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The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

UK Edition Release
New 2003/2009 Edition

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The Ambient Century - Mark Prendergast

US Edition Release
New 2003 Edition
In association with Amazon

 

UK Edition Release
November 2000
In association with Amazon

US Edition Release
January 2001
In association with Amazon

 

Published by Bloomsbury Books

 

TANGERINE DREAM:REMEMBERING THE DREAM

 

Tangerine Dream! The very name conjures up vistas of a different age. An age when hair was long, when Afghan coats and joss sticks were all the rage. An age when hours and hours of electronic music was listened to in packed halls, Cathedrals and amphitheatres across the world. For Tangerine Dream were, and still are to millions of their fans, the de facto progressive rock group. A group whose albums were long excursions into electronic sound possibilities, whose concerts combined the latest technology with the flash of rock improvisation. A group whose mystique has remained virtually intact for nearly forty five years.

 

What is most incredible about Tangerine Dream is that they achieved 10 million album sales and a worldwide fame on the basis of reputation alone. My first encounter with the Dream was in the late 1970s in Dublin when the brilliant 'Stratosfear' album was doing the rounds of University campuses. Nobody had really heard much about them and many compared them to Pink Floyd. Nevertheless thousands queued patiently for their gig at Dublin's National Stadium while truckloads of equipment was unloaded. When entry was finally gained the packed arena was treated to a phantasmogorical display of sound and light effects punctuated by the odd billowing of dry ice. As was their custom, the German trio hid behind a dark gauze, surrounded by banks and banks of flashing lights and glistening equipment. And no one seemed to mind for this was an occasion of pure connection - when sequenced electronic pulse overlayed by keyboard and guitar melody plucked at the heart of each and every listener.

 

That famous critic Lester Bangs once thought he saw God at a Tangerine Dream gig during the '70s. And many would agree with him for the group's mystique was always as important as the magical way they extracted melodic and beautiful sounds from what seemed to an observer a tangle of wires and switches. Even a glance at track titles such as 'Fly and Collision of Cosmas Sola', 'Astral Voyager', 'Cloudburst Flight' or 'Thru Metamorphic Rocks' indicates that here was a group of individuals whose interests transcended the frippery of the three-minute pop song. A constant in reviews of concerts or records of the 1970s is the power of the group to make the listener travel, the sheer organic life inherent in the music itself.

 

Back in the Autumn of 1987 Tangerine Dream played a huge free concert at the Reichstag near the old Berlin Wall. A virtual cornucopia of laser effects and electro-rhythms it was evident that they had lost none of their charisma. And as the CD age came upon us the power of the Dream's electronic voyage was brought into even sharper relief. For here was a music that seemed like it was invented for the digital age - a music of silence and volume, of subtle tones and shifting colours. Though founder-member Edgar Froese still leads a contemporary Tangerine Dream today it is the classic trio recordings made with Virgin in the decade from 1974 which form the bedrock of their reputation. And not only does this lovingly remastered boxed set document those years it also celebrates what for many is one of the most revolutionary sound adventures in rock.

 

Semblance of a Dream

 

"Music is like an ocean. It's a huge ocean of ideas and you've got the chance to create big rivers out of that ocean or just little streams of water. It depends only on your visions, mentality, emotional situation and creativity. One must work hard and think about the old composers for inspiration. Beethovan and Mozart, they were the revolutionaries who died physically for therk. They were the rock and rollers of their time!"(Edgar Froese)(1)

 

Edgar Froese was born in Tilsit, Lithuania on June 6th, 1944. His first choice of music was classical and he spent five years studying painting and sculpture in Berlin. Influenced by the rock music imported by American GI's , Froese turned to guitar and auditioned for a band called The Ones. He was quite into the Stones at the time. " I was first of all attracted to their looks. Their faces were absolutely damaged. They were the absolute opposite of The Beatles!"(2)

 



Froese's group , which included an organ, did the Berlin clubs until a painter friend invited him to Cadeques, a fishing village in North Western Spain near to Salvador Dali's villa in Port Lligat. This was a crucial move for on meeting Dali Froese thought that he might be able to apply the painter's surrealistic techniques to music. Back in Berlin huge grants were attracting the likes of Stockhausen and John Cage to the city. The place was alive with new ideas for tape and electronic music. In 1967 Froese and The Ones returned to Cadeques to work with Dali on a French television film. They also performed at his villa - and were involved in a happening around Dali's famous "Christ Statue." That was their height for afterwards they spent four depressing months starving in Paris, playing Johnnny Halliday's club and supporting Jimmy Cliff at a club near the Moulin Rouge. Not surprisingly the band broke up with only one single to their name. (above)

Back in Berlin Froese's head was full of exotic musical ideas. The summer of love had brought with it the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors and inspired by a line from John Lennon's 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', Froese formed Tangerine Dream in Sept 1967. The first line-up included Volker Hombach (flute and violin), Kirt Hirkenberg (bass) and Lanse Hapshash (drums). The period was one of great upheaval in Germany as the politics of hippiedom drifted through youth culture and out on the streets of Berlin. The word was revolt and music with tunes was considered bourgeois. Hans Roedelius (later of Cluster) founded the Zodiak Free Arts Lab with Conrad Schnitzler in Berlin in 1968 to reflect the changing mood. With one room painted black and another painted white it played host to sound experiments with amplifiers, tone generators and organ manipulations. Tangerine Dream would play five to six hours a night, an explosively loud group they were reputed to begin with Pink Floyd's 'Interstellar Overdrive' and go up in register from there, improvising all the way!

 

Together with such groups as Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Guru Guru, Kraan, Amon Duul, Agitation Free,Floh De Cologne and Organisation (later Kraftwerk); Tangerine Dream were part of a new vanguard happy to break with Germany's inglorious past. In Sept 1968 they played a famous Essen festival headlined by Frank Zappa and Tim Buckley. But the line-up was unstable with various drummers and bass players coming and going. In 1969 a Berlin Conservatory student Steve Jolliffe joined on electric flute but had left by Nov 1969 when Froese met Klaus Schulze a classical guitarist turned drummer who had formed the group Psy Free. Together with old friend Conrad Schnitzler they set up in a rented factory space and let rip with a two-track Revox for company. The results were the debut Dream album Electronic Meditation.

