Tag: Edgar Froese

In Search Of Hades: The Legacy of TANGERINE DREAM

TANGERINE DREAM were formed during the Autumn of 1967 by Lithuanian artist Edgar Froese, a lover of Surrealism, sculpture and THE ROLLING STONES.

Based in Berlin, Froese became disillusioned by the rock scene at the time, took the band name from a lyric by THE BEATLES and set about forging a musical project which had sonic experimentation at its very core.

With a fluctuating line-up which at its conception included respected synthesist Klaus Schulze, the band finally started to gain recognition and commercial success in 1975 with the now acknowledged ‘classic’ line-up of Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann.

Following the passing of Froese in 2015 and with their founder’s wishes, TANGERINE DREAM continue with a line-up that still exists today of Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Yoshiko Yamane. TANGERINE DREAM are rightly acknowledged as one of the pioneers of electronic music and the body of work they produced (including the Froese / Franke / Baumann era) has had a huge influence on many musicians to follow.

‘In Search Of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973-1979’ covers this imperial phase in TANGERINE DREAM’s timeline, featuring a 16CD + 2 Blu Ray set including a lavish vinyl sized booklet and newly remastered versions of the albums ‘Phaedra’, ‘Rubycon’, ‘Ricochet’, ‘Stratosfear’, ‘Encore’, ‘Cyclone’ and ‘Force Majeure’.

The remastering has been done by Steven Wilson from the available first generation master tapes, but what is most interesting for fans of the bands is the inclusion of a host of previously unreleased material including album out-takes, three London concerts and the full 75 minute soundtrack to the Chichester stage play ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’.

Although much of the band’s rarer material has been well served with the ‘Tangerine Tree’ / ‘Tangerine Leaves’ band-sanctioned bootleg series, a quality set such as this has been long overdue.

The title of TANGERINE DREAM’s 1970 debut album ‘Electronic Meditation’ is a bit of a misnomer in that the work itself featured no actual synthesizers, but utilised organs, tapes and found sounds including a backwards playback of Froese reading from a ferry ticket. ‘Electronic Meditation’ was free-form and experimental in its nature as were the band’s next three albums; ‘Alpha Centauri’, ‘Zeit’ and ‘Atem’.

Primarily eschewing melody for experimentation and atmosphere, it was common for the band have tracks that took up the whole side of an album and this approach continued until 1981 when TANGERINE DREAM started to focus on shorter, more concise pieces. At the heart of the band’s sound was a willingness to experiment with new equipment to the point where music technology manufacturers (including Wolfgang Palm’s PPG) would customize equipment specifically for the band for it to meet their needs.

It was however with their signing to Richard Branson’s fledgling Virgin label and 1974’s ‘Phaedra’ that the band had their major breakthrough commercially. The album itself was a stellar jump musically and was one of the first to feature the sequencer patterns that would go onto to define TANGERINE DREAM’s sound.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Although largely ignored in their own country, the album went on to sell well in the UK, charting at number 15 mainly through word of mouth.

Pivotal to the band was the band’s album cover art, a trademark being the featuring of Froese’s son Jerome either on the front or within the gatefold of the design; most of TANGERINE DREAM’s iconic covers were created by Monique Froese and they help to beautifully encapsulate the music held within.

1975’s ‘Rubycon’ was a close sister to ‘Phaedra’ and could be seen as a refinement of its predecessor with the Mellotron atmospherics and hypnotic sequencer runs all present and correct. Listening back to the work retrospectively now, ‘Rubycon Part One’ still sounds absolutely stunning; after a short two minute intro (which teases the listener that it’s a return to the band’s experimental roots), the track opens up into a beautifully melodic ambient section with electronic birdsong and lush synth pads. The piece then transitions into a sequencer section that was latterly sampled by Alan Wilder’s RECOIL project and went on to secure TANGERINE DREAM’s highest chart placement to date by hitting number 10 in the UK.

The follow-up ‘Ricochet’ differed from the albums that preceded it, in that it was partially comprised of live recordings made at Croydon Fairfield Hall, but with additional studio sections added, including the live piano and Mellotron part that opens ‘Part Two’.

‘Part Two’ remains a breathtaking piece of work with the stunning contrast between the pastoral piano introduction and the interlocking sequencer part that follows. If there is a progression in sound it is the advancing complexity of the band’s Moog sequencer work; whereas ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’ featured single lines, ‘Ricochet’ starts to up the ante with multi-layered ones and sets the template for what is now referred to as the ‘Berlin School’ of sequencing.

The album that kept the band occupied between ‘Ricochet’ and ‘Stratosfear’ in 1976 was equally important in securing the band’s reputation and also getting them further work in a different field. ‘Sorcerer’ was a film eventually released in 1977 by ‘The Exorcist’ director William Friedkin and saw the band diversify into mainstream soundtrack work.

Friedkin was an early innovator of using electronic music acts as soundtrack sources and with ‘Sorcerer’, he took the risky approach of getting the band to write their music for the film from looking at the script rather than giving them rushes to work with.

The impact of this approach also meant that the director could play the music on set for the actors and crew to help influence their art and Friedkin even edited much of the footage to fit the music rather than the opposite way around. Although ‘Sorcerer’ wasn’t a huge box office success (and lost a considerable amount of money due to its spiralling budget), it has since been critically re-evaluated and its electronic score certainly puts it ahead of its time when many films of the period would typically be soundtracked orchestrally.

Friedkin has since been quoted as saying that had he discovered TANGERINE DREAM sooner, he would have used the band to soundtrack ‘The Exorcist’, which is now inextricably linked with MIKE OLDFIELD’s ‘Tubular Bells’ instead. It is a shame that ‘Sorcerer’ is not present in the new box set, especially as the poor audio quality of the original vinyl pressings of the soundtrack don’t really do the work proper justice.

Released in 1976, ‘Stratosfear’ saw a departure for TANGERINE DREAM; rather than having side-long 20 minute pieces, a more concise approach was used with 8-10 minute tracks being constructed instead.

An early mix from PINK FLOYD’s Nick Mason was abandoned due to disagreements between the band and Virgin Records.

Although miles away from what could be considered a ‘chart friendly’ hit, the title track would centre around a musical theme that could almost be considered “catchy”! ‘Stratosfear’ has since become a live staple for the new line-up for the band and features on their current tour.

‘Encore’ was touted as TANGERINE DREAM’s first live album ‘proper’; supposedly recorded during the band’s North American 1977 Spring tour, the truth of the matter was far different. In Wouter Bessels’ sleeve notes for the boxset, he refers to the album as a “jigsaw”, with the four long tracks featuring “bits and pieces of recordings mainly made at soundchecks and pre-tour rehearsals in Berlin”. The only track that was truly live was the version of ‘Monolight’, an edited version of a performance captured at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington DC.

‘Encore’ set the precedent for the band in the “is it live or isn’t it?” stakes with the most infamous being the 1988 ‘Live Miles’ album which when compared with a bootleg recording of the Albuquerque concert (that it was meant to represent), showed that it featured no actual music from the show itself! It is interesting to ponder why the band actually did this, were they dissatisfied with the recordings of the performances?

