rock bands and was more inspired by the new wave and punk scene of the eighties than the kind of music that Tangerine Dream stand for, some of his all time favourite bands are the Cure and Van Halen!
In a radio interview, he once said that he found Tangerine Dream’s first albums both very interesting and meaningful, but he like their rock-orientated period around 1980 the most albums like Cyclone, Tangram and so on.
As Jerome Froese had learned the skills of making music, and of course had a big knowledge of what Tangerine Dream was all about, what could be more natural than him becoming a permanent member of the band?
Starting from Melrose, this family orchestra was then a reality. Father and son were playing and composing with their friends, while mother was photographing and designing covers…
Jerome´s first real move with Tangerine Dream was accordingly to be Melrose, which was recorded by Edgar Froese, Jerome Froese and Paul Haslinger in the summer of 1990.
Once again Hubert Waldner appeared as a guest musician on the title track, where he played the saxophone.
Melrose, which was released on Private Music in October the same year, contained much more mellow music than Lily on the Beach had done, but still, the usual rhythmical synth-pop/rock was typical for this period of time. Not many classic pieces – well, you might come to think of New Age, and Tangerine Dream have never wanted to be associated with New Age music…
The cover with the three bicycle riders in an American desert was this time photographed by Jim Rakete – a very highly recognised photographer in the business, who would also come to produce pictures for the covers up to this day. In the earlier days, Jim Rakete had also done some work for Peter Baumann´s solo work.
A music video was also produced in the desert, and some short excerpts from this video have appeared on Tangerine Dream’s two latest videos.
Another video was also made to promote the album and is said to have been shown on music television once. It is supposed to be some kind of western (?) and some stills are shown in the tour program from 1990.
Melrose was followed up by a brief tour in England from 25th October to 4th November 1990. The tour introduced Paul Griesbach on sax and flute and especially Linda Spa on saxophone, she would later become a more or less permanent member of Tangerine Dream.
“All that we see or seem is but a Dream within a Dream” (Edgar Allen Poe)
Paul Haslinger left the band in the spring of 1991 after spending five years with Edgar Froese. He now lives in the USA, where he – as apparently happens to be a tradition for ex-members of Tangerine Dream – is scoring a lot of soundtracks! Besides that, he has also been involved with the French ambient group, Lightwave. He was also working with Peter Baumann, but it never got down to recording. Paul Haslinger has also recorded some music in his own name put together in his own studio, The Assembly Room, and in 1996, he gave his first solo performance in the best Tangerine Dream tradition. This happened at the KLEM-festival in Holland in October – an event which I had the pleasure of watching.
Once again, Tangerine Dream were reduced to a duo and they had no contract with nor any obligations towards Private Music, so it was time to look for another record company.
Peter Baumann himself was also leaving this record label, which he played a major part create; he sold the biggest part of Private Music to BMG, which was their distributor. Shortly after that, he sold the rest and retired from the record company. Peter Baumann`s name still appears in the music business and sometimes he is producing albums with different artists.
Maybe due to legal reasons, the year 1991 turned out to be one of the very few years without any official studio albums or concerts.
Tangerine Dream were not put to rest though, but in the first months of 1992, a lot of time – and money – was used to renew their recording studios in Germany and Austria. The Cave in Berlin and the Eastgate in Vienna were thoroughly renovated and made up to date.
Apart from this, Edgar Froese, who is a very movie-interested person, was working on his own film project about the Dutch renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch. Froese was supposed to do both the pictures and the music himself, but now, at the time of writing, it has not yet been published and maybe the work is still in progress.
1991 was also the year when the official Tangerine Dream International Fan Club, which was run from the Tangerine Dream headquarters in Berlin, had to put an end to its activities due to commercial complications; someone was misusing the address lists of members for their own commercial activities.
As a last favour to the members of the fan club, Edgar and Jerome Froese recorded a 28-minute long CD single; Quinoa. It was sent to all members exclusively, and as it was supposed to be made in just 1,000 copies. It soon became a collector’s item, but mysteriously enough, a few hundred copies of this rare single suddenly appeared. They came from some secret Tangerine Dream hiding place, and was sold by the band through VoicePrint on the Internet.
In 1992, for a short period of time, Tangerine Dream returned to their old record company, Virgin, which released the album, Rockoon.
Rockoon contains music recorded both in the Eastgate Studio and the Cave. Apart from father and son on keyboards and guitars, a few guest musicians contributed; Richi Wester, Enrico Fernandez and Zlatko Perica on sax, Macubaha (?) and guitar, respectively.
The music was very rock orientated and rhythmical (read: guitars, basses & drums!) and maybe the closest thing Tangerine Dream have ever been to plain rock`n’roll. Especially the guitar (and Jerome!) had been given a lot of space on this album.
With Rockoon just out and a new record deal signed with Miramar, Tangerine Dream were once again ready to tour the USA. On this tour in the spring of 1992, apart from the Froese family, Tangerine Dream also featured Zlatko Perica on guitar and Linda Spa on sax. She is by the way a former model and music scholar from Vienna.