According to Schulze - " We recorded and toured 'Electronic Meditation'. That for me is the primary electronic album. Edgar played guitar , Shnitzler organ and me drums through loads of effects. We were experimenting with a lot of random stuff and 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 an echo machine.I played a lot of different percussive sounds that were then altered by machines. It was just great to be in a band who were open to so much experimentation." (3)


Though it contained elements of late 1960s Pink Floyd and a lot of wigged-out psychedelic guitar the album had enough weird noises to attract the attention of the fledgling Ohr records who released it in 1970 after a tour of Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Surprisingly Schulze had quit the group before the album was even released. He joined Ash Ra Tempel and would go on to record 27 solo albums. And though he briefly rejoined the Dream in 1973 for a French tour his early association with the group ensured him a kind of mythical status amongst fans. By 1971 Froese was looking for a replacement and met Christoph Franke (b. April 1952) in Berlin. Franke was considered the best young jazz drummer in Germany and had done some serious study in Strasbourg and Nancy, particularly about the relationship between theatre and music. Franke was in the seminal Agitation Free and first saw Tangerine Dream at an experimental studio in Berlin. " They were making experiments with instruments and also with visuals, with pictures and exhibitions."(4) After doing some TV music and working in an Arts Lab in Vienna, Conrad Shnitzler then left to be replaced by Steve Schroyder on organ.

 

So the trio of Froese, Franke and Schroyder went into a studio in Koln and recorded their first cosmic album Alpha Centauri named after the brightest star in the Southern constellation. With its gothic organs, wafting flutes and weird synthesizer sound courtesy Roland Paulyck, 1971's Alpha Centauri established Tangerine Dream as Germany's premier space rock group. Again the line-up changed as Schroyder left and various organists came and went until Froese saw keyboardist Peter Baumann working in a Berlin club with a band called The Ants. Baumann, still in his late teens was interested in synthesizers as was Franke. By 1972 the classic line-up of Froese/Franke/Baumann was in place. They got down to a work on a huge double album called Zeit with Franke and Baumann on VCS3 synths, Froese on mellotron , organ and guitar, Florian Fricke of Popol Vuh on the big Moog and four cello players. It was called a 'Largo in Four Movements' and was completely experimental. To give an idea of how they were viewed at the time a French critic Herve Picart saw them play at a festival in the Theatre de L'Ouest,Paris alongside Kraftwerk, Ash Ra Tempel and other German groups of the period. In his Feb 1973 review , Picart contended that Tangerine Dream made -

 

"An abstract music, excessively intellectualised, a pure creation of sounds without any search nor any rhythm nor any evocation. A music of a cold empty cosmos, electronic , as distant as these impossible musicians entrenched and immobile behind their desks. In short, we are left with the feeling that Tangerine Dream think too much!" (5)

 

Their next work Atem , thir final album for Ohr, was released that summer. More accessible than 'Zeit' ,'Atem' involved long rustic organ solos reminiscent of Pink Floyd circa 'Ummagumma'. It experimented with volume and had an almost quasi-religious quality. Though many were baffled by Tangerine Dream's drift it has now been recognised that their early recordings are of historical significance.(In fact Virgin re-issued all four recordings in 1976). According to American New Music expert John Schaefer - " Here were three young German rock musicians playing music that sounded as bizarre and self-indulgent as Stockhausen sounded to much of the traditional classical audience. Often without any recognisable melodies or harmonies early TD recordings took the listener on a flight through a chemical wonderland - spacey, occasionally abrasive, at times completely adrift from conventional music forms." (6)

 

Phaedra

 

If European audiences were puzzled by their direction, in Britain they had a sizeable and growing following. DJ John Peel was a big fan of 'Atem' and wrote and phoned Edgar Froese to tell him how much he loved their music. 'Atem' became his album of 1973. That summer Peter Baumann left to travel in Nepal and India and Tangerine Dream were reduced to a duo. Virgin Records in London were impressed by the burgeoning following of the group and wanted to sign them up. In Baumann's absence , Froese and Franke went into Skyline Studios Berlin to record Green Desert , a series of electronic tone poems using such devices as a rhythm controller and phaser along with the usual synthesisers and keyboards. The album was not released until 1986 but today shows just how much ongoing "sound research" the group was involved in. When Baumann returned from his travels the group played the tapes for Virgin. Richard Branson offered them a five year contract and was keen for the trio to come to Britain to record a new opus at the Manor studios in Shipton where Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' had been hatched. A huge modular Moog synthesizer was bought with the advance and the trio arrived in Oxfordshire in the winter of 1973 for what would become one of the most important recording sessions of Tangerine Dream's life.

 

Recorded in less than six weeks Phaedra has passed into the lexicon of electronic music as a state of the art showcase of embryonic technology coupled with fearless innovation. The title comes from the Greek myth of Phaedra who committed suicide after her stepson refused her advances. The album is divided into four sections, two credited to the group, one each to Froese and Baumann. Along with conventional instruments like guitar,bass, organ and flute each member used a VCS 3 Synthi. Froese played his mellotron, Franke the big Moog and Baumann electric piano. The title track 'Phaedra' was a blueprint of sequenced Moog beat and electronic embellishment. At over 17 minutes it conveyed feelings of the cosmos, of giant suns exploding, of huge ocean movements , of mythological lands, of eddies and drifts. Layer upon layer of futuristic sounds piled one on top of the other until the whole thing climaxes in some interstellar void. 'Mysterious Semblance at The Strand of Nightmares' had a sub-aquatic feel, all thick Mellotron and effects as if it were the soundtrack for the birth and death of ancient land masses. 'Movements of a Visionary' brought back the sequenced Moog with overlays of organ and bright keyboards. Baumann's final 'Sequent C' had hints of Mahler with its textured flute drones and at just over 2 minutes was a fittingly brief finale to an incredible album. Described as 'melting music' with a cover to match 'Phaedra' was released on the 20th Feb 1974 and rocketed Tangerine Dream straight into the U.K. album charts. An incredible feat for an electronic music album, 'Phaedra' reached the Top 20 (No 15) and stayed on the chart for 15 weeks on the strength of its quality alone. Edgar Froese remembers -

 

" The first recording session took place on Nov 20th 1973 in the Manor near Oxford. Until this session Tangerine Dream had only improvised. 'Phaedra' was the first album in which many things had to be structured. The reason was that we were using the Moog sequencer (all driving bass notes) for the first time. Just tuning the instrument took several hours each day, because at the time there were no pre-sets or memory banks. We worked each day from 11 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock at night. By the 11th day we barely had 6 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 knackered. Fortunately, after a two day break in the countryside a new start brought a breakthrough. 'Mysterious Semblance' was recorded on Dec 4th. Pete and Chris were asleep after a long day's 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-keyboaded Mellotron while Monique turned the knobs on a phasing device. This piece is on the record exactly as it was recorded that day. And this practice was 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 at 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. A day later, Simon Draper, Virgin's A & R man, popped into the studio to say hello. After he heard the opening title track he was stunned. When the album was released it topped the charts all over the place, the group receiving gold records in over 7 countries around the globe." (7)