Surely it was inevitable that this ‘deception’ would eventually catch up with them with the huge amount of bootlegs out there in the public domain. These quibbles aside, ‘Encore’ provides a fitting enough tribute to the end of the Froese / Franke / Baumann era and is certainly entertaining from the perspective of hearing of several over-excited Yanks “whooping” during the band’s sequencer passages. However, 1978’s ‘Cyclone’ went to prove to be one of the most polarising albums in TANGERINE DREAM’s back catalogue.

Former member Steve Joliffe was asked to rejoin the band by Froese to contribute vocals and flute to ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ and ‘Rising Runner Missed By Endless Sender’. If anything, these additions were a retrograde step for the band, with much of ‘Cyclone’ appearing to align itself with other progressive rock acts of the day.

The lengthy ‘Madrigal Meridian’ which formed the whole of the second side was arguably more representative of where the band was heading, but the addition of vocals wasn’t to be repeated until the William Blake influenced 1987 album ‘Tyger’.

Although rather “hey nonny, nonny” and ‘Blackadder’-ish in places, Jolliffe’s vocals on ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ do actually work and ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does have a soft spot for ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’, its brassy synth melodies and sequencer driven middle section go together to create an excellent audio triptych which bears up to repeated listens.

The follow up to ‘Cyclone’, ‘Force Majeure’ saw a return to pure instrumentals for the band with the blissed out Balearic acoustic guitar based intro for ‘Cloudburst Flight’ and the stunning extended sequencer passage on ‘Thru Metamorphic Rocks’ providing the album highlights. The latter proved so successful that its elements were recycled and ended up on the Michael Mann directed motion picture ‘Thief’ as ‘Igneous’. ‘Cyclone’ drew this era to a close and on the near horizon was the joining of Johannes Schmoelling who would go onto have a huge impact on the band and help redefine their sound for the next six years or so.

For purchasers of the box set, the main attractions are the remastering, the previously unreleased material and Blu Ray content. Long-term fans of the band who open the box will likely gravitate to ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’ first; a set of tracks composed for Keith Michell’s adaptation of a work which was performed on 18th August 1974 at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

‘Oedipus Tyrannus’ has been mixed by Steven Wilson from the original multitracks and is sonically stunning, certainly nothing like a 1974 rarity which had been buried in an archive would be expected to sound like.

The opening couple of tracks ‘Overture’ and ‘Act 1’ revert back to the band’s earlier experimental pre-’Phaedra’ sound, but are nonetheless entrancing all the same. Where the set really finds its feet is in ‘Act 2: Battle’; after opening with white noise based percussion, the piece eventually breaks into one of TANGERINE DREAM’s trademark sequencer workouts which ebbs and flows for the remaining ten minutes before ending on a short Mellotron flute coda. ‘Act 3’ is undoubtedly the centrepiece here and gives much of ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’ a run for their money in terms of sheer innovation and quality.

Another bubbling sequencer line takes centre-stage and the audio quality of Wilson’s mix makes ‘Act 3’ sound like it was recorded yesterday and not 45 years ago. Wilson’s usage of panning and reverb sensitively update the band’s sound and it is clear that the mix was done with the utmost respect to TANGERINE DREAM’s roots and original sonic template. There is also a 5.1 surround version of ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’ on one of the two Blu Rays in the box set.

Photo by Michael Putland / Getty Images

The Blu Ray content also includes Steven Wilson’s excellent 5.1 mixes of ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Ricochet’ as well as the Coventry Cathedral concert (which still unfortunately has the overdubbed ‘Ricochet’ soundtrack on it rather than the original concert recording).

There is however some consolation in that the original Coventry Cathedral piece is present on the ‘Stratosfear’ disc within the box set.

Listening back retrospectively to the actual recording of this concert makes it easier to try and comprehend why the film maker Tony Palmer deemed it necessary to try and overdub the footage that he had; the first 25 minutes of the segment featured is uncompromisingly bleak. But the decision to shoehorn these two elements together has continued to raise the hackles of TD fans for several years now, especially as the film footage is beautifully captured.

Tony Palmer pops up again on another of the Blu Ray’s extras, the 1976 German documentary ‘Signale Aus Der Schwäbischen Straße’; this is a fascinating archive piece including contributions from Monique Froese, Richard Branson (misnamed here as ‘Richard Barnes [!]’) and an interview face-off with the band. A rather awkward looking John Peel and journalist (who is only referred to as ‘Miles’) watch as the band fend off a selection of increasingly antagonising questions by Tony Palmer. A finger wagging Froese becomes visibly annoyed by the end, especially with Palmer’s assertion that much of TD’s music is too highbrow and a working class audience just wouldn’t “get it”!

The documentary also features some of the best close quarter footage of the band’s equipment and live performance from this era. The most prescient point in the whole documentary occurs when the journalist ‘Miles’ makes the point that one day, “synthesizers will be able to play chords… that mass production of those synthesizers will open up a new field and will eventually be as affordable as electric guitars”. And when this happens “English groups will be able to make more electronic music as well!” The film ends with Froese in disguise, pointing at the band’s reel-to-reel tape recorder and comically questioning whether they actually play live or not…

Also of interest are the three live sets from the era, one from their debut UK performance at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park in 1974, one from a gig at Victoria Palace and a recording of the band’s Royal Albert Hall concert from April 1975. All of these recordings are above average in quality considering their age and appear to be unaltered snapshots of the three live sets.

What is incredible about these recordings is the band’s desire never to repeat themselves, which meant that a live gig ‘rehearsal’ would usually entail a short discussion minutes beforehand along the lines of “Let’s start in E and then go up to a major third to G and then end on A”. The fact that the band was also fighting the unreliability of much of their equipment (Moog oscillators were notorious for going out of tune when temperatures fluctuated), meant that what they were doing was technically a hyper-pure form of Jazz… but instead of using upright bass, drums and piano, they were using new and unreliable electronics instead.

Although the music remastering and track selection has been done extremely well here, there are some points of controversy. Several inaccuracies feature in the lavish booklet (which takes up half of the package), this includes incorrect dates, photos which have been wrongly attributed and typographical errors. The most verbal beef has come from Jerome Froese who feels that his mother Monique has been airbrushed out of the project (although she is mentioned in the booklet, but only gets a single mention for her artwork in the rundown of credits at the front of the booklet).

Fortunately, there are vinyl album size reproductions of her iconic sleeves within the package, which put the new ones created for ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’, ‘Royal Albert Hall’, ‘Victoria Palace’ and ‘Live At The Rainbow’ totally to shame.

These gripes aside, ‘In Search of Hades’ is a fitting audio tribute to the early years of TANGERINE DREAM, Steven Wilson has done a fantastic job with his remastering / remixing of the material and the next question for many fans of the band will be “if” and “when” a Johannes Schmoelling-era box set will be released?