220 Volt Live
“The best rules are barely known to men. The next best rules are cherished and extolled. The lesser are feared, and the least are scorned. Distrust cannot summon trust. The sage acts without words and people take all for granted.” (Tao Tse Tao Teh King)
How Tangerine Dream sounded in the USA in 1992 can be heard on the live album – 220 Volt Live. It was released on their new label Miramar at the beginning of 1993.
It was not the first time the band had been involved with this American label though; back in 1987 Tangerine Dream made the music for a video film about the spectacular Grand Canyon. It was a part of a series of nature films, which Miramar was behind. The Tangerine Dream soundtrack was also released with the title Canyon Dreams, and both video and soundtrack were received very well – the video even got nominated for a Grammy Award.
Well, the music on 220 Volt Live is some of the most heavy music the band has ever put out on record. The guitar player, Zlatko Perica, plays a very prominent part and the rest of Tangerine Dream almost seems to be his backing group. One long part with guitar was followed by another and this was on a solid background of firm sequencers and drum beats.
Seen with the Tangerine Dream standard, one of the encores of the concerts was a very raw version of the old Jimi Hendrix piece, “Purple Haze,” which also appears on 220 Volt Live. It was the first time Tangerine Dream had put out music, they had not written themselves.
With the track, “Purple Haze,” they even got nominated for a Grammy Award in 1994 in the category of the best rock-instrumental. They did not, however, actually win this prestigious prize.
Even if Tangerine Dream hated to be labelled as a New Age band and firmly denied to be making that kind of music, there was so much focus on the band in the States, that they got nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of the best New Age album in all the years from 1992 to 1995. They also had a single nomination in the category of the best Long-form Video in 1994. They did not, however, take home any of these awards…
(Past, Present, Future)
At the same time as 220 Volt Live was released on CD, Tangerine Dream’s first official concert video was put out. The cover artwork is almost the same as on 220 Volt Live. The video was called, Three Phase and was apparently found worthy of a Grammy Award nomination, which it did not win though.
This video contains a lot of material from the tour in the USA, but it also contains cuts from earlier stages in their career as well as computer graphics and many private pictures recorded by the band members while touring around the world.
Everything is heavily manipulated and runs through different video effect machines. Sometimes it feels like the pictures or frames are moving a little bit too slow like a movie on a computer screen and that tends to get rather boring.
For some cuts, like on a live version of Phaedra, computer animation has been used entirely, which reminds you of something from a small PC program, which might be recognised by some people as the game called Dazzle.
All in all, it is a very good and varied video, which is different from most other rock videos released during these years.
A shame though, that only a fraction of the 50 minutes the video lasts, is from the earlier days. A pity, since there must be an enormous amount of pictures and film stowed away somewhere in the old archives good enough to be put out in their own right.
Hopefully some of the existing footage from the earlier years will be released some day.
Turn of the Tides
In 1993, Edgar Froese wrote the surrealistic story, “The Coachman’s Tale,” which is a story taking place in a fantasy universe similar to the world of Tolkien. A piece of this story was used as the literary basis for the next album, Turn of the Tides.
The four musicians from the tour in the USA started the recordings in Berlin and Vienna in the autumn of 1993, and at the beginning of 1994 the result was ready for released.
Turn of the Tides openes with yet another cover version, i.e. M. Ravel`s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky`s “Pictures of an Exhibition.” In Tangerine Dream’s version, it is arranged for horns – The Vienna Horn Ensemble – and trumpet, sax and keyboards. The music is used as the background for the sound of horses and a coach passing by (The Coachman?).
The rest of the album has a lot of variation and it moves through rather different styles – presented in the typical Tangerine Dream wrapping. Even if there is a lot of guitar on this album – especially a very nice Spanish guitar – the instrument is playing a more modest part in the picture of sound. On the other hand, Linda Spa’s sax has been given a lot more space.
“The Coachman’s Tale,” from which an extract is also printed on the cover seems to be a concept, which the titles seem to reflect, but to what extent the music fits the concept, Edgar Froese is the only one who knows the answer.
Later in the year, in October 1994, a very interesting and well-made compilation was released; a great 5-CD box with the title, Tangents, and apart from many hours of music, it contains a booklet with more than 50 pages of a very thorough Tangerine Dream biography, written by Mark Pendergast. It is not illustrated with photographs of the band, but with beautiful landscapes and computer graphics.
Edgar Froese had made a deal with Virgin about re-releasing some of the best music from the ten years on the English label. Those ten years must be seen as the peak of Tangerine Dream’s career.
Edgar Froese did all the re-mixing himself, and a part of the music was actually re-recorded. Other tracks had new synthesizer parts overdubbed, but all has been done very faithfully to the originals and the results are remarkably good.
On the technical level, nothing seems to have been spared, conditions have been optimal and the result is an excellent sound quality. And who else than the old Tangerine Dream members have the experience to do it? That is why it is Ralph Wadephul, who has transferred analogue tapes to digital tapes in his own studios, and Johannes Schmoelling, who has done the digital pre-mastering in his Riet Studio.
The first three CD’s contain excerpts from the 13 albums that Tangerine Dream managed to record on the Virgin label – from the great success album, Phaedra, to the last on the label, Hyperborea. The fourth CD contains music from the soundtracks of this period and the fifth CD contains some music that has never been released before.