 

Surprisingly Tangerine Dream's first move after the album's release was to come to England to work on the soundtrack for a play 'Oedipus Tyrannus',produced by the actor Keith Michell for the Chichester Theatre. Michell was fascinated by 'Phaedra's "space time element" and wanted a special project. In London in April 1974 the group gave a fascinating interview to journalist Karl Dallas about their working practices and philosophy. Froese talked of spending " a month in rehearsal to work out most of the thousand sounds that are possible. It's real teamwork." Added Baumann - " 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." They seemed to be dissatisfied with straight rock. Baumann felt that " after a while you find you can't listen to loud music". Froese concluded that electronics saved the group and that things were nearly over when Franke sold his drums. " We had to start all over from the beginning with just a sine wave, discovering the difference between real sounds and just imitating sounds." (8)

 

In June of 1974 they recorded the "Oedipus" score at CBS studios and a concept album version of it at the Manor but they weren't happy with it so it was never released. That month also saw their first U.K. concert at Victoria Palace Theatre and at the near the end of the year Tangerine Dream returned to do a full twenty date British tour, trademarking the almost sacred nature of their work by playing mostly improvised sets from a darkened stage to a hushed audience. This religious aspect was heightened by their performance at Reims famous Gothic Cathedral in North East France. Supported by high-priestess of gloom Nico (of Velvet Underground fame) the event turned into something of a legend when 6000 people turned up at a venue only designed for 2000. Chaos ensued and later Pope Paul VI issued a decree banning them from playing any more Catholic cathedrals. He even went so far as to have Reims purified. In any event it gave Tangerine Dream an enormous amount of publicity as well as credibility.

 

Crossing the Rubycon

 

The crossing of the river Rubicon in 49 B.C. by Julius Caesar led to an unstoppable war. Hence the phrase today denotes a point of no return. When Froese, Franke and Baumann entered the Manor again in Jan of 1975 the set about recording an album that would establish them as masters of the electronic rhythm - what John Schaefer describes as the " chugga - chugga - chug sound of sequencers"(9) - a sound that would be adopted wholeheartedly by Ambient House groups such as The Orb in the '90s. Rubycon featured much the same instrumentation as 'Phaedra' with Franke adding a modified Elka organ and gong while Baumann introduced prepared piano and Arp synth. It also showed a disdain for the Single orientation of mainstream rock in that it was a suite in two parts taking up two entire sides of an LP.

 

'Rubycon Part 1' opened with some exquisite random tones which recalled some of Karlheinz Stockhausen's timbral experiments of the early 1950s . Then it broke into an aural sea of high fluted drones and synth washes, a sort of coda to the mesh-like flavour of 'Phaedra'. After about seven minutes the thick sequencer beat of the Moog began to run embroidered by all sorts of fantastical synth sounds. A dancing, unfurling rhythm this was state-of-the art electronic music with treated keyboard notes that seemed to well-up out of nowhere and disappear again in a cloud of hazy effects. 'Part 2' seemed to pay homage to Gyorgi Ligeti's spine-chilling 'Lux Aeterna' , the immortal choral piece that defined the strangeness of the film '2001 A Space Odyssey'. After four minutes the eerie chorus abated and once again the pulse of the Moog was felt as Tangerine Dream let fly with every type of sound in their electronic arsenal. The calm almost rural finale was mirrored by Monique Froese's terrific water-drop blue sleeve (Fans of the group could also find a small photo of the Froese's son Jerome hidden inside the gatefold, a touch that could be traced right back to 'Alpha Centauri'). Not surprisingly the public lapped it up and when it was released in March of 1975 it went straight to number 12 in the British chart, staying there for fourteen weeks. Edgar Froese recalls the recording of one of there most successful albums -

 

"When the band walked into the Manor for the second time, we were weighed down by the success of 'Phaedra'. There was a pressure to 'do it again' but one has to point out that Simon Draper and Richard Branson at Virgin did not pressure us to be commercial. The attitude was that Tangerine Dream could do whatever they wanted on record, which was a very unusual practice for a record company. 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 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 'Phaedra' 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 string sections and 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 or conect our synths to electrical generators. Chris's 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 12 hours of music from which to mix the final master." (10)

 

When 'Rubycon' was released Tangerine Dream were on an Australian tour due to the success there of 'Phaedra'. Again Peter Baumann opted out and was replaced by old Berlin chum Michael Hoenig. There were many problems including airline strikes and transit damage to Chris Franke's big Moog. When they returned in April for a sold-out Albert Hall gig, Baumann was back in the fold within two weeks of the gig. They bought new equipment and kept gigging. In August they played a Roman Amphitheatre in Southern France and in September were special guests of the 'Fete de l'Humanite' in Paris, a huge event sponsored by the French Communist Party. After their French tour they again toured Britain this time taking in Coventry and Liverpool cathedrals as well as York Minster. Tony Palmer filmed the Coventry gig for posterity.

 

1975 was a significant year for electronic music. Kraftwerk from Dusseldorf had expanded to a quartet and had found huge success in America with the hypnotic 'Autobahn'. Their tours of that year were prescient reminders that electro-pop did have a future. And while such behemoths of rock as The Stones and Led Zeppelin were literally trampling America underfoot the enigmatic Pink Floyd had scored a cross-Atlantic number one album with the throbbing VCS3 synth sounds of the immaculate 'Wish You Were Here'. Elsewhere Brian Eno was building on the systems music ideas of American minimalists Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Both 'Another Green World' and 'Discreet Music' proved that an Ambient electronic sound was as accessible as any MOR ballad while his collaboration with Robert Fripp 'Evening Star' was full of shimmering beauty. Mike Oldfield released the enchanting 'Ommadawn' and back in Germany Can recorded their debut album for Virgin 'Landed' whilst Neu released the classic 'Neu '75'. Tangerine Dream finished the year by overdubbing tapes of their French and British tours and releasing the results in the form of Ricochet. Again spread over two continuous sides the album was vintage Tangerine Dream. 'Part 2' was particularly memorable with its foresty flute and acoustic piano intro which led to an extraordinary sequencer run full of exotic electronic sounds, some of which would become sample staples for such '90s House groups as The Future Sound of London. Chris Franke - "The concerts were much too long to use in one context. We had to edit about forty or fifty hours of music, kilometres of tape to find the most important parts, the most typical things of us. We were very satisfied with the results." (11)