Without question there remains only two true titans of electronic music, KRAFTWERK and TANGERINE DREAM, both German and both fortunate enough to be able to afford the best electronic equipment available. Most importantly they were able (in their own differing ways) to use those resources to create an incredible early body of work which would set the template to influence countless artists afterwards.


In memory of Edgar Froese 1944 – 2015

‘In Search Of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973-1979’ is released as a 16 CD + 2 Blu Ray boxed set by UMC

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https://twitter.com/QTangerineDream


Text by Paul Boddy with thanks to Andy King and Wouter Bessels
24th June 2019

JEROME FROESE Interview

For fans of electronic music, the surname Froese really needs little or no introduction and Edgar’s son Jerome has forged a musical career which has seen him partnering his father in TANGERINE DREAM between 1990-2006 before pursuing a solo project resulting in four of his own albums.

Following this came a teaming up with ex-TD member Johannes Schmoelling and Robert Waters as LOOM. On the near horizon is the much-anticipated collaborative work with PROPAGANDA’s Claudia Brücken called ‘Beginn’.

Jerome kindly took time out to talk about subjects including his musical upbringing, his exposure to cutting edge electronic equipment and the contentious subject of the continuation of TANGERINE DREAM without Edgar’s involvement.

To those that know your background, your musical upbringing might seem obvious, but could you describe how you got into music and some of your early experiences?

At first I was lucky enough to be brought up within a totally strange cultural environment! This was a concern to my parents as well as to the other band members and their circle of friends. Therefore almost all of their artistic activities were geared towards leaving well-beaten paths for entering an entirely new area of sounds and a completely different way of using instruments or things which hardly could be described as instruments.

Ever since I can remember, I was a fan of soundscapes and Sci-Fi technology; so naturally I was very keen to play with all kinds of items which looked or sounded like that. That’s why in the early 70s, an EMS VCS3 synthesizer may have been used by the baby of the family for other than its intended purpose!

Due to the fact that TANGERINE DREAM always wanted to be cutting-edge in terms of equipment, there was a lot of discarded stuff stored in a loft above our office in Berlin.

I’m remembering countless big units of Mellotron audio tape cartridges and many other curiosities which have filled the room to the brim for a certain time. Nevertheless, all the newest tech could always be seen at Chris Franke’s huge studio which was located in an old cinema and was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for any ‘electronic’ musician!

Once there, you were able to find prototypes of synth and computer legends like the PPG Wave, Oberheim or the E-mu Emulator as well as the first Apple Macintosh or just some strange custom-built stuff.

Chris was a real tech freak, putting his hands on any gadget which was accessible or could be game-changing in some kind of way.

Edgar was more pragmatic equipment-wise, selling his unneeded stuff after some time. Some years ago he told me that he only regrets the disposal of his Memory Moog and Oberheim 4 Voice. But I’m going off on tangents…

Were you surprised when you were asked to become part of TANGERINE DREAM?

No, because I slipped into it.

Do you feel that you joined TD at a high or low point in its overall history?

You must never forget that it’s a matter of common knowledge that things went down after Chris Franke left 😉

Well, all right, joking apart. Due to the effect that equipment got smaller, cheaper and all at once widely used by many more artists at that time, it was also much more demanding to be in contrast with the electronic music scene. The days where TD could comfortably run ahead were over and the only choice was to look forward, change tack and create something else, which still is the sound for a certain attitude towards life.

With regard to soundtracks, another strategy was necessary as well because TD’s trademark pioneering film music from the late 70s to mid-80s became undertaken and copied by many local session musicians working at a lower budget and being available 24/7. “Can you please make a score which sounds like TANGERINE DREAM?” suddenly became a common phrase in Hollywood and manys the time we’ve heard that said!

After joining TD in early 1990, I found myself right in the middle of a rebuilding process with lots of ambitions for another approach to the whole musical concept of the band. I won’t judge in public if this was a high or low point of TD, but six-digit sales of most 90s albums confirmed to us that there were still listeners out there.

Your growing up was anything but normal, what were the best and worst parts about having a touring / recording musician as a father?

That cannot be described easily. Certainly one of the best parts was that he encouraged me and others in making music with an abundance of patience and devotion. Edgar was really good in seeing and teasing skills out of people and when he was in a good mood it was always a pleasure to have him around but he could also be very possessive.

Your mother Monique created the wonderful sleeve designs for all of the early TD releases, how does it feel looking back at these and seeing your younger self featured in them?

Actually, it was my dad’s idea to put me on the album covers. Then, most people didn’t know what this was all about and because of my long hair, more than a few were asking: “Who is that little girl appearing on the covers!?”

Only once (for Edgar’s second solo album ‘Epsilon In Malaysian Pale’ in 1975) did my parents arrange some kind of photo session with me for the inner sleeve.

After all, Richard Branson from Virgin liked that picture so much that he used it for the album’s press campaign and he also hung the poster in his personal office.

You are quoted in a previous interview that you were unhappy about the adding of saxophone and live percussion within the group. What was it about this move that you disagreed with?

That’s not totally true. I really like drums and percussion and I think that they were placed very well in most of TD’s history. Especially in 1997 when our studio technician had the vision to build a custom made electric percussion set called Codotronics.

A huge set-up, that was based on MIDI-triggered microphones which were controlled by several sampling units.

Emil Hachfeld, the percussionist who played the whole thing, was an outstanding and charismatic musician who was able to set the house on fire. Unfortunately, he died of an asthma attack in 2000 and it became clear that for his replacement he was a really hard act to follow.

Saxophone is another story because I mostly don’t like the sound of this instrument unless you really mess with it. When using a saxophone within instrumental music, you are quickly finding yourself on a razor’s edge ride to muzak and I fear that some 90s TD tunes sounded a bit like that.

What factors influenced you into calling it a day with TANGERINE DREAM?

You know, being and working in a family business is a very special affair.

Quite often you’re not in complete agreement with each other, but on the surface there is always some sort of clannishness.

Unfortunately, our ‘blood is thicker than water’ concept completely turned upside down when my mother passed away in 2000 because she always managed to be some sort of an ombudsman within the family.

And that is how it came that some persons took their chance to enter our private and band life with an ambitious intention to blow up all family ties without a qualm.

It was clear from the outset that this wouldn’t go well, so I left TD in late 2006 after 16 years and never had any regrets about my decision.

When it became apparent that TD were going to continue without the involvement of your father, what were your initial feelings about this?

As years go by, Edgar was asking me several times whether I would be interested in continuing with ‘TD’ at some date. Because I know that he would have wanted to ensure that the band will go on within the family. He was therefore rather disappointed when I refused his offer. I did so, out of respect for what he had built up over years. I mean it’s a fact that one day the last light fades away.

I can understand, that people do have persisting manners of sticking to old habits. This applies especially when one is getting older, when memories and fond habits take a fixed place in daily life. But here I feel to say that Edgar has never authorised or selected anybody to continue with TD without him in any shape or form nor gave consent to access his tapes or hard drives.

I really had lots of private ‘father-son’ conversations with Edgar until his death and he precisely told me that he wanted to take things somewhat easier and gradually withdraw from the everyday running of the band from 2017 onwards. Many of the fans knew he already wasn’t in good shape any more. Originally, my aim was to protect his heritage from egotism and avarice from third parties but then everything turned out differently.

