Tag: Thorsten Quaeschning


Quality instrumental electronic music is often overlooked these days at the expense of vocal driven synth material.

The halcyon days, of when artists such as JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, KLAUS SCHULZE and TANGERINE DREAM were all at their peak, are all but a distant memory. However, there are still artists that are producing quality work in this vein.

‘Synthwaves’ is a collaboration between TANGERINE DREAM members Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss which utilises their enviable collection of synthesizers.

Whereas solo Schnauss has a fairly identifiable “wall of sound with Shoegaze elements” aesthetic, the link-up with Quaeschning has produced a more direct and melodic sound which, in places (unsurprisingly) references the classic sound of TD.

The start-off track ‘Main Theme’ appears to be a homage to the ‘Stranger Things’ opening music, which in itself paid tribute to TD and electronic artists of the era. From the off, the track relies on a deep resonant synth bass and sequencer lines before introducing some William Orbit-style stabs and big reverberant drum sounds. In classic TD style, more layered echoed sequencer parts raise the energy level and what makes the piece sustain interest over its 8 minute length is its continually changing chord progressions and refusal to rely on a linear approach.

‘Slow Life’ starts off with a quite beautiful ambient Eno-esque acoustic piano part drenched in a long reverb before swiftly introducing another wonderfully deep bass and hooky synth sequence. Alongside a later track on the album, the ghost of the classic ‘Risky Business’ soundtrack piece ‘Love On A Real Train’ is initially recalled here, but the introduction of phased Solina strings and guitar-like textures add a further dimension.

‘Cats and Dogs’ which relies on a vintage Oberheim DMX for its drum pattern and the PROPAGANDA lyric-pinching ‘A Calm But Steady Flow’ are pleasant enough, but come across as mid-album fillers.

Where the album really hits its stride though is in the final trilogy of tracks; ‘Thirst’ is the second track to owe a debt to ‘Love on a Real Train’. Based around a Manikin Schrittmacher sequencer part, the track’s skittering percussion and additional synth layers hit a wonderful climax at 3 minutes 17 seconds when a bass synth modulates around the hypnotic synth parts.

Although over 8 minutes in length, ‘Thirst’ never outstays its welcome and for fans of the Berlin School of sequencing, is bound to be an undeniable highlight here.

‘Flare’ comes across in part as a drum-less electronic re-imagining of a ‘Disintegration’-era track by THE CURE; its huge string synth melody sounding absolutely epic and adding in a welcome musical change to the piece.

Album closer ‘Prism’ has the kind of chord progression that makes the hairs stand up on the back of the neck and ends ‘Synthwaves’ on a real high.

What’s interesting about this collaboration (and potentially exciting for the fans of the upcoming TANGERINE DREAM album) is that it must have been hugely tempting for Quaeschning and Schnauss to use the tracks here for TD. The very fact that they haven’t means that the upcoming TD release ‘Quantum Gate’ could be something very special indeed and a major justification of the continuation of the band following the passing of leader Edgar Froese.

If you are a long term fan of melodic instrumental synthesizer music and maybe haven’t been inclined to investigate what is current within this sub-genre, this album would be a fantastic place to start. It avoids a lot of the clichés of some Berlin School material and at no point does it become overly self-indulgent.

Immerse yourself in the ‘Synthwaves’ and you may never wish to surface again…

‘Synthwaves’ uses the following instrumentation and equipment:

Thorsten Quaeschning – Steinberg Cubase, Manikin Schrittmacher sequencer, Manikin Memotron, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland JD800, Dave Smith Prophet 8, ARP Solina MK2, Korg Wavestation EX, Waldorf Microwave, Moog Voyager, Eurorack Modular, Roland V Synth, Korg Z1, Korg Prophecy, Korg M1 synthesiser, Clavia Nordwave, Yamaha TG77, Roland System 1, Roland JU06, Korg MS20, Roland JP08, Roland TR-8 Rhythm Performer, Oberheim DMX, Roland Promars, Fender Starcaster, Fender Telecaster, Fender Stratocaster, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, Spectrasonics Keyscape, Screwdriver on wood and contact microphones, several boxes with contact microphones, bees in garden

Ulrich Schnauss – Steinberg Cubase and Logic Pro, Manikin Schrittmacher sequencer, Roland JD XA, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland JD-800, Oberheim OB-8, Roland System 1, Roland MKS-70, Rhodes Chroma, Waldorf Q, Microwave XT, Sonic Core SCOPE system, Ensoniq DP4

‘Synthwaves’ is released in CD, vinyl LP and download formats by Azure Vista Records, available from





Text by Paul Boddy
9th July 2017


‘Particles’ is the latest double album release by TANGERINE DREAM and contains a diverse mixture of new material, reinterpretations of older tracks from their extensive back catalogue and a version of the ‘Stranger Things’ TV theme which fairly recently caught the Zeitgeist for many synth fans.