 

Stratospheric Heights

 

The period from the beginning of 1976 to the end of 1977 was to be one of great intensity for Tangerine Dream - a period marked by dazzling success and spirit-sapping dissolution. It was a time of film music, of American tours with the latest laser technology. It was a time of brilliant studio and live albums. But it was also a time when the classic trio of Froese/Franke/Baumann split apart forever. After finishing a European tour 1976 began with the Dream retiring to Berlin to work on a soundtrack for American film-maker William Friedkin, the gritty realist director of such films as 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist'. 'Sorcerer' was a re-make of Clouzot's 1953 'The Wages of Fear'about risky truck transport and Friedkin was so into the Dream's music that he wanted to make the film around whatever they came up with in the studio. Though the film was no great shakes the soundtrack (licensed to MCA from Virgin) was evocative, stylish and full of economic throbs courtesy of their new customised Projeckt Electronic equipment. Froese was particularly pleased - " All our knowledge about improvising and creating very fast meant that when we sat down for the first time to compose the music for Friedkin it was so easy! We put it down in a few words - words about forms and melody lines and prism structures. We wrote it all down and then we taped the lot."(12) The soundtrack's release over a year later saw it go Top 25 and sealed Tangerine Dream's future career as in-demand film composers.

 

Yet back in the summer of '76 there were still problems. Baumann was uneasy about his role in the group and took time out to record his first Virgin solo album 'Romance '76', a mixture of stripped-down electro beat and strange orchestral textures. That summer Virgin re-released the early Dream records but the most important event was the August recording of Stratosfear (note the spelling!) at Audio Studios in Berlin. Possibly their most enduring album, 'Stratosfear' came wrapped in a Sci-Fi flavoured metaphysical sleeve of receding oblong slabs over a red saturated horizon. The contents involved four tracks of exceptional beauty with the usual Moogs and Mellotrons being augmented by harpsichord, acoustic guitars, grand piano and mouth organ. Peter Baumann utilised a new Projeckt Electronic Rhythm Computer which gave the percussive sequences a very dry, precise finish. The title track contained succulent guitar passages and some nice splashes of stringed mellotron. There was a lightness of touch about the album, an almost classical abstraction. 'The Big sleep in search of Hades' was formed around a harpsichord/flute motif that was Chopin-like in its delicacy. The epic '3 A.M. at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee' began with a keyboard ping reminiscent of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes' and slowly transformed into an evocation of the Florida swamps replete with harmonica and burbling water effects. A heavily synthesized bass figure then spiralled up to propulsive sequencer passages enhanced here and there by string and bell sounds. 'Invisible Limits' completed an impeccable album with a gorgeous creamy sound, featuring Froese's electric guitar and insistent electro-rhythms which climaxed on the pastoral flute/piano sound of old. Edgar Froese -

 

"Looking back, this was the most complicated and nerve-wracking of any TD production. Peter had just had this huge Computer Sequencer built for him. It was technically much more comfortable to use and the tuning was more stable. However this instrument was only completed two weeks after recording had begun and it had taken the Berlin electronics company a year to build it. Peter had a lot of problems with it and anything that could go wrong, both technically and musically, did. Myself and Chris often left the studio in a bad mood. The recording time cost a fortune and the production went on for weeks. When Peter finally had his sequencer under control, both of the multi-track machines in the studio suddenly and inexplicably broke down. These were repaired after three days but then smoke started pouring out of the Dolby units in the recording room. Since these were important noise-reduction units recording was again interrupted for many days until they were repaired. And then there were a number of musical problems amongst the group about which tracks were to be chosen. 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, a 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 happened during those 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!"

(13)

 

'Stratosfear' would go on to become the most identifiable Tangerine Dream album. One that the fans loved but the growing hoardes of punk rock revisionists labelled 'musical wallpaper'. No matter, its release in October 1976 saw it go Top 40 in Britain and within three weeks was climbing the Billboard charts. In effect Tangerine Dream had cracked the American market. But there were growing fissures behind the facade of smooth Germanic efficiency. Tensions between Baumann and Froese, noticeable during the recording of 'Stratosfear', reached a head when Baumann was rumoured to have quit the group near the end of '76, leaving Froese and Franke to sort out the important 1977 American tour. At the beginning of '77 Baumann came to London to promote 'Romance '76' and buy equipment for a studio he was building in Berlin. In interviews he was frank about how he felt -



 

 

"We are not splitting up but we are not married. It's always the same with a group, you have a common status when you start but over six years three different people cannot be expected to have the same kind of development musically and personally. Edgar is eight to nine years older than me. He is married. He has a child. I think these things do matter to the kind of music you are playing. The world has changed in the last six years.We just thought we couldn't go on with what we did in the beginning - it would be dishonest. The end was 'Ricochet' and the new beginning 'Stratosfear'. This is a time of change."(14)

 

It then transpired that Froese talked Baumann out of leaving by taking a "cool look". Baumann revealed quite honestly when he was in London that it was just " senseless to collect money and be ruined after a while musically. When I did the solo record I had a very strong feeling. We had long discussions before Christmas. Well, we never finished the discussions and that maybe shows that it's virtually impossible for three people to get over a certain limit. So the situation at the moment is that we plan to do the American tour and probably another record, but we know we can't get closer after six years than we are." (15)

 

So in the Spring / Summer of 1977, Tangerine Dream hit America for two sell-out tours. Reports from the period indicated a group huge with both black dance audiences and white hippie youth. Chris Frank bought a sizeable new Oberheim Polyphonic Synth and Martin-Audio designed an extremely loud synthesizer friendly PA. Touring with no support they relied on the visual arabesques of a Krypton gas laser which "travels through a series of optics to emerge as laser snowflakes or cloud formations suspended in space." (16) Stories of screaming girls, dry-ice, Froese's ear-splitting Gibson guitar solos and the enigma of a German group playing in near-darkess abounded. Tickets in Los Angeles,Cleveland , Washington and New York were all sold-out within days. In October 1977 a double-album document of the tour was released by Virgin in the form of Encore. Based on themes from 'Stratosfear' this four-track set revealed how accomplished Froese/Franke & Baumann had become in merging captivating melodic fragments with a continually changing electronic backdrop and both 'Cherokee Lane' and 'Monolight' were deftly executed. 'Coldwater Canyon' included Froese's longest guitar solo on record, a heavily treated sound which lay somewhere between Hendrix and Jimmy Page. 'Desert Dream' in contrast was more Ambient, for the most part consisting of spiralling electronic tones punctuated by occasional linear melodies, the best being some Spanish-sounding synthesised horns over a stately keyboard.