As for statements by the current regime and their subjects, I would only say that they have the right to talk such nonsense as they do, since talking rubbish is a human right as well.

If Peter Baumann had changed his mind and decided to rejoin, would this have changed your overall stance on TD still existing as a viable project?

No.

What made you setup your own record label Moonpop?

Back in 1998, we started TDI Music which was our first own label. At that time a huge part of our song catalogue was expiring from record companies and publishers, so we immediately took the chance to re-release all that music in our own way. After a short period of time we were pleasantly surprised about the possibility to open up new vistas. Having this in mind, I was encouraged to set-up another label for my solo projects, that’s all.

Which of your solo albums are you most proud of and why?

I think this still has to be my debut album ‘Neptunes’ from 2005. Just because of the intense use of my favourite instrument, the guitar.

During the recordings I was finally able to work out a lot of tricks, sounds and atmos which I’ve created for a while. Shortly after I had the idea to call it ‘Guitartronica’ because my main goal was to develop a guitar sound differently from expectations.

Electronic / synthetic musical instruments and musicians have evolved incredibly over the last 40 years, but there seems to be a lack of development in innovative guitar technology (or guitarists willing to take risks), why do you think this is?

I wouldn’t put it that way. There are many artists out there, creating great music while combining guitar sounds with weird or classic effects, synths and other stuff. It’s just that they aren’t omnipresent. For example: In 2006 I got an album from a band called HAMMOCK because we were label mates in the USA at that time and I really liked their spacey and dreamy guitars embedded in wide effect layers with the addition of colourful voices. Meanwhile they are a well-known name and just did parts of the score for Ubisoft’s ‘Far Cry 5’ game and they didn’t have to change their typical sound for that.

In comparison, synthetic musical instruments have evolved incredibly over the last 40 years but where are we now?

So many companies are re-releasing their old stuff in cheap or over-expensive boutique versions and tons of modular systems are congesting the market once again, hoping for a secondary breakthrough.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like this kind of resurgence, especially in regard to better usability and capability and needless to say that I also like to hit step sequencing pads or modulating sounds on a tablet and so on.

But due to my family situation, it’s just that I grew up with having a finger on the pulse of the time when this kind of gear has popped up for the first time, so I’m not going mental on new technology anymore! Nowadays, I only use what’s really suitable for my needs and that is much less than some might think. I mean for guitarists, a campfire is already half the battle 😉

Taking a cursory look at your studio, you seem less obsessed with modular / analogue gear than many producers who create electronic music, is there a particular reason for that?

I’m a sound aficionado and if I do like what I hear I’m not judging about its origin. Digital, analogue, fictional, bulldog … I don’t care. I think it’s much more important where to put the sound in terms of room, modulation and its presence within a composition.

Talking to producers who are philosophising for hours and hours about their monophonic analogue basslines like a horny dog isn’t really my thing!

I believe your studio and record label are based on two separate floors of an office block, when you go to compose / produce, does this not make it feel you are clocking into work?

No way, I really like to have all my needs at one place.

You’ve been Grammy nominated in the past, which musical achievement are you most proud of?

To take advantage of keeping my artistic integrity after all these years. Awards are nice but not important.

What is the situation with LOOM at present?

Calm. Unfortunately, the work on the second studio album has come to a standstill in 2017, so I kept my focus on other projects which were not all musically related. Basically LOOM was intended to be a line-up for live shows in the first place and maybe we’ll reduce it to that in the future.

On your website, there is information about the other LOOM guys Johannes and Robert working with Moya Brennan from CLANNAD, will this collaboration see a release?

I guess so, but not under the LOOM brand as previously announced.

You have been working with Claudia Brücken in the studio on the upcoming album ‘Beginn’, what can we expect from that collaboration?

Well I know that expectations are always high, but do not wait for a PROPAGANDA-like album with TANGERINE DREAM influences! For years I always fancied recording an album were I could merge my own sound with vocals and corresponding lyrics.

When Claudia and I met back in 2014, I played her some early demos of eligible songs which she liked very much and so the whole project was about to begin(n). Quickly we both recognized that we were on very good terms with each other, which made this collaboration very joyful and instructive as well. While in production we better and better localised the direction and style where the music should go to.

Anyway, after the first sessions here in Berlin, Paul Humphreys gave us the opportunity to use his London based studio for the final voice recordings while he was touring with OMD in the US for a couple of weeks. And to be honest, his studio was much better equipped for vocal takes than my place. After returning to Berlin, I entered a very intensive period of detail work on the album which lasted for quite a while. In the end it took a bit of time, but Claudia and myself are very happy with result and are now waiting eagerly until its release.

There’s a couple of FLEETWOOD MAC covers on the vinyl edition of the album, this is very intriguing!

Yeah! In the early stages of the production Claudia asked me about my opinion regarding the recording of some cover versions and I noticed that she is an admirer of Stevie Nicks as I am. Then I told her that TANGERINE DREAM were in contention for producing Mrs Nicks 1989 album ‘The Other Side Of The Mirror’ and that we’ve met her in L.A. around that time.

And so it happened that we both were digging out our FLEETWOOD MAC faves which were ‘Sara’ (Claudia) and ‘Gypsy’ (Me). The only condition was to give these compositions a bit of our own trademark. While ‘Gypsy’ is a bit more upbeat, we managed to create an almost ambient version of ‘Sara’.

If you weren’t a successful musician is there any other career that you would aspire to?

Maybe a pilot or at least to have a job at an airport to live out my wanderlust!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Jerome Froese

The album ‘Beginn’ with Claudia Brücken is released by Cherry Red Records on 15th June 2018 in CD, digital and limited edition double vinyl LP, pre-order the latter from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/brucken-froese-beginn-limited-edition-gatefold-sleeve-2lp-vinyl/

http://www.jeromefroese.com

https://www.facebook.com/jeromefroese

https://twitter.com/jeromefroese

https://jeromefroese.bandcamp.com


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
Photos © Jerome Froese Archive
9th May 2018

TANGERINE DREAM Live at Union Chapel

With the passing of founder member Edgar Froese and new members Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane now fully established, the new look TANGERINE DREAM is now an entirely different beast to the one which played its last London show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire back in 2014.

The fact that tonight’s show was sold out and the following one was close to capacity showed that there was a huge weight of expectation with these two long-awaited London dates at Union Chapel. For those familiar with the beginnings of the band, having a church as a venue harked back to TANGERINE DREAM’s early gigs, many of which took place in cathedrals.

This was referred to when Froese’s widow Bianca Froese-Aquaye introduced the band. She talked about the band’s now-infamous Reims cathedral gig in France where TD fans left the venue in such an appalling state that it resulted in the band being barred by the Pope from playing any more Catholic venues. She jokingly mentioned that she hoped that wouldn’t happen tonight…

The band opened with a version of ‘Monolight’ from the 1977 album ‘Encore’ and wasted no time in settling into the trademark interlocked sequencer parts that TANGERINE DREAM are now rightly famous for.

