Tangerine Dream: ‘Phaedra’

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German band Tangerine Dream were formed in 1967 by Edgar Froese, and little did the world know at the time what a musical pioneer this man would become.

Electronica, New Age and many other names have been given to Tangerine Dream’s music as it is very hard to pigeon-hole and give it a label. The band have released over one hundred official studio and live albums, over sixty movie soundtracks (including for such smash hit movies as “Firestarter” and “Risky Business”), plus background music to many TV series and video games. Edgar Froese as a solo artist has released over twenty five albums on his own.

The amazing thing is the band had an extremely heavy touring schedule as well. If you add on officially approved bootleg albums from the Tangerine Tree series (of which at present there are over eighty-five) and a collaboration with Brian May of Queen, you are looking at over two hundred album releases – quite a collection for somebody to have!

Although Edgar Froese was the only continuous member of the band until his sudden and tragic death in 2015, the classic line up of Tangerine Dream has always been Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann, who all performed together in the mid 1970’s.

After hearing some improvisational music from Froese, Richard Branson signed the band to his newly formed Virgin Records label and the first album with the new moniker on it was “Phaedra” in 1974. The album reached number fifteen in the British charts where it stayed for fifteen weeks, with sales going into six figures. It was quite incredible for that era to have such a hit album with no radio play to back it up (sales were by word of mouth only). While the sales were miraculous in the United Kingdom, in the band’s homeland of Germany they barely reached six thousand.

The music took it’s listener into uncharted territory and the opening song was based on the improvisation that Branson had heard before. Clocking in at over seventeen minutes long it takes you on a journey of many musical colors, starting out with soaring mellotron lines and hypnotic pulsing sequencer patterns with waves of synthesizers coming at you from all directions. Many people at the time had to go out and buy new equipment to play this experimental sort of music as the old hi-fi systems just were not up for the job.

The title track took up the whole of the first side in the days of vinyl and opening side two was “Mysterious Semblance At The Strand of Nightmares”, very much a ballad compared to what had gone before it on side one (albeit a very eerie ballad). Following next was “Movements of a Visionary” which starts off with bursts of colored noise and sparkling showers of VCS3 sounds, soon joined by synthesized pulses that build throughout the music until finally letting go at the end. The finale comes in the shape of “Sequence ‘c’”, a solo synthesizer piece.

Over forty years later this music is still quiet mysterious but mightily compelling. Even after Edgar Froese’s death, Tangerine Dream still carry on producing albums and playing live concerts as a successor had already been chosen in the form of Thorsten Quaeschning. Edgar Froese’s musical legacy may well last many lifetimes, so might his band.

The late Edgar Froese is shown performing in this undated photo.
The late Edgar Froese is shown performing in this undated photo.

Album Rating: 5 Stars

Track List:

Phaedra

Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares

Movements Of A Visionary

Sequence ‘c’

Tangerine Dream:

Edgar Froese – keyboards, guitars, etc.

Christopher Franks – keyboards and drums

Peter Baumann – keyboards

Note: Written by Mott the Dog from Fletchers’ Folly on the Dark Side of Pattaya.