 

'Encore' would become the definitive live TG album but was to be the last featuring Peter Baumann for in Nov of '77 he bowed out of Tangerine Dream for good. According to Froese - " we played our last live concert together in Sept of 1977 at the University of Boulder in Colorado."(17) Fatigued by touring Baumann preferred to be back in Berlin and getting on with his solo career. 'Romance '76' had done well in America and got a considerable amount of FM airplay. Baumann had often talked about achieving a more "concrete theme" and was interested in getting near the "edge points of pop music".(18) What this meant was finally unveiled on Trans Harmonic Nights, recorded over six months in 1978 and released by Virgin in 1979 to critical acclaim. This was easily accessible almost danceable music whose snakey sequenced lines, compacted melodies and stripped down sound would form a blueprint for British electro-bop of the '80s. Baumann went on to work with Cluster and Robert Palmer. There's no doubt that there was a certain amount of friction in Tangerine Dream when Baumann was on board. Even today Edgar Froese admits it - " Peter was an intuitive person - with very good results in many situations. But there were many unpleasant situations when his bio-system wasn't in the right mood and that sometimes prevented work without interruption. (19) " Still, Baumann's time in Tangerine Dream was crucial , a time which produced such quintessential recordings as 'Phaedra' and 'Stratosfear'. Without him the way ahead would not be easy.

 

The Second Coming

 

When Tangerine Dream had begun, their European techno-cool was virtually unmatched . But by the end of 1977 their position had come under fire from several quarters. David Bowie, who had gone to Berlin in the summer of 1976 had had discussions with Edgar Froese about a possible collaboration. The then 'Thin White Duke' was impressed with Froese's concept of "timeless music" and both shared an art school background. Commented Froese - " He got a flat in Berlin and every day or every second day we went out and had long conversations. But the problem was that my time plan was different from his time plan."(20) Bowie even considered working with Kraftwerk but ended up enlisting the services of studio-boffin Brian Eno and produced two stunning albums 'Low' and 'Heroes' full of icy electronic instrumentals. Kraftwerk themselves had really pushed the scales towards looped drum beats with their phenomenal 'Trans-Europe Express', a perfect electronic concept album from beginning to end. Ex-Dreamer Klaus Schulze finally cracked Britain with his electronic suite 'Mirage', a carefully constructed almost classical "winter landscape" in sound . Ashra (formerly Ash Ra Tempel) released the ethereal 'New Age Earth' and all around new wave groups like Ultravox were getting into synthesizers. Where could an innovating group like Tangerine Dream go from here?

 

Froese and Franke decided to get two musicians in to replace Baumann. One was the flautist Steve Jolliffe who was briefly in the group in 1969. He had been working with film-music and animation in London and was happy to re-join 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 1976. The new quartet went into Berlin's Audio Studios in Jan of 1978 to record Cyclone. Although the equipment list was impressive - including Roland Guitar Synths, Multi- Trigger drums and a veritable arsenal of synthesizers and sequencers the resulting music was not. A total misfire, grandiose titles like 'Rising Runner Missed By Endless Sender' and 'Madrigal Meridian' did not hide the fact that Steve Jolliffe writing lyrics and singing them was not a good idea. The usual touring followed the album's release, the group's American shows getting a real boost from Laserium Inc's customised laser effects. Back in England the press were giving the new TG the thumbs down and the NME's Paul Morley was particularly cutting. " Creatively they are static and perhaps not a little desperate. Froese has become so obsessed with the technical procedure involved in producing the noise that he seems to have lost touch with the end product. The technology has obliterated the art." (21)

 

The criticisms seem to have worked for Jolliffe was quickly dropped and the new trio of Froese/Franke/Krieger went into Hansa by the Wall, Berlin, and from August to September of 1978 put down the critically acclaimed Force Majeure. Its release the following June saw it go Top 30 in the U.K. and many felt it spelled the second coming of Tangerine Dream. Mellifluous ideas were now passe. In their place was a harsher landscape with eerie synths and a complex use of electronic sound that defined other dimensions. As Roger Waters once commented Pink Floyd were never about outer space but inner space. If there a group who made music for extraterrestial worlds it was Tangerine Dream and 'Force Majeure' proved their adroitness without a shred of doubt. Of course there were the usual guitar passages and sequencer runs while the acoustic guitar introduction of 'Cloudburst Flight' was almost whimsical. Yet 'Thru Metamorphic Rocks' was classic Dream - beginning with an epic guitar burst (not a million miles away from Hendrix's phased solo on 'Bold As Love') it mutated into something stranger, impatient synth strokes darted hear and there as railway track sounds , propulsive drums and howling enveloped one in an apocalyptic sound. In the year of dark cinematic visions such as Ridley Scott's 'Alien' and Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Stalker' this was apt music indeed.

 

Because of their stature Tangerine Dream were invited to play two concerts at the Palast Der Republik on the Eastern side of the Berlin Wall - a first for a western rock group. The shows took place on the 31st January 1980 with tickets eventually selling for $125 on the black market. The National Broadcast Network of the old GDR recorded the event and it was released as 'Quichotte' on the East German label Amiga. (Virgin eventually acquired the rights and re-released it as Pergamon in 1986).The event was also the live debut of new member Johannes Schmoelling who joined Froese and Franke to replace the more conventional Krieger. Again Tangerine Dream were an electronic trio. Schmoelling was 29 at the time and had a degree in electronics. He was working as a sound engineer but had a long history in piano and organ music. Froese was quite impressed when he met him - " Johannes was very professional in terms of music and studio work. He had remarkable concentration and could work for long stretches of time. He had several years experience as an audio-technician at the famous Berlin Schaubuehne theatre of Peter Stein. I visited a performance there of Robert Wilson's ' Death, Destruction & 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."(22) According to Schmoelling -

 

"I was trained as a classical piano and church organ player. During my studies at the Berlin Music University I came in contact with people who played this rock stuff like The Doobie Brothers, Santana or Steely Dan. So I learned how to play rock piano and organ - do a proper solo. In 1979 I was the sound engineer at the Schaubuehne theatre. I came in contact with Edgar because he loved this Robert Wilson play. He knew of my intention to leave the theatre and do more music recordings so one day he asked me about Tangerine Dream. It seemed to be the ideal group to work with me being a composer, performer and sound engineer all in one person. Now it could be a group of three individuals again, all with the same musical intention. Before I joined I felt the music of Tangerine Dream was basically built on sequencer loops, more or less in one key, with little harmony changes and long ongoing sessions of improvisation. When I joined we tried a mixture of more structured elements with more jazz-oriented chords. composed melodies and some synthesizer solos close to rock. Let's say we wanted a music of more dynamic." (23)