Edgar Froese had to admit that it was a much bigger task than he had imagined initially, but the result is good and it has breathed new life into even more than 20-year old recordings.
For those who are not yet familiar with Tangerine Dream, this compilation is a very good place to start; the best music of a very good sound quality.
In the wake of Tangents, Virgin started the re-release of the original 13 Virgin albums in re-mastered CD versions which they called the “Definitive Edition.”A new digital mastering system – Sony’s Super Bit Mapping – was used to transfer the master tapes onto CD.
It was supposed to result in a radical improvement of the sound quality and it seemed to have worked on most albums, but not all. Apart from this, a lot of “strange” errors appear on the new covers: credit has been given to Peter Baumann for being one of the composers on Tangram, but when that album was recorded, he had already left the band!
Another good example: on the back of the definitive edition of Exit, it says Exit – Tangerine Dream Live, but it is absolutely not live!
From all of this, it is evident that Tangerine Dream themselves did not have a lot to do with this “Definitive Edition” project.
I the spring of 1996, it was to become a very popular sport among fans on the Internet to find these misspellings on the re-releases, which were called “Definitive Errors”…
Tyranny of Beauty
“Is my body something other than a swarming sea of living cells who revolve to a hereditary habit of millions of years, around one hidden essential point?” (Gustav Meyrink)
The Froese family were working on the next album from July to September 1994 at the Eastgate Studio in Vienna, and this album was to be called Tyranny of Beauty. Linda Spa was now more or less a member of the band, while Zlatko Perica`s guitar was exchanged with two guests musicians – Mark Hornby and Gerald Gradwool.
Mark Hornby: “I was really impressed with their studio actually and it was a really good environment down there. And Monique, Edgar’s wife, is really nice. She’d start the day off really well with a full cooked breakfast, and it’s really relaxed. It`s great!
“She’s (Linda Spa) a hard worker actually. We finished not particularly late, but we`d sort of be finishing at twelve every night and I´d be going to sleep to the electronic click of Linda Spa’s metronome somewhere distantly down the corridor.
“…It was an education working with Edgar, because he’s a perfectionist and he’s also prepared to try anything guitar wise. You can just verbalise certain things to him and he won’t say no to anything, he’ll just say “Let’s try it.” So it`s quite positive from that point of view.
“…It`s a really nice family atmosphere down there. They make you fell very welcome. Edgar took us out every night to all these restaurants he knows. A lot of people you work for, the studio closes at night and you get the tube home and that’s it. It`s very anonymous. Whereas Edgar looks after you. Obviously you’re staying at his place but he doesn’t have to do that.” (Voyager # 11/12 vol. 2 – 1995)
The album came out in March 1995, and was heavily promoted by Miramar, who among other things, opened a page on their Internet homepage where you could download some samples of the music and watch small videos of the band.
One of the highlights on Tyranny of Beauty was a new version of perhaps the ultimate piece of music from the hands of Tangerine Dream – the title track from the album, Stratosfear.
Once again, Froese`s sources of inspiration were revealed, as the last track on Tyranny of Beauty is a version of a classical piece of music. This time, a very soft version of the “Largo” from “Xerxes” – which was originally written by the baroque composer, Georg Friederich Händel. The arrangement was made by Edgar Froese and Linda Spa plays the melody part on alto sax. The keyboards are very discreet and blend in very imperceptionally with the real strings – maybe they are not present at all – if that is the case, this may be Tangerine Dream’s first unplugged and acoustic recording…
This time the cover was designed by a new Tangerine Dream company, Tadream Vision, in Berlin. The photographs on the inside of the cover were of course made by Mrs. Froese.
Another new Tangerine Dream company, Tadream Technologies, did the mastering of the CD using their own DQC SYSTEM.
The album was supposed to be followed up by a tour – at least to the USA. Some dates and venues were made public, but the tour was postponed, and finally cancelled.
Tangerine Dream did, however, appear once at a more or less public concert in the States that year. It was on 12th July in Los Angeles, where Edgar and Jerome Froese, Linda Spa and Gerald Gradwool appeared at a large fashion show. It was arranged by one of the leading fashion magazines in USA, Xsess Living magazine, and it is said to have been a very good and rather heavy concert.
The Dream Mixes
“This album is dedicated to the two ladies who followed and supported our strange and often explain-able curves in life and music with wisdom and patience. Very special thanks to Monica and Anja”
In April 1995, Edgar and Jerome Froese were working alone on a new project: Ambient/dance mixes of their own music.
Despite what you might expect from such a project, it is a remarkably well-made album, where the music gets a much more raw, rhythmic and free form. You can easily recognise many of the typical elements and clichés from the modern dance music on the album, but they are used faithfully to the Tangerine Dream sound. A matter of taste, but maybe The Dream Mixes has got more vigour than many of the recent releases.
It has the real added sound effects, sampled exotic sounds and vocals. All the time, something new happens in the soundscape and many analogue-sounding keyboards help give the album a lot of variation.
Six of the tracks are re-mixes of titles from the previous three studio releases, and maybe they are more refreshing than the originals. The last four tracks are new and they lean very much towards the dance/techno style, which, Tangerine Dream obviously wanted to become associated with on this album.