The stage set-up was Thorsten Quaeschning on the left with an enviable mixture of kit (including a Moog Voyager, Manikin Schrittmacher Sequencers and Memotron), Ulrich Schnauss on the right on additional synths / sequencer  and centrally positioned on violin and Ableton duties Hoshiko Yamane. ‘Betrayal’ from the 1977 ‘Sorcerer’ soundtrack followed and it was obvious that the band weren’t going to be afraid to dip into their quite considerable back catalogue of 150+ albums and counting!

‘Kiew Mission’ was up next from the ‘Exit’ album and the welcome inclusion of ‘Dolphin Dance’ from ‘Underwater Sunlight’ added in some welcome percussive elements with a beefed-up drum pattern upping the energy level of the gig.

One of the criticisms made of the previous London gig was that the visual elements on the projection backdrop were akin to a dodgy Windows 95 screensaver, thankfully those on show tonight were much improved and provided a stronger visual accompaniment to the music along with some dramatic shafts of lights which illuminated the wonderfully ornate Union Chapel venue.

Newer material in the form of the awkwardly titled ‘It Is Time To Leave When Everyone’s Dancing’ and ‘Roll The Seven Twice’ (with its ‘Age Of Love’-style trancey sequencer part) were also represented, but the biggest reception was firstly reserved for ‘White Eagle’. Started with ethereal/filtered pads by Schnauss on his Roland JD-XA, the track’s haunting sequencer pattern and TR808 style percussion gave way to the haunting melody line counterpointed by Yamane’s violin work.

‘Stratosfear’ sounded absolutely immense, still possessing one of THE iconic synth melodies, this version did the original version total justice and a wonderful ‘edited highlights’ version of the twenty minute plus ‘Horizon’ from the live ‘Poland’ album followed. What impressed about the ‘Horizon’ version was that the wonderful rolling Chris Franke bass sequence was kept intact and cut through the PA system superbly.

To climax the evening the band performed what is now come to be known as a ‘session’; an improvised piece in the spirit of TANGERINE DREAM’s early gigs. Although a bit meandering in places, it was hard not to be transfixed watching electronic music being created pretty much on the fly in an era when it is far too easy to rely on backing tracks and let your computer do all the work for you!

It is really heartbreaking that Froese is not around to see how his band has evolved so much in such a short time, the impact of Schnauss joining can’t be underestimated too. He appears to have a really strong understanding and sensitivity towards TANGERINE DREAM’s back catalogue and being a self-confessed fan before joining, has helped mould and shape (alongside Quaeschning and Yamane) a setlist which plays to the band’s strengths whilst not being afraid to subtly update certain elements.

The main criticisms that would be levelled at tonight’s show are that Quaeschning’s guitar was virtually inaudible during most of the gig and Yamane still feels woefully under-utilised; she is obviously a really gifted musician and even for her sake, it would be great if she could be given more involvement in the set.

Tonight’s show was a fitting tribute to Edgar Froese, there will still be those that argue that “this isn’t Tangerine Dream without him!”, but it was his wish that the act continued on and the line-up now is plainly not just trading on past glories.

The band are creating new material which is arguably the best that has been produced in years and the return of the ‘sessions’ based improvising is helping to reclaim some of the ground lost when the band featured sax and live percussion, which to many felt at odds with the original TANGERINE DREAM ethos.

Hopefully the rapturous reception that they received tonight will prompt a full-on UK tour as this is a show which demands to be seen and has comfortably shown that the band is still a force (majeure) to be reckoned with…


‘Quantum Gate’ is released in CD, double vinyl LP and download formats by KScope

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Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
27th April 2018

A Beginner’s Guide To TANGERINE DREAM

If any artist is deserving of a Beginner’s Guide, then it’s Berlin’s finest TANGERINE DREAM.

With a back catalogue spanning over a hundred albums (and that’s not including compilations), without some guidance it would be a pretty daunting task knowing where to start.

Picking a wrong entry point could quite easily put one off from delving further and in TD’s case… this would be a shame as their electronic musical journey (which looked like it had sadly ended in January this year with the passing of founder member Edgar Froese) has so many classic tracks which have gone on to influence future artists.

Founded by Froese in 1967, the band metamorphosised, both musically and personnel-wise, throughout their career.

The band’s early genesis featured lengthy kosmische and experimental musical workouts which were characterised by droning organ and Mellotron textures.

Championed in the UK by John Peel, this period of the band is often referred to as ‘The Pink Years’ because of the pink ear featured on the Ohr label the albums were released on.

The adoption of the Moog sequencer in the early 70s by the band and subsequent championing of it by member Christopher Franke, plus the purchase of state of the art modular synthesizers helped transform the band’s sound from its early experimental and uncommercial nature.

The newer evolving material, although hardly radio-friendly, was more melodic, electronic and musical enough to catch the ear of Richard Branson, who would go on to sign the band to his fledgling Virgin label and start off ‘The Virgin Years’. Featuring Froese, Franke and Peter Baumann, the first of the ‘classic’ TD line-ups produced albums like ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’ which defined the ‘Berlin School’ sound of hypnotic, sequencer-driven electronic music.

Baumann was later replaced by Johannes Schmoelling in December 1979 and was partly responsible for the band’s shift to an even more melodic phase which also saw them diversifying further into film soundtrack production.

It started a run of live and studio albums which have been cited as some of the strongest of their career. ‘The Blue Years’ phase eventually saw the departure of Schmoelling in 1985 with Paul Haslinger replacing him.

With the advances in synthesizer technology, the ‘Blue Years’ heralded a more digital and latterly New-Age-style sound for the band, eventually getting them signed to Jive Electro which released the live ‘Poland’ album, a double LP recorded behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in sub-zero temperatures.

Even more line-up changes followed after Schmoelling left in Decmber 1985; at one point Edgar’s son Jerome joined the band, but with the integration of live saxophone, flute and percussion, TANGERINE DREAM drifted away from its more pure electronic roots and lost much of its fanbase along the way. The addition of respected synthesist Ulrich Schnauss at the end of 2014 promised a long awaited electronic renaissance.

But the unexpected passing of Froese meant that this line-up was tantalisingly short-lived. With only a handful of Australian dates last November showcasing an updated version of the band’s ‘Sorcerer’ soundtrack with this stripped down line-up, it provided a fleeting glimpse of what was slated to be the ‘Quantum Years’. In a surprise announcement on 6th April 2015, Edgar’s widow Bianca Acquaye announced that TANGERINE DREAM would continue with Schnauss, Thorsten Quaeschning and Hoshiko Yamane.

This Beginner’s Guide showcases both TANGERINE DREAM tracks and ones which feature ex-members.

A couple of the tracks featured in the guide are live ones, although anything in the TD back catalogue which is categorised as such should be approached with caution as their live albums were often not really live at all.

Often comprising of concert parts interspliced with studio recordings or overdubs, the most infamous being the ‘Albuquerque, Mexico’ segment of the ‘LiveMiles’ album which was promoted as being a live recording; but a subsequent comparison with a fan’s bootleg revealed that the 30 minute track actually featured nothing that was actually played at the show!