 

From Dawn ...To Dusk

 

The first real fruits of the Froese/Franke/Schmoelling line-up was Tangram, released in May of 1980. Recorded in Chris Franke's new Polygon studio complex in Berlin, the music again filled up two complete sides of an LP and was a warmer, more subtle confection than previous Dream offerings. Bright keyboard and synth melodies were to the forefront and 'Tangram Pt 1' seemed to lean in the direction of Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis - two stylists who had gained worldwide popularity with their catchy tuneful approach to synth music. 'Tangram Pt 2' was more potent with its strong synth blasts, finely mingled guitars and chugging sequencer beat. The mixture of New Age smoothness with familiar Dream elements landed the album in the British Top 40.


Froese's intense work ethic meant that Tangerine Dream didn't stop for a breath. No sooner was 'Tangram' finished than work began on the soundtrack for the Michael Mann film 'Thief' starring James Caan and Tuesday Weld. William Friedkin had recommended the Dream's music to Mann because of its raw, cutting edge character. A serious commitment, a huge GDS computer was brought in from Music Technology Inc to help with the synchronisation. Froese was especially enthusiastic - " 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 stand on its own." (24)

 

Thief was released in March of '81 and again charted. A significant album it allowed the public to grasp the new trio over eight tracks. According to 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'."(25) Certainly the recording had some extraordinary noises - 'Dr Destructo' combined a Kraftwerkian beat with a terrifying guitar sound; 'Burning Bar' interloped swinging high frequency synth notes between a driving, almost military sequencer run; both 'Diamond Diary' and 'Trap Feeling' explored texture, the first from noise to melody, the second in terms of hanging spatial synth tones - a sound which would become the trademark of Brian Eno's later Ambient music. The album climaxed with the burning 'Igneous' , itself a shorter mix of 1979's 'Thru Metamorphic Rocks'.

 

In America the critics went wild over the soundtrack. The Village Voice likened their music to "hallucinogenic adrenalin" and the Dream themselves as "ice-cool men working with white-hot equipment."(26) The New York Times commented that " the music of Tangerine Dream sounds as if it wanted to have a life of its own."(27) The New York Daily News called it "exotically dangerous", The LA Times thought it was " as beautiful as Bach" and Newsweek even "apocalyptic".(28) The best appraisal came from the College Media Journal who felt that " the band proves once again that it reigns supreme over the often misunderstood land of space rock." (29) the film's backing by United Artists , Tangerine Dream found themselves in the odd position as Hollywood darlings with an open door to more soundtrack work. Coincidentally in the period between finishing the soundtrack and its release they had been chosen by the Berlin/L.A. committee to represent the 'neue musik' at the 1980 Los Angeles Bicentennial festival. The committee even visited Franke's prestige $1.5 million studio complex which David Bowie frequented and got a shock. Recalled Franke - " They saw all our equipment and said 'Where are we? Are we on the moon?' (30)Not surprisingly their concert at the Santa Monica Civic was a sell-out. Another concert at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre was recalled by Down Beat critic John Diliberto as having " dynamics that could move from orgiastic, rhythmic intensity into a luminous Keith Jarrett-like piano solo without losing any momentum." (31)

 

Beyond The North Wind

Whilst fans were digesting all this a four album boxed set entitled Tangerine Dream '70-'80 had been released by Virgin. It celebrated a decade of recording activity by including unreleased material from Froese, Franke and Baumann. 'Thief' stayed for three months on the American album charts but by the summer of 1981 Tangerine Dream had a new studio album to unveil. Remembered 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 much at all and we didn't need an engineer. We just had everything around us, the same way as onstage." (32) For Schmoelling it was a further freeing of creative juices - " At this stage we had the freedom of composing in different styles, choosing different colours and different techniques. We experimented with drum-loops built out of spliced tapes achieving the same effects as rap musicians do today using sampling techniques. " (33)

 

Recorded over June and July 1981 Exit really showed-off the potential of the new trio for it was a stunning album in every way. A virtual soundtrack for a future cybernetic generation this could have been the score to Ridley Scott's classic 'Bladerunner' of the following year. Housed in a compelling Monique Froese sleeve the album contained six tracks full of brevity, lyrical phrasing and the resonance of the latest electronic equipment including the Fairlight Computer Music Instrument.. The opening cut 'Kiew Mission' contained a Russian actress reciting words of "elucidation" about world peace and communication. At the time Froese commented - " The words are directed at people in Russia. It's a very spiritual message we hope will help ease the situation over here. If you're in Europe right now you would see that all people talk about is the Third World War. As musicians we can use our music to say something about the positive side and hope our message gets through. "(34) Today the track sounds uncannily like the style of 'Enigma' or several other House groups who use a chanteuse reciting over an electronic back-beat. 'Pilots of Purple Twilight' had an insistent energy while the hypnotic sequence of the title track led one into endless corridors of dream music. 'Network 23' was Europa-dance and reminded one that British groups like Ultravox had studied German music closely. 'Remote Viewing' was a lenghty foray into immaculate ensemble playing - soft minimalist repetitions decorated by finely honed synth tones. Released in September of '81, 'Exit' was an innovative album whose sound was at least a decade ahead of the competition.

 

Froese was keenly interested in the anti-nuclear cause and had organised for thousands of copies of 'Exit' to be shipped and distributed free " to different people in Russia, people in the political power structure, in the arts and just to the ordinary Russian people too."(35) Shortly before the album's release the trio had played a special disarmament concert at Berlin's Reichstag in front of 100,000 people. After a tour of Europe and the States Tangerine Dream were back in the studio for what would be their 11th Virgin album White Eagle. A much mellower affair than its predecessor its release in March of 1982 did not cause much of a stir. Full of ethno-Ambient passages much of the record seemed directionless and the melodic material, such as that heard on 'Mojave Plan' and 'Midnight In Tula' , sounded trite. 'Convention of the 24' seemed to return to the insistent urgency of 'Exit' but it was the brief title track which saved the day. A lilting keyboard ballad with hushed, seductive voicings it went on to become the theme music for a popular German TV series 'Tatort'.