The Dream Mixes, which was apparently put out in some sort of co-operation between Miramar and Virgin, was massively promoted in other places than the usual Tangerine Dream circles: It is no doubt meant for an audience you would normally find on the techno/ambient/dance scene.
The cover is also very atypical for a Tangerine Dream release, and is more in the style of a lot of the pop art, which decorates (?) CDs with dance music; a computer-made young girl – looking like someone from a ballroom in the fifties is dancing around in a psychedelic spot on a screaming yellow background. A cover, which has the character of planned coincidence.
At the beginning of 1996, another version of The Dream Mixes was released: this time, a double-CD with the same title containing more re-mixes and a new cover. The first of this double pack is identical with the original, but on the second album, The Club Dream Mixes, you find re-mixes of the re-mixes (!) and two completely new tracks.
This double CD is also the first music to be released on Tangerine Dream’s own label – TDI Music International. Over the years Edgar Froese has had a lot of very harsh comments about the music business and his connections with record labels have absolutely not been very stable! So in 1996 TDI was launched primarily in order to release and promote Tangerine Dream’s own music and gain full control over all means of production.
Later, the Dream Mixes project was followed by a video with the same title. This video came out in the middle of 1997 and is just a long music video mostly with excerpts from the bands tours and travels around the globe.
From May to July 1996, Tangerine Dream were working in their Eastgate Studio in Vienna on recordings for the next album, Goblins Club. The idea for this album was conceived by Edgar Froese on a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Los Angeles:
Edgar Froese; “On this peaceful and spiritual air-plane flight, which followed the twilight all the way over the Atlantic, I was thinking about the people down on Earth and about how nobody seems to behave with humanity and charity. Maybe they behave more like goblins (monsters) and the Earth is their cave” (Kavan Press release – 1996).
Some of the music – the track “Towards the Evening Star” – was composed on this very same flight by Edgar and Jerome on portable computers at an altitude of about 10 km.
The music was not as hard and techno-like as the previous Dream Mixes, but was rather a return to the more mellow style on Turn of the Tides. Linda Spa and various other guest musicians appeared on the album together with the Vienna Boys Choir.
This time the photographs for the cover was once again taken by Jim Rakete – as well as the picture below from one of the many beautiful café’s in Vienna.
At the release of Goblins Club, a promotion video was also put out, which I have had the pleasure of watching. Edgar Froese has produced a short video for the piece “Towards the Evening Star”; a handful of dancers moving closely in front of the camera in a computer-animated landscape. Well, nothing else happens…
The same track was, by the way, re-mixed by one of the most popular ambient/techno-bands; the English duo, The Orb who were the first to borrow some original master tapes from Tangerine Dream in 1996, and were allowed make a re-mix. The result; a version of “Towards the Evening Star” came out in early 1997. Tangerine Dream were not very happy with this album, and for a good reason; it is almost impossible to recognise any music from the original, so you could ask why bother to do a re-mix and why not do something new instead?
1996 also saw the Olympic Games and a lot of music were played at the Games in Atlanta. Some of it made by the big names in electronic music – and also by Tangerine Dream, who were represented by some of their older music from albums like Poland and Le Parc.
The same year – exactly at midnight on 15th October – Tangerine Dream opened their official homepage on the Internet, and since then it has developed into becoming one of the nicest and most informative homepages in cyberspace from a band. A visit here is absolutely worthwhile.
Shepherd’s Bush Live 1996
The 30th November 1996, was the first opportunity in 6 years to see Tangerine Dream live in Europe. The band had just signed a record deal with Castle Communication and to promote their first release – Goblins Club – on their new label, a concert was arranged at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire Theatre in London.
Among fans, it turned out to be an international event, and fans came from all over the world. Some Danish friends and I took a few days off and left for London on a plane.
Well, how was it then to witness your first Tangerine Dream concert when you have followed the band´s career very closely for more than 20 years?
First of all, I have to say that it all took place in a very positive atmosphere – and that means both before the concert itself and afterwards. On the Internet, fans had arranged to meet before the show in a small pub near the Shepherd’s Bush Theatre. At the pub, everybody talked excitedly about our common interest, addresses were exchanged and so on.
At the entrance to the Shepherd’s Bush Theatre, there was according to tradition – a lot of different merchandise for sale, and among other things, you could buy Limited Edition CDs; for this one off concert, Tangerine Dream had released a CD in 2,000 numbered copies with the title Shepherd’s Bush. It was supposed to be sold at the concert exclusively, but it has since appeared elsewhere. The CD contains two tracks, and the first one is surprisingly enough a cover version of the classic Lennon & McCartney tune “Eleanor Rigby”! The second track, “Thief Yang and the Tangram Seal” is a very upbeat remake of pieces from Tangram and Thief.
The audience at the concert, almost 2.000 people, from very different age groups seemed to represent a broad span of people and not just the ordinary young rock-concert audience – found their seats and a little past eight o’clock, the big black curtain, which had hidden the stage until then, fell down and the concert began.
All of the first set was a mixture of older pieces mixed together with new bridges to form one long piece. The music was mostly from the eighties, but one of the highlights was a version of the classic Stratosfear in a version, which can also be found on Tyranny of Beauty with the title, “Stratosfear 1995.” This set was accompanied by a traditional light and laser show.