The album which originally came out at the end of last year has been re-issued by the Invisible Hands label and is available on vinyl, CD and download. A minority of long-term fans questioned the legitimacy of the band continuing after the passing of Edgar Froese in 2015, but it was the original leader’s request that remaining members Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane continue his vision for the group even in his absence. Although only containing seven tracks, the first ‘4.00pm Session’ sees a welcome return of a 30 minute epic improvised piece which in places harks back to the glory days of the classic Froese / Franke / Baumann era.

Interestingly, the band recorded this track in the Dierks-Studios in Pulheim where some 45 years previously they had conceived the album ‘Alpha Centauri’. After a short atmospheric introduction, a hypnotic sequencer part with Memotron flutes enters before the track lifts in dynamic with individual synth parts being filtered and poking through the mix. Around the 12 minute mark the track breaks down with growling Moog bass and Yamane’s haunting violin gliding over the top. The only criticism of ‘4.00pm Session’ is that some of the sequencer parts are a little on the thin side and lack the analogue depth of the ‘classic’ era TD ones; this aside, the track more than makes up for the ill-advised integration of almost muzak-style elements into the band a few years ago.

This return to a more improvisational and electronic approach was something that Froese wanted with the Quantum Era for the band and it’s clear that things are in safe hands with the current trio of Quaeschning, Schnauss and Yamane.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you would have been well aware of the massive impact of S.U.R.V.I.V.E.’s electronic soundtrack to the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’. Taking inspiration from the original film soundtracks of pioneers such as JOHN CARPENTER, the huge exposure of the program has done TANGERINE DREAM no harm at all in re-awakening the popularity of analogue-style electronica, and in homage, the band has re-created their own interpretation here. Where it mainly differs to the original is in featuring a much more multi-layered sequencer approach and also a tempo change midway through.

Fans of the Froese / Franke / Schmoelling era of TD will absolutely LOVE this; and by resisting the temptation to go too self-indulgent on the piece, has meant that you will surely want to hit the “repeat” button once you’ve heard the track through for the first time. ‘Rubycon’ will need no introduction to many, the track featured on the 2nd album TANGERINE DREAM released for the Virgin label back in 1975 and along with ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Ricochet’, became a defining moment for instrumental electronic music. The version featured here was recorded in Windeck and has polarised some fans; the original version had a deeply unsettling and otherworldly start to it, whereas here, some of the intro sounds here are less organic and maybe a little too PINK FLOYD-ish, especially the lead brass synth sound.

However, when the sequencer and Memotron lead combo hits at seven minutes the track takes off and does sound absolutely superb; the echoed bass part underpins the piece beautifully and the slightly overdriven electric piano floats over the top with added analogue strings. There are subtle additions to the piece with extra background sequencing, but aside from some misgivings about the intro, overall this is a highlight here.

The second disc (if you have the CD) features live recordings of 4 tracks; ‘Mothers of Rain’ dates back to the Paul Haslinger / Edgar Froese era and ‘Power of the Rainbow Serpent’ is a Quaeschning composition from the album ‘Mala Kunia’. ‘White Eagle’ has always been a TD fan favourite and the version here retains most elements from the original, although the bell-like lead melody has been replaced with a violin one from Yamane that takes a little adjusting to, but does work in the overall context of the track.

‘Dolphin Dance’ from the ‘Underwater Sunlight’ album is the most uptempo and percussive-driven piece here, still retaining its cyclical bass part, it’s a welcome gear shift in energy level. ‘Shadow and Sun’ was composed by Ulrich Schnauss with Froese, and again originally featured on the ‘Maia Kunia’ album. Prompting a few “woops!” and some clapping from the audience, the track returns ‘Particles’ back to a more reflective ending. Halfway through the piece, it goes on an arpeggiator-driven detour with more (slightly out of time) clapping, before an epic pad-heavy climax brings ‘Shadow and Sun’ to its conclusion.

For many TANGERINE DREAM fans, this album will act as a brilliant ‘holding’ piece until their new album ‘Quantum Gate’ is released in September. The updates of older material in ‘Particles’ have in the main been approached respectfully / sensitively and the mix of old and new is surprisingly cohesive.

With respected synthesist Ulrich Schnauss now fully integrated into the band, there is now some genuine excitement at the prospect of more new material from TANGERINE DREAM, and despite misgivings as to how the band would continue without their legendary leader, ‘Particles’ ably demonstrates that this hugely important act shows every sign of continuing to flourish. Highly recommended.

‘Particles’ is released as a double vinyl LP by Invisible Hands Music available from https://shop-invisiblehands.co.uk/collections/tangerine-dream  and still available as a double CD via Eastgate




Text by Paul Boddy
28th June 2017

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



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