 

No sooner was that finished than TG took to the road again. In fact touring and recording was all the group did now. On the road Schmoelling would visit some exotic locations including Athens, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong and Melbourne. Remembers Schmoelling - "It was always a unique way of refilling the empty batteries of our creativity. Every time we came back from a trip we went into the studio and started recording. For myself it was a great adventure, performing in front of an audience in different countries, feeling the emotion of the crowd as they reacted to the music. There are deep memories of concerts and I think you never find as much emotion when you perform in the studio."(36) One of Schmoelling's favourite albums is Logos Live , a very successful recording of a Nov '82 London, Dominion concert which came out at the beginning of 1983. Here Schmoelling's careful approach and the sheen of meticulous interaction could be heard over two entire sides. Sweet soaring melodies were to the fore while the pounding sequences of old took a back seat. Certainly texture and nuance was the key. Schmoelling considers " the live concept and the smooth transition between one idea and the next to be the key to the album's success." (37)

 

Tangerine Dream would be re-united with Michael Mann in Feb 1983 for the recording of the soundtrack to The Keep. A very left-field movie with X-File and supernatural overtones set in Europe during WW2; the plot consisted of a unit of German soldiers taking control of a Romanian village during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. In fact the film was shot in Wales and Shepperton Studios London where Mann was based.Recording was done in Berlin in one month and the sonic results were much better than the film.(The movie lost millions and became an obscure cult yet the music became much sought-after on bootleg until eventual release in 1997 on TDI Music.) This soundtrack was strange,haunting,eerie and very far from the hi-tech sheen they achieved on their Virgin catalogue.In fact if you weren't told it was Tangerine Dream it would be hard to guess. An indication of Schmoelling's growing interest in sound sampling and the quirky movements of automata could be immediately heard on Tangerine Dream's last proper studio album for Virgin, Hyperborea ,recorded in August of 1983. The title refers to the mythological land beyond the cold North wind, an earthly paradise of eternal sunshine. Its classical Greek symbolism and mystical cover shot fittingly recalled the debut Virgin album 'Phaedra'. Symmetrically it also had four tracks played by a trio. 'No Man's Land' was a tour de force of conception full of spirited North African pipe and drum inflections. Its oriental flavour was increased by the use of exceptionally crafted electronic sitar and tabla sounds. With its hazy Moroccan dance feel and use of additive and cyclical melodies 'No Man's Land' was an entrancing nine minutes of luminous Dream music. The title track, 'Hyperborea' proved that nobody, with the possible exception of the old Pink Floyd, could be as grandiloquent in progressive rock terms as Tangerine Dream. A rising atmosphere underpinned by a heavy ticking electronic drum sound set the stage for a stately keyboard melody ringed by heavenly synth voices. 'Sphinx Lightning' returned to the more familiar sequences and extravagant synth patterns and included a numinous flute sound a la 'Phaedra'. Schmoelling recalls the album with joy - " Like 'Logos', 'Hyperborea' was determined by the new generation of digital synthesizers and sampling technology. We were able to memorise sounds and used a lot of sampled drum sounds. We invented new rhythm structures by using a special arpeggiator technique and so on. The title 'No Man's Land' was influenced by the film 'Ghandi' and its brilliant soundtrack." (38)

 

'Hyperborea' was released in Nov 1983 and the following month the group played a special Warsaw concert in Poland, a move determined by Froese's solidarity with calls for democracy in the Eastern bloc. But that was not the end of the Virgin saga for TG still had soundtrack work to do. A new Tom Cruise film , 'Risky Business' needed music and the Dream were to provide the bulk of it with added selections from the likes Muddy Waters, Jeff Beck, Prince and Phil Collins. Again they proved " that they are among the best soundtrack artists in the business with an uncanny talent for flying in the face of predictability." (39) Full of surprises the Risky Business soundtrack which appeared in 1984 revealed that none of spark had gone out of the Froese/Franke/Schmoelling partnership. 'The Dream Is Always the Same' was mesmerisingly hypnotic and if 'No Future' reprised 'Exit' there were plenty of original guitar noise and melodic chordings to please anyone. 'Lana',which reprised Froese's break from 'Force Majeure', sounded like a refraction of American hot-rod guitar music. In contrast 'Love on A Real Train' recalled the trance-music of Steve Reich. Said Froese of his interest in American musical forms -

 

"I guess I have huge American influence. Starting with early jazz, running through Gershwin sometimes even light orchestral music but also including people like John Cage, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Now it's everything from heavy metal to Top 40 radio. If you're in car what else can you listen to? It's the whole environmental sound scenery in the States which actually gives you a view of what happens mentally in the country." (40)

 

Still Dreaming

 

Though a detailed analysis of Tangerine Dream's post-Virgin career lies outside the scope of this essay there are still some salient points worth mentioning. In 1985 Virgin Germany issued the film soundtrack Heartbreakers. In the same year Virgin released a triple album compilation Dream Sequence. Between 1985 and 1987 the entire Virgin catalogue was made available on CD. After leaving Virgin Tangerine Dream went through a succession of line-ups and labels. Near the close of 1985 Johannes Schmoelling was reportedly bored by the album-tour-album routine and left the group to set up his own Riet studio in Berlin. His replacement was a young computer-whiz Paul Haslinger who Froese had met in Vienna. This line-up recorded what still stands as Tangerine Dream's best post-Virgin album in 'Underwater Sunlight' (Jive Electro 1986) which contained the anthemic ecological suite 'Song Of The Whale'. At the time it was noted that Tangerine Dream " had been the world's greatest electronic band for fifteen years" (41)and that their commitment to electronics was singular.

 

Chris Franke, who had been experimenting with modular synthesis, samplers and computer software left the group in 1988 to devote himself to studio-experiment and composition. Today he lives in Los Angeles and is a prolific soundtrack composer. That year also brought Froese back into contact with Peter Baumann who was now based in New York. Baumann had founded Private Music, a label devoted to instrumental music, and signed Tangerine Dream up in the blink of an eye. Commented Froese at the time - " It was a logical choice. Peter and I worked together for about six years and whatever Tangerine Dream wanted to be, he was part of it for a long time." (42)

 

Another computer musician, Ralf Wadephal replaced Franke but he only lasted one album and one U.S. tour. Tangerine Dream were a duo of Froese and Haslinger before Froese's son Jerome joined his father's band in 1990. From being on the group's album covers to travelling around the world with it to being a fully-fledged member must have been some experience. In 1991 Haslinger left and by 1992 Froese had a new Tangerine Dream which again featured Klaus Krieger from the 'Force Majeure' days. Together with a saxophonist Linda Spa, an ex-model from Vienna, and guitarist Zlatko Perica, Tangerine Dream became a more American rock-oriented band, scoring high in the Billboard charts and even getting Grammy nominations. In deference to his sixties past Froese even included a version of Jimi Hendrix's 'Purple Haze' in the live sets.