The article aims to focus on the more commercial and melodic phases of the band’s career and strives to give an entry point into one of the electronic genre’s most prolific and important artists. Those that wish to delve further could either research forward or backwards in time with an act that, alongside artists such as JEAN-MICHEL JARRE and VANGELIS, has gone onto provide some of the most influential instrumental electronic music of all time.


TANGERINE DREAM Ricochet Part Two (1975)

Picking a track from TD’s mid 70s ‘purple patch’ is pretty difficult as there are plenty of seminal pieces to choose from, but the B-side of the Virgin live album release ‘Ricochet’ is certainly a landmark piece of electronica. ‘Ricochet Part Two’ (which was mainly sourced from a recording at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls), starts off with a beautiful and pastoral descending Edgar Froese piano figure before being joined by layers of Mellotron flute.

Then a teasing / repeating end section dies away to a hypnotic echoed sequencer part which still sounds incredible today, mainly down to the contrast with the opening of the piece. The intro is reprised later in the piece and the sound of the album signposted how purely electronic and more rhythmic the band would later become.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Ricochet’ via Virgin Records


TANGERINE DREAM Bent Cold Sidewalk (1978)

Of all the albums in TD’s back catalogue, ‘Cyclone’ alongside the latter ‘Tyger’ is generally considered the most Marmite by the band’s followers. This is down to the presence of vocals on both albums. The former work featured vocalist / flautist Steve Jolliffe alongside drummer Klaus Krieger who were drafted in following the departure of Peter Baumann. ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ contains many typical TANGERINE DREAM elements.

But the vocals, although effective in places, have the overall effect of dating the track to a time when Progressive Rock loomed large. The opening and closing sections of the song are pretty striking, lots of synthetic brass, rolling drum fills and Jolliffe’s surreal lyrical meanderings which although at times come a little too close to Blackadder’s Baldrick singing “See the little goblin…”. The middle section of the track which follows a more typical sequencer workout recalls Italian horror soundtrack specialists GOBLIN and could have easily been featured on the George Romero zombie classic ‘Dawn of the Dead’.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Cyclone’ via Virgin Records


TANGERINE DREAM Cloudburst Flight (1979)

Quite possibly the track which launched several TV holiday theme tunes, ‘Cloudburst Flight’ from ‘Force Majeure’ starts with a blissed out 12 string guitar part which instantly transports you to a sun-drenched beach somewhere (obviously not too many of those in Berlin!) – a simple pulsing 8 beat bass sequencer and cross-panned electronic percussion ramps up the energy level before a descending bassline and chordal synth provide the main theme to the piece.

A squealing Minimoog solo comes in next before the track winds down to a more sedate conclusion. It’s seven minutes length is certainly a lot more concise than many TD tracks from this era and there are also hints of PINK FLOYD too, elements of the track were re-worked for the track ‘Guido The Pimp’ from the ‘Risky Business’ soundtrack.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Force Majeure’ via Virgin Records


EDGAR FROESE Stuntman (1979)

Outside of TANGERINE DREAM, Froese was prolific as a solo artist too, releasing 8 albums including ‘Stuntman’ whose title track was released as a single on the Virgin label. His solo work is insightful in assessing his contributions to his ‘normal day job’ and gives a feel for the musical and compositional elements that Froese brought to TD. ‘Stuntman’ was an ultra-concise and direct track in comparison to much of his band’s work and the nearest to a Jarre style ‘anthemic’ synth piece.

Totally drum-less, but relying on an LFO filtered bassline to carry the piece, ‘Stuntman’ is wonderfully melodic with its Minimoog lead lines and underpinning Solina string textures making this a perfect entry point into Froese’s solo excursions.

Available on the EDGAR FROESE album ‘Stuntman’ via Virgin Records


TANGERINE DREAM Tangram Set One (1980)

Those familiar with much of TD’s earlier work wouldn’t be surprised with an album which featured only two tracks, but what makes ‘Tangram Set One’ interesting is that rather than being a lengthy and repetitive piece, it comes across as 7 shorter compositions linked almost in a minimix format. Side one of the album really showcases Johannes Schmoelling’s arrival with the band, the track moving through different phases, slow-building sequences at the start.

It truly lifts off at 3’27’ where several melodic driving sequencers converge in a quite stunning moment. The track quickly moves on through a quirky military-style break, a 6/8 part (complete with trademark Froese guitar solo) and then into a melodic Yamaha CP80 piano-based section before a percussive white noise-driven breakdown section, which surely went on to influence DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Oberkorn (It’s a Small Town)’, leads the album into an uplifting polysynth-led conclusion.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Tangram’ via Virgin Records


PETER BAUMANN Strangers in the Night (1983)

Peter Baumann left the band a couple of times, but in 1977 the split was to become permanent. An initial TD sounding / KRAFTWERK influenced solo album ‘Romance ’76’ was released while he still featured in the line-up and this was followed by ‘Trans-harmonic Nights’. This sonically / synthetically helped set the musical template for the first DEPECHE MODE and YAZOO albums with shorter more minimal synth tracks, but ultimately lacking the vocals which would eventually give both of those bands stellar success.

The next stage was an unexpected curveball, with Baumann trying to re-invent himself into a synthpop artist taking cues from Bowie, Numan and Foxx, although critically lacking the vocal talents to match his undeniably skilled synthesizer work. Baumann’s cover of ‘Strangers in the Night’ is a complete re-invention of the Frank Sinatra song to the point that the lyrics remain the only thing in common with the original. The synth work, production and accompanying promo video really timestamp the track, but musically, this version has aged pretty well, with all the sounds forming a template for much of today’s electronic pop.

Available on the PETER BAUMANN album ‘Strangers In The Night’ via Arista Records

Available on the PETER BAUMANN album ‘Strangers In The Night’ via Arista Records


TANGERINE DREAM Hyperborea (1983)

‘Hyperborea’ is an unusual album in the TANGERINE DREAM canon, as despite featuring the classic Froese / Franke / Schmoelling line-up, it doesn’t really sound like anything the act had produced previously. It was almost as if the band decided to throw out the rule book and this resulted in an album which had diverse, almost world-music influences in places. Even though the trademark driving sequencers were still present and correct, the patterns were somehow different…

The title track is the undeniable centrepiece of the album, a glorious two movement, pulse-slowing piece which mainly revolves around a simple descending rich resonant bass and a syncopated gated chordal synth part. A sparse kick and snare pattern ticks away in the background whilst musically the piece perfectly matches the album artwork of a giant glacier. According to Greek mythology, Hyperboreans were mythical people who lived in the far north where the sun shined for 24 hours a day, possibly suggesting an area in the Arctic Circle.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Hyperborea’ via Virgin Records


TANGERINE DREAM Love On A Real Train (1983)

The track which helped sealed TD’s Hollywood film soundtrack credentials is undeniably ‘Love On A Real Train’. Soundtracking Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay’s passionate (and let’s face it, softcore porn-ish) encounter in ‘Risky Business’, it is hard to imagine dance acts like CHICANE and BT sounding the same without the influence that this piece surely had on them. The track itself is beautifully textured, with subtle layers of electric piano, breathy pads and an iconic descending sequencer part.