The second part of the show started out with a piano solo by Edgar Froese. He played/improvised through well-known Tangerine Dream themes, and later Linda Spa took over the piano and continued in a more classical style. The rest of the second set was mostly music from the recent albums in a very “Dream Mixes-like” style and very rhythmical. There was a lot of room for Linda Spa’s sax and the two guitar players, Mark Hornby and Gerald Gradwohl. Behind the musicians, film excerpts and animated computer graphics were shown on a big screen. Some of the excerpts were from the recent video – The Video Dream Mixes.
Another highlight at the concert was – judging from by the audience’s cheers – one of Edgar Froese´s classic guitar solos in the first encore, “Hamlet.”
The concert ended with yet two encores, which were “Thief Yang and the Tangram Seal” and “Eleanor Rigby” – both from the CD single, Shepherd’s Bush. Then Edgar Froese picked up a microphone, thanked the audience for coming and he then expressed his gratitude to John Peel; “Without John Peel, Tangerine Dream’s long lasting adventure in electronic music would have been impossible.”
After the concert, some of us had a chance to talk to the band. Then we went back to the hotel on the other side of London and had a few hours of sleep before leaving on an early plane back to Denmark.
For those who did not have the opportunity to go to London, there was supposed to be a direct transmission – both sound and moving pictures – on the Internet, but due to technical difficulties, the project didn’t work out as planned. The concert was nevertheless recorded, and a few days later, it was possible to hear a re-transmission via Real Audio – the sound quality, however, was not exactly Hi-Fi…
The concert at Shepherd’s Bush Theatre was to be the last one for Linda Spa as a member of Tangerine Dream, and the band (Edgar & Jerome that is!) proclaimed that in future, they would work with different musicians and guests from project to project instead of a regular band.
Tangerine Dream Tour 1997
Europe Tour – Hamburg 15th April
A few months later, in the spring of 1997, a new – and to many people throughout Europe – a long awaited opportunity arose to go to a Tangerine Dream concert in Europe. After a premiere in Vienna on 9th April, Tangerine Dream went on a long tour on the European continent and for the first time since 1981, they also toured through Germany.
Since the one-off concert in London the year before, Tangerine Dream had made some changes; Linda Spa, who had more or less been a regular member of the band, had left. Instead, two guest musicians were invited to join the band on the tour – the guitar player, Zlatko Perica, who had also been part of the latest tour in the USA and the percussionist, Emil Hachfeld, who had been studying music in Berlin.
Hachfeld played on a special set of drums build up around some Codo-drums, developed by Tangerine Dream themselves. The four musicians did not have any opportunities to rehearse together sufficiently so the tour was first of all prepared from a rehearsal tape made by Edgar and Jerome.
Tangerine Dream played in Hamburg on 15th April at the “Musikhalle,” which is an old theatre or concert hall of the same kind as Shepherd’s Bush. It was the closest to Denmark Tangerine Dream would come on this tour, so of course, we Danes rented a bus and went down there.
The audience found their seats while listening to strange sounds coming from the speakers; the sound of a jungle was mixed with classical music and pieces of new and old Tangerine Dream music and sound effects like running trains and things like that. This “pre-concert music” has later been released with the title, Ambient Monkeys.
The music was more or less the same as at Shepherd’s Bush in London, but with a few new things added. Some of the music from the soundtrack, Oasis, was played and of course there were new arrangements for guitar and drums instead of the sax.
The first set was again a vintage part with older music put together to form a 70-minute long piece and the second set had, like the second set at Shepherd’s Bush, mostly recent music in “Dream Mixes-like” arrangements – also put together to form one long piece. The first set was accompanied by a traditional, but nice, laser and light show, and in the second set, a film was continuously running on a big screen behind the band. The excerpts were mainly from the videos, Oasis and The Video Dream Mixes, but also computer-animated graphics were shown.
Both Zlatko and Hachfeld did a great job and they added the element of live-music to the concert – in contrast to the two Froese gentlemen who sat motionless behind their stacks of keyboards; with the use of keyboards, sequencers, synthesisers and other electronic instruments it can be very difficult to see who is playing what – if anything at all – and that tends to get a little boring at times.
Especially the drum solo that Emil Hachfeld started out with in the second set was very much appreciated according to the cheers from the crowd, but also Zlatko`s brilliant guitar playing throughout the concert helped make it a very good experience altogether.
The concert ended with a few encores and the last one was the Hendrix cover “Purple Haze”. Zlatko Perica was showing off. He is truly a great guitar player…
On Friday 18th April, the Tangerine Dream tour had reached Neu-Isenburg near Frankfurt, and this time, the concert was successfully transmitted over the Internet. The music could be heard live via Real Audio – of a very telephone-like sound quality, but this system will hopefully get better with time – and once in a while, a still picture was sent live from a camera at the concert.
All of the second set was recorded at a concert in Zabrze in Poland on 23rd April 1997. It was released on a CD with the title, Tournado even before Tangerine Dream had ended their tour! Tournado was to be the first live-release from the band without any major treatment of the original material. It was meant to sound exactly as it had sounded that evening in Poland, and that means no overdubs and things like that.