In their history the most significant aspect of Tangerine Dream was their accessible approach to electronic music. Instead of making a load of unlistenable blips and hisses the Dream invested long and hard in making the sounds human and have worked closely with synth and computer manaufacturers in the development of both hardware and software. Back in the days of analogue equipment their early Virgin tours involved the whole stage full of hefty gear. Said Froese - " When first we performed in 1974 with the Modular Moog system the press ridiculed us. We said at the time that in about ten years everybody would be using synthesizers onstage but they didn't believe us."(43) If the pioneering approach of working on the latest equipment and bringing its sound to the widest audience was a mainstay of the Virgin years and after, Tangerine Dream were one of the cleverest in making it sound emotional and hummably melodic. Commented Froese - " Electronic hardware or software is only a way of transporting things, not more or not less. You should not take your car into your bedroom just because it has brought you a long way to your house. It is nothing you should make more noise about than is necessary." (44)

 

After the rise of Ambient House in the '90s, Tangerine Dream became hip again amongst the youth. Their albums regularly featured in Top 10 Ambient lists in the English music press while DJs sampled choice bits from their Virgin-era albums. In a strange twist of fate Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger formed 'The Blue Room Project' in Los Angeles in 1993 - a sort of tribute to Ambient House group The Orb's famous single 'The Blue Room'. Asked if he liked the new wave of instrumental music Froese answered that it was " symbolic...and a necessity. It's nothing to criticise." (45) Not a man who likes looking back he still remembers the Virgin years with fondness, as a time when brave experimental music could be made and appreciated by millions the world over - " Since Virgin gave TD complete freedom regarding the choice of music, it was possible at any time to experiment beyond all possible borders. The goal and fascination of Tangerine Dream Music was always to create sounds and structures that had never been heard before. The group often succeeded in an inimitable way. A whole generation of pop and rock musicians were influenced by this style a long time before anyone had come up with the idea of calling it New Age Music. The aim of the music during the Virgin period was to paint surreal pictures with musical instruments." (46)


Mark Prendergast , London, c. 1993-1994 Mark J. Prendergast. A version of this essay first appeared in Tangents (Virgin Records CDBox 4 1994) and then again in their slim-box version (Virgin CDBOXY4 2003). Copyright and other Rights asserted on the 21st October 2004 by Mark J. Prendergast.Further copyright notice to new edition above c. 2013, Mark J. Prendergast. No portion of this essay in part or full can be copied,downloaded or used unless the author gives strict permission (all rights reserved.)

The writer wishes to thank the following who helped in the preparation of this essay - Simon Hopkins, Julia Snyder, Edgar Froese, Johannes Schmoelling and Record Collector Magazine. Also thanks to Niall Dew who runs the UK Tangerine Dream Magazine "Voyager" for his valuable documentation.

 

Notes on Sources

 

1. Rich Shupe, Reflex, Vol1,Issue 9, 1988.

2. Miles, tour programme, Jan 1978.

3. In conversation with the writer, Dec 1991.

4. Miles, tour programme, Jan 1978.

5. Pascal Bussy 'Kraftwerk - Man, Machine & Music' (S.A.F 1993)p.40

6. John Schaefer 'New Sounds' (Virgin 1987) p. 6.

7. Interview with the writer Jan 1994.

8. All quotes Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, April 1974.

9. John Schaefer 'New Sounds' p. 9.

10. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

11. Miles, tour programme, Jan 1978.

12.Adapted from Miles interview,NME July 1977

13. Interview with the writer,Jan 1994.

14. Adapted from Miles interview, NME, July 1977.

15. Karl Dallas, Melody Maker,Jan 1977.

16. Laserium press release, Jan 1978.

17. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

18. Miles, NME, July 1977.

19. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

20. Miles, NME, July 1977.

21. Paul Morley, NME, May 1978.

22. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

23. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

24. Elektra/Asylum press release, Sept 1981.

25. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

26. Carrie Rickey, Village Voice, March 1981.

27. Vincent Canby, New York Times , March 1981.

28. Los Angeles Times / Newsweek , March 1981.

29. College Media Journal, April 1981.

30. Elektra/Asylum press release, Sept 1981.

31. John Diliberto, Down Beat, March 1981.

32. Elektra/Asylum press release, Sept 1981.

33. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

34. Elektra/Asylum press release, Sept 1981.

35. Ibid.

36. Interview with the writer , Jan 1994.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid.

39. Rich Shupe, Reflex, Vol 1, Issue 9,1988.

40. Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1991.

41. Annabel Scott, Electronics & Music Maker, May 1986.

42. Rich Shupe, Reflex, Vol 1, Issue 9,1988.

43. Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1991.

44. Rich Shupe, Reflex, Vol 1, Issue 9,1988.

45. Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1991.

46. Interview with the writer, Jan 1994.

 

Virgin's Dream Discography - in chronological sequence.

Phaedra(V 2010 / 1974)

Rubycon(V 2025 / 1975)

Ricochet(V 2044 / 1975)

Electronic Meditation(2401 722 / 1976)

Zeit (VD 2503 / 1976)

Alpha Centauri / Atem (VD 2504 / 1976)

Stratosfear(V 2068 / 1976)

Encore (V 2506 / 1977)

Cyclone(V 2097 / 1978)

Force Majeure(V 2111 / 1979)

Tangram (V 2147 / 1980)

Tangerine Dream '70-'80(V Box 2 / 1980)

Thief (V 2198 / 1981)

Exit (V 2212 / 1981)

White Eagle (V 2226 / 1982)

Logos Live (V 2257 / 1983)

Hyperborea (V 2292 / 1983)

Risky Business (ST)(V 2302 / 1984)

Heartbreakers (ST)(207212620 / 1985)

Dream Sequence(302686 / 1985)

Pergamon Live (207684620 / 1986)

 

Note - Sorcerer (MCF 2806 / 1977) was licensed by Virgin to MCA.

....................

Edgar Froese's Top 11 Virgin Tracks !

 

1. Phaedra.

2. Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares.

3. Ricochet Part 2.

4. Rubycon Part 2.

5. 3 A.M. at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee.

6. Stratosfear.

7. Logos

8. Kiew Mission.

9. Pilots of Purple Twilight.

10. Force Majeure.

11. Tangram Part 1.

...........................

 

COPYRIGHT c. 1993/1994/2004/2013 Mark J. Prendergast