Subtle shakers and percussion help generate the travelling momentum of the piece while a cyclical bass mixes with the Steve Reich ‘Music for 18 Musicians’ – influenced sequencer elements. In what turned out to be the band’s final album for Virgin, the soundtrack itself actually only featured 15 minutes worth of TD music, the rest comprising of MOR acts such as JOURNEY, PHIL COLLINS and BOB SEGER.

Available on the ‘Risky Business’ OST (V/A) via Virgin Records


TANGERINE DREAM Warsaw In The Sun (1984)

If any criticism could be laid at a lot of mid-period TD work, it would be that much of the percussive / drum elements were often neglected in favour of the intricacy of the musical elements. The majority of the drum programming was pretty basic but functional, and this is not an accusation that can be aimed at this piece. ‘Warsaw In The Sun’ was one of the standout sections from the ‘Barbakane’ side of the ‘Poland’ live album and is hands down one of the most heavy hitting and melodic TD tracks.

Released as a single in two sections, the track has an ultra-memorable hook, with the single version having an alternative version and added Fairlight Orchestra 5 stabs for dramatic effect. The aforementioned kick and snare are almost like DEPECHE MODE in their power and fans of this track are highly recommended to invest in the ‘Poland’ album, which is consistently strong over its four 20+ minute pieces.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Poland’ via Jive Records


TANGERINE DREAM Charly The Kid (1984)

Where much of the era’s soundtrack work was lacking in subtlety, ‘Charly The Kid’ from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Firestarter’, shows a softer side to the band. Although the movie itself (like a lot of King films) was a bit of a howler, the soundtrack (the band’s fifth) is worth searching out. Although many of the music cues are short and don’t really work outside of the context of the film, ‘Charly The Kid’ with its electric piano and gentle pulsing sequencers works well as a standalone piece of music.

In typical film soundtrack mode, the theme from this track also crops up on three other pieces featured on the album: ‘Crystal Voice’, ‘Shop Territory’. Other TD soundtracks worthy of investigation are ‘Sorcerer’, ‘Thief’, ‘Flashpoint’ and the excellent Kathryn Bigelow vampire pic ‘Near Dark’.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Firestarter’ OST via Jive Records


KLAUS SCHULZE Freeze (1984)

Former TD drummer Klaus Schulze managed to carve out a successful solo career after leaving the band in 1970 and is still making music now, including some successful collaborative work with DEAD CAN DANCE vocalist Lisa Gerrard. Most of his early albums featured lengthy 20-30 minute pieces which were less melodic and more improvisational than the direction his former employers went on to follow.

‘Freeze’, a far shorter and more direct track was used alongside cuts from SHRIEKBACK and IRON BUTTERFLY to great effect in Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’. The film, which introduced the cinematic world to Hannibal Lecter (spelt ‘Lecktor’ in this version) was certainly enhanced by its cutting edge (at the time) soundtrack, and the icy Fairlight textures used here by Schulze worked perfectly in the story of the now iconic serial killer.

Available on the KLAUS SCHULZE album ‘Angst’ via Inteam


TANGERINE DREAM Song Of The Whale – Part One: From Dawn (1986)

The ‘Underwater Sunlight’ album is seen by many as one of the band’s last quality albums. Although skirting perilously close to New Age music in places, the opening track on the album (which comes in two parts) is undeniably lush and beautifully engineered – starting with percussive sequencers and breathy digital synths before synthetic guitars join the main theme.

Featuring Paul Haslinger on keyboards, the track also showcases Edgar Froese’s solo guitar work at 3’31’ alongside some big pre-delayed reverb-drenched drums. The piece dynamically moves through different phases before some heavier guitars lead the track back to another twin guitar solo and the main theme at the conclusion. ‘Underwater Sunlight’ the album, is definitely recommended if you are after a long player to chill out to. ‘Part Two: …To Dusk’ is more piano-based, but still beautifully melodic and the remaining pieces although generally more up-tempo make this a pretty cohesive album.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Underwater Sunlight’ via Jive Records


TANGERINE DREAM Running Out Of Time (1989)

Up until 1988, the band were incredibly prolific, but this year saw a slowing down and the release of just two albums, ‘Optical Race’ and the soundtrack to the Steve de Jarnatt movie ‘Miracle Mile’. The film itself is an underappreciated little gem of a movie starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham as a couple who tragically fall for each other just as the world goes into a nuclear meltdown.

‘Running Out Of Time’ which (as its title suggests) is featured in the climactic portions of the film where the couple’s doomed romance ends up prematurely with their helicopter freefalling into a primordial swamp. The track is similar in vibe to ‘Love On A Real Train’ and showcases TD’s knack of creating effective soundtrack music which stands up on its own merits outside of the context of the film. During the making of the album, the band were reduced to the two piece of just Froese and Haslinger. Although the film has not dated particularly well, the soundtrack judged on its own merits still holds up.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM album ‘Miracle Mile’ OST via Jive Records

 


CHRISTOPHER FRANKE Purple Waves (1992)

After exiting the band amicably in 1988, Christopher Franke released a few sporadic solo albums before finding his niche in writing TV and film soundtrack music, most notably for the long-running sci-fi series ‘Babylon 5’ and then setting up his own sound library company Sonic Images. Eventually relocating to Los Angeles from Berlin meant that Franke was at the very heart of the Hollywood film industry and his film work includes music for ‘Universal Soldier’, ‘The Tommyknockers’ and ‘Tales of the Crypt’.

‘Purple Waves’ is very TD-like, ‘The London Concert’ version starting with Prophet 5 pads before bell-like digital synths provide the main melodic parts. ‘White Eagle’-style sequencers pick up the rhythm around 1’40’ before becoming more prominent in the mix around 3 minutes. The middle section of the piece is a typical long and trippy Berlin School sequencer section, with layers of monosynths being joined by a Mellotron part which harks back the early Virgin era of TANGERINE DREAM. The track eventually comes full circle with the re-introduction of the main theme in the closing part of the piece.

Available on the CHRISTOPHER FRANKE album ‘The London Concert’ via Sonic Images


TANGERINE DREAM Silver Scale (1994)

TANGERINE DREAM were certainly not adverse to a bit of cheeky musical recycling in some of their pieces. ‘Silver Scale’ is a prime example, its central sequencer riff cropping up in ‘Diamond Diary’ from the superb ‘Thief’ soundtrack, ‘Church Theme’ from the film ‘Wavelength’ and ‘Horns of Doom’. This, at the time, previously unreleased version is a remixed and extended version for the ‘Tangents’ five disc retrospective collection and successfully pulls together elements from all of the aforementioned tracks.

Wonderful echoed sequencer work and ethereal shifting chords make this an essential inclusion on any TD compilation.