To many fans regrets only the second set was released and not the first “vintage” set that had been so very well received by the audience throughout the tour. As so many times before it might have something to do with a copyright issue; The music in the “vintage” set had originally been recorded on several different record labels and it would have been a hard job getting permission to put those tracks out together on the same CD.
Anyway, the music of the vintage set eventually got on CD the following year recorded on the second leg of the tour in England.
Valentine Wheels and much more TDI
In the autumn of 1997 they resumed their touring with 7 dates in England starting in Bristol on Wednesday 29th of October and ended in London, 6th of November. The tour went on like the previous tour in Germany almost the same music was played but they managed to record the vintage set at the Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre in London and released it in 1998 on the TDI label as Valentine Wheels.
Valentine Wheels was not the very first TDI release, but since the TDI label really hit the streets in 1998 as a real record company, Tangerine Dream have released a lot of material on their own label; new music, compilations, soundtracks and re-releases. You can find all the titles in the discography or you can find more information about them on the TDI homepage, but some of the special releases are worth mentioning:
Dream Dice: The biggest collection of Tangerine Dream music ever put out in one bunch. It was put out to promote the start of the company and as a way of presenting the first 12 CDs issued by the TDI label. It contained 12 CDs and a bonus CD with three tracks never before released. The CDs were; Ambient Monkeys, Atlantic Bridges, Atlantic Walls, Dream Encores, Dream Mixes One (DCD), Time Square – Dream Mixes Two, The Hollywood Years Vol. One and Vol. Two, Oasis, Quinoa, Tournado, Transsiberia and the bonus CD.
Luminous Vision: Tangerine Dream issued the soundtrack for a computer-animated movie made by the Japanese video artist Yoichiro Kawaguchi. Since there was not actually any new music on the CD, it was only released in a package along with the video.
Topping Out Ceremony: On 2nd of September 1998 the grand Japanese multimedia company, Sony held a Topping Out Ceremony at their new center at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. The top of the Sony company was invited to this event besides a few other of the most important business partners. Tangerine Dream, Edgar and Jerome Froese that is, performed a very short concert (18 minutes) accompanied by dancers from the “Komische Oper.” The music was then given to the attendants on a CD as a memento of the event, but there are no plans to release the music officially.
Taken from the Cyclic Defrost website comes this Ewan Burke review (March 20, 2007) of Krautrock legend (and former Tangerine Dream and Kluster member) Conrad Schnitzler’s album Conviction (released on the Ricochet Dream label)…
Conrad Schnitzler is a bona-fide krautrock legend. Born in Dusseldorf in 1937, he went on to study sculpture with Joseph Beuys in the 1960’s, helped to form the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in Berlin, and in 1969 played on Tangerine Dream’s epochal debut album Electronic Meditation. He then went on to form Kluster with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. They made two LP’s together – Klopfzeichen and Zwei Osterei (both 1971) – before Schnitzler left, and Kluster became Cluster. Schnitzler’s first solo release was Schwarz in 1972, and since then he’s barely let up from a hefty release schedule (his catalogue runs to over fifty albums.)
And so to Conviction, Schnitzler’s first for the Stateside Ricochet Dream label. The digipak cover shows a bleak scene of a steam-belching locomotive moving through a snow-covered landscape, and the eighteen track titles – ‘Eerie Station’, ‘Across the DDR’, ‘Close by Berlin’ etc. – mostly refer to an imaginary journey from the the former East to West Germany. However, despite eighteen tracks being listed on the cover, this is really just one hour-long track which doesn’t vary hugely from beginning to end. Schnitzler’s signature sound of rhythmic electronics chugs away throughout – there are no drum sounds and no basslines at all, yet the music is intensely rhythmic due to the percussive sounds and repetitive sequences employed.
It’s tempting to compare this album to Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express – but whereas Kraftwerk’s train journey seemed rather quaint and charming – passing by the “parks, hotels and palaces” of ‘Europe Endless’ – Schnitzler’s journey takes place in an endless night illumined by flourescent arc lights, moving through soulless conurbations and blasted, ravaged countryside (like the Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker.)
At times there are echoes of Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream, but this music is colder, and less programmatic. Conrad Schnitzler is not an artist who seeks to draw you into his world – you have to make the effort to go to him. Is it worth it? I’d have to say yes. There is something undeniably hypnotic and deeply pleasing about his endlessly coiling, spiralling, morphing sequences and gloomy, industrial ambience.
This CD has been released in a limited edition of 300, so be quick if you want one.
Written by someone named stereomachine, this was written for the Head Heritage/Unsung website (to which I have contributed pieces over the years), Feb. 5, 2005. Link to this site is in the blogroll section…
The first Tangerine Dream album, called Electronic Meditation did not contain any synthesizer, which makes it an anomaly in the band’s catalog, who’s made reputation by using all the cutting edge synth technology in past three or four decades. Rather, it was a jam session made by a psychedelic rock band interested in improvisation and unusual unconventional sound experimentation, which was marred by being a bit too unfocused. The line-up consisted of, besides guitarist Edgar Froese, multi-instrumentalist Conrad Schnitzler and drummer Klaus Schulze, both of whom became solo artists using mainly electronics, just as would Tangerine Dream subsequently. After Electronic Meditation, changes would come: exit Shnitzler and Schulze, enter Christopher Franke and Steve Schroyder, the latter being an organist who was however kicked out of the band after recording the second album, the former being a multi-talented young 17-year old drummer also having interest in the works of Stockhausen and Ligeti, and who had acquired a VCS-3 synthesizer. Not only did the line-up change drastically, but the music was about to change as well. Exit (most of the) rock influences, enter synthesizer experimentation and space themes.
Recorded in January 1971, this album consists of three pieces. Original Side 1 had two shorter songs, which were one foot stuck in the original Pink Floyd-ish psychedelic space rock influences, and other foot stepping to the furthest reaches of unworldly cosmos in its avant-garde electronics, whereas side 2 would embrace the latter paradigm fully. “Sunrise in the Third System” opens up with delicate plucking of a harp-like instrument which gives way for church like organ playing a meandering pseudo-classical chord progression in the minor A key, which resembles the final part of Pink Floyd’s “A Saucerful Of Secrets” with Edgar Froese’s eerie ghost-like moaning glissando guitar taking the centre-stage in the composition. This 4-minute track also sets the whole mood for the album; dark, desolate, “abandon-all-hope” type of gloom and sense of tragedy mixed with far out trippy spaciousness.
Coming next is 13-minute “Fly and Collision of Comas Sola”, which appears to be the most structured composition on the album, opening with trippy violent pulsating VCS3 signals, then followed by fading in of another chord progression in minor A, played on guitar this time around, which forms as a backdrop for more medieval organ melodies and also melancholic flute improvisations, played by guest Udo Dennebourg. Space signals from VCS3 synths (there are two VCS3′s played on the album, one by Chris Franke and the second by another guest, Roland Paulyck) return at the middle of the track and they start burying out all the music played by natural instruments, and just when you think it’s all going to hell, Chris Franke comes in at the 8:30 mark to save the situation and finally provides us the much-needed drum work. Needless to say, it appears that Franke’s drumming abilities proved to be quite underused and under-rated, and he also gave up his drum set by mid-70s, but on here, Franke starts with quiet tom-driven improvisational patterns that suggest typical psychedelic rock motifs, but as his drumming goes louder (and meanwhile, flute returns to the scene as one of the dominant instruments again), it develops into a crashing jazz-inspired drum-solo that would put most generic drum solo muso-ism to shame; a violent energetic free-form fluency that sounds the craziest drum bashing this side of Robert Wyatt, and is truly an equivalent of planets and meteorites crashing into one another and truly a part of the over-all cosmic sound, rather than plain wanky show-off theatre, as most drum solos tend to be.
Finally, the title track of Alpha Centauri, 22-minute improvisational proto-ambient epic to take up the whole original Side 2, and also one of the first side-long cuts, which paves way for everything from their next album Zeit to all their famous lengthy epics like the title track on Phaedra. With rock drums dispensed, and the famous Moog sequencers also still waiting for their exploitation in the later TD era, “AC” has no conventional rhythm to speak of, it’s a large abstract sound sculpture, mixing natural instruments like the opening clanging cymbal washes, improvised flutes and occasional experimental guitar sounds with reverberated droning organs, pulsating synthesizer freak-outs and sine wave generators, and even coffee-machines (as Froese is credited with playing one, but you couldn’t tell). Whole tune builds rather slowly, instruments moan, drone, instead of fast rhythms, the listener is treated to alternation between meditative relaxing sound washes and unsettling eerie shrieks. Beautiful, fragile flute solos that represent the worldlier and more ‘normal’ aspects of the sounds are standing out against the cosmic unworldly forces embodied by dark organs and synthesizers and occasional experimental gliss guitar drones. It is hard to write this kind of music off as boring self-indulgent ambient, this composition has a rather dark and scary, even tragedy-like sense of doom to it, which might come across as a soundtrack to the Judgement Day, and the said otherworldly apocalyptic implications are further helped by the final four minutes when the tune finally settles for another cluster of eerie organ chords, with guest Udo Dennebourg reciting a spoken-word text in German that perfectly seems to fit the over-all concept of God in mono-theistic religions, and the wordless choir-like moaning vocals might suggest either lamenting angels or souls being tormented in Hell, you decide. Except that the ironic thing is, it all sounds so chaotic and improvised that it comes across as stoned-out meandering psychedelic lunacy. But the tone, which closes the 22 minute title track and the whole album, is dark, haunting and dirge-like all the same and the improvisation deprives nothing from the sense of tragedy so present on the entire album.
Alpha Centauri is considered as the “first electronic space album,” and it’s hard-pressed to find any other preceding album that in such grandiouse manner would suggest a lengthy and dramatic exploration of other-wordliness that also implies how most of us are mere mortals who are sometimes, while listening to more upbeat music, too ignorant of the terrifying, but huge forces of the universe which are completely independent of our whims. Tangerine Dream would go on to attempt topping such achievement on their next album Zeit, which, while indeed darker and even more desolate than its predecessor, is ultimately marred by its reduntant ambitiousness and even less focus than found on the title track of Alpha Centauri; and then make their electronic space-rock style more palatable for the whole world with masterpieces like Phaedra, but Alpha Centauri is still one of the most unique works in their lengthy catalog.