Available on the TANGERINE DREAM box set ‘Tangents 1973 -1983’ via Virgin Records


LOOM Cloudwalk (2013)

The LOOM project is inextricably linked with TANGERINE DREAM in that it includes both ex-members Johannes Schmoelling and Jerome Froese alongside Robert Waters. As well as their own original material, the LOOM live show usually features TD tracks from both the Jerome Froese and Schmoelling eras. ‘Cloudwalk’ is a graceful, floating and rhythmically intriguing electronic piece, beautifully melodic, starting out in waltz time before shifting to 4/4.

The drums throughout are skittering and bitcrushed and suit the quirky sound of the track. If you listen carefully, you can hear musical nods and references to the vocal melody of ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’.

Available on the LOOM album ‘The Tree Hates The Forest’ via Viktoriapark


JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & TANGERINE DREAM Zero Gravity (2015)

Possibly one of the last pieces that Froese worked on before his passing, ‘Zero Gravity’ is a dream (sorry!) combination of TANGERINE DREAM and French synth maestro JEAN-MICHEL JARRE. A collaboration that was a no-brainer, considering the two acts’ career trajectories, has resulted in a track that sounds more like TD than Jarre with its hypnotic sequencer patterns and melodic shifts.

The ABOVE & BEYOND remix takes the main theme and chord progression to turn it into one of their trademark melodic trance tracks. ABOVE & BEYOND were the ideal choice to remix the collaboration, having been influenced by the formative Jarre / TD works which have helped set the musical template for the whole melodic trance and dance genre.

Available on the JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & TANGERINE DREAM single ‘Zero Gravity’ via The Vinyl Factory


Dedicated to the memory of EDGAR FROESE 1944-2015

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Text by Paul Boddy
15th August 2015

TANGERINE DREAM Live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

TD-2In their earlier incarnations, TANGERINE DREAM were arguably as influential as KRAFTWERK in terms of electronic music.

This was especially from the perspective of ambient and electronic dance music in the use of sequencers in music production; ‘Phaedra’ was one of the first rock albums to feature the use of a Moog sequencer.

As with many bands that have managed to stick around for a while, there are line-ups which are considered to be the ‘classic’ ones; for TANGERINE DREAM, these are generally accepted as the Edgar Froese / Christopher Franke / Peter Baumann and Edgar Froese / Christopher Franke / Johannes Schmoelling eras.

Both line-ups produced a stellar run of albums from the genre-defining ‘Phaedra’, ‘Rubycon’ and ‘Ricochet’ from the former, through to a more melodic strain of electronica including the live works ‘Pergamon’, ‘Logos’ and ‘Poland’ from the latter. The band in both of these incarnations attracted the attention of film directors and their music went onto feature in the works of William Friedkin, Michael Mann and Ridley Scott.

TD-7So where does that leave TANGERINE DREAM now? Froese is the only remaining original member, the line-up now consisting of him, Thorsten Quaeschning (synths / guitar), Linda Spa (synths / flute / sax), Iris Camaa (percussion) and Hoshiko Yamane (cello / violin).

The ‘Phaedra Farewell’ tour isn’t supposed to spell the end of TANGERINE DREAM’s live work with more one-off dates have been promised for the future plus rumours of a link-up with JEAN MICHEL JARRE. All things considered, this tour shouldn’t have taken place as last year, Edgar Froese suffered a serious fall, breaking his hand and jaw, sparking rumours that it could spell the end of the band.

So for many, to see TANGERINE DREAM at all was a gift, to the point where every time Froese strapped on his guitar and perched his hat on the end of its neck, he earned a round of applause!

Choosing a setlist from a back catalogue that runs to over a 100 albums is never going to be an easy selection process, especially from an act that started in an extremely experimental vein and then progressed in a more mainstream direction.

The evening was split into two main sets with an interval after an hour. The first set struck a good balance between old and more recent material using a stage full of equipment with HD monitors showing softsynth emulations of the Arturia Moog Modular and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 were put to good use.

In the opening hour, there were glimmers of past glories including a large chunk of the PPG-driven ‘Sphinx Lightning’ from ‘Hyperborea’, the theme to the William Friedkin film ‘Sorcerer’ and ‘Horizon’ from the ‘Poland’ album. For a band that lacks the focal point of a vocalist, a decent lightshow would have been essential, but this aspect was disappointing, the stage’s backdrop featured what looked like a giant pack of dried super noodles(!) onto which a series of Windows screensaver-type back projections were added.

TD-8So, from a tech / geek point of view, it was tempting to watch the Schrittmacher step sequencers sat above each of the gear racks to provide some visual stimulation instead.

During the sequencer-driven numbers, these kicked into life and emulated the early Moog ones so beloved of the band in the 70s, each note accompanied by a trigger LED as they stepped through their pre-programmed patterns.

On a more positive note, the audio mix quality experienced from the first tier of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire was really superb, certainly on a par with KRAFTWERK’s ‘Minimum Maximum’ tour, where it felt like you were sitting and enjoying the sound of a huge hi-fi system rather than a band PA system.

After the interval, in a tribute to a fan who passed away, Iris Camaa donned a pair of black wings and danced while the band behind ran through new track ‘Josephine The Mouse Singer’ whilst the epitaph “There is no death, there is just a change of a universal address. IN MEMORIAM TIM PULLEN” was displayed on the screen behind.

Unfortunately the second set didn’t quite manage to build on the momentum built in the first. Too many tracks were dragged down by muzak driven sax, recalling the dreaded excesses of CANDY DULFER and KENNY G. There were however welcome highlights with an outing of ‘Grind’ (again from the ‘Sorcerer’ soundtrack), a sublime extract from ‘Logos’ and the glacial ‘White Eagle’.

TD-5After the second set drew to a close, the audience were finally treated to an extended extract from ‘Phaedra’ for the encore and then finished the evening with ‘The Silver Boots of Bartlett Green’.

It is customary for Edgar Froese to address the audience at the end of a gig and it was here that it was apparent how frail and fragile the 69 year old looked. He thanked the audience, but some of his words were unfortunately lost amongst the applause given to the band.

TANGERINE DREAM’s live experience now is an extremely different proposition to how they were in their imperial phase and the addition of live sax, flute and drums was probably not to everybody’s taste. However, when it does come time for Edgar Froese to finally hang up his hat in the live arena, what can’t be argued is the body of work that the band has produced and the long lasting impact that TANGERINE DREAM have had.


The ‘Phaedra Farewell’ tour continues: Theater Am Tanzbrunnen (1st June), Theater Am Tanzbrunnen (2nd June), Vienna Gasometer (3rd June), Warsaw Hala Arena Ursynów (4th June), Teatro Colosseo (9th June)

‘The Virgin Years: 1974-1978’ 3CD set featuring ‘Phaedra’ is available now via Virgin Records

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A selection of TANGERING DREAM merchandise including CDs, DVDs and books is available from https://www.ssl-id.de/edgarfroese.de/shop/index.php


Text by Paul Boddy
Photos by Ken Harrison Photography at www.kenharrisonphotography.co.uk
31st May 2014