Written by The Seth Man for the Head Heritage / Unsung website – from June 21, 2000. I hope he doesn’t mind me printing this here…
In 1981, I believed this to be the trippiest album I had heard in my life. I came to this conclusion after I traded in a pile of second rate space rock like Oxygene, Video Magic and all the solo Vangelis I owned, plumping the proceeds towards the then-recently released T-Dream 70-80 box set. It included nothing off Electronic Meditation, and side one was a quick sampler of Alpha Centauri, Zeit and Atem too brief to give me any real impressions of their formidable qualities at the time, unfortunately. But side two included the first and last tracks off Phaedra, and they were so out there, I immediately scored the entire album soon afterwards. This was Tangerine Dream’s first release on Virgin, and it heralded the beginning of their shift in musical direction, a scenario played out over and over again by almost all progressive bands of the seventies. As time began to slip closer and closer to the eighties, newer keyboard and recording technologies would see these same bands (all of whom had previously lumbered through earlier LPs with freakstorms of mellotron, organ and early VCS3 synthesizers) tone down entirely, change to overt pop or zip through the stratosphere on their battery of “improved” equipment that altogether changed the sound and feeling of their keyboard-based into wimped-out luxury Yamaha, Roland or birotron hurdy-gurdy doldrums. But Phaedra was the only place where the presence of sequencing synthesizers were used in harmony with the mellotrons and previous keyboards that created space-outs as lush and epic as some of their later Ohr pieces. It did begin a trend where T-Dream’s sequencer use would become so relied on that by the late-seventies, Trouser Press’ satirical “Believe It Or Don’t!” column featured a report of the world’s longest concert: the one where Tangerine Dream forgot to unplug their sequencer weeks after a concert!
Phaedra features an Edgar Froese blue and grey painting on the cover, and it captures the overall mood of this synthesizer and mellotron-dominated album: mysterious and diffusive. And the gatefold features ten further Froese psychedelic, light show blob paintings, one of them a disturbing photograph of his then young son, Jerome, drowning in a sea of maroon and blue ectoplasm. The title track is a group composition, taking up side one in its entirety as pulsating and diffusive synthesizers emerge. Then, their brand new sequencer starts up all rigid and echoed as crystal synthesizer patches pass by, twinkling like stars. Soon, only the sequencer remains and mutates into the dominating role as mellotrons waft in and out. Then a three-way mellotron/Moog/sequencer cross talk builds then falls away, leaving Froese playing a repeating surf guitar riff to nowhere as the sequencer returns, picking up speed and pinning you to an undetermined axis in space. Plenty of synthesizer tunnelvision ensues, all trancey and dominated by the unswerving sequencing. As it funnels into inner space, low, low moog chords rumble as lightly touched, reverberated synths dance with further electronics. VCS3 frills and modulated sizzle-Moog appear, and the sequencer labyrinth becomes higher pitched and slowly speeds up, followed by more knob-twiddling sizzling and it’s quickly becoming a dance on the edge of a precipice …on and on until it dissolves into a galaxy of atomic particles and all is “aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.” All that is left is a desolate universe of unearthly caws in the echoed distance, looming closer and closer until the majesty and power of Froese’s mellotron creates a hymnal at the beginning of the universe, a wonderously huge choral that is accompanied by echoed, singly hit chords that operate more like marimbas. The ending sequence is a mellotron-dominated swell-out depicting a deserted beachscape of power, beauty and neglected hope. Then a final coda of mellotrons draw the curtain…until a delayed resurfacing where schoolchildren can be heard playing on a sunny day through the opposite side of a puddle. The classical Greek myth of Phaedra, daughter of Minos, dying by her own hand after her love was rejected by her stepson, Hippolytus, was one of pure tragedy. But leave it to T-Dream to wind up stressing a hopeful end, by the slight return of the schoolchildren voices, perhaps representing her two surviving sons. Side two is broken into three pieces: “Mysterious Semblance At the Strand of Nightmares”, “Movements of A Visionary” and “Sequent C’”. “Mysterious” is just that: all massed mellotron storm clouds with VCS3 knob-twiddling in a place where the only rhythms are amplified sequencers or carbonated synth-fizzing. The opening goes on until it even slips into a phrase from the opening track of “Clockwork Orange”, all swelling and phase-shifted beyond all reasonable-ness. Perfect. “Movements of A Visionary” is full of synthesizer exercises evocative of crabs scuttling across a huge ocean bed, whorls of sand and sea dust kicked up by the shuddering electro-vibe. “Sequent C’” is the finale, wistful but not entirely sad, and winds up diffusing itself into eternity in the fade. And yet, something even stranger underlies all of second side–it was accidentally mastered backwards.
The Seth Man
Part 2 of this German documentary of TD playing live in the studio. Narrated in German.
Be sure to check out part 1 on my site…(see below)
Documentary on German TV from 1980 – TD playing in the studio. Narrated in German.
This is part 1 of the video – part 2 to come soon…
This short clip is taken from before Tangerine Dream’s first album. Very spacy…