Sunday, 7 June 2015

Becoming lost in a (Tangerine) Dream

Journeys of discoveries are largely started by accident.  A little errant thinking, the wrong step the wrong way, a tap on the shoulder - hey - look at me?

In May 2015, at the ripe age of 56, I stumbled on a new journey. I was a poet in a former life and I was searching for something by Edgar Allen Poe, and this YouTube Video popped up onscreen, The Island of the Fay by Tangerine Dream.  I had no real idea who they were, just recall hearing the name back in the 70's at parties, but no music.  So what's a man to do?  Yep hit Play!!

Now for the next 1 hour plus I was utterly mesmorised.  I love music, any music, but I also love electronic music and classical music and Tangerine Dream meld both.  Seductive, alluring, moody, upbeat at times, rock, soft, soothing, has it all.  Now being a Dreamer convert, I had to search out other albums for my listening pleasure, which entailed a Google search for a discography.  What happened next opened up a whole new world for me.

Tangerine Dream had been in action since 1969, producing over 100 albums, over 60 of them movie soundtracks.  And that's not including their live performances readily found in YouTube.  The band is simple prolific.  And original.  Some may hear in their early stuff the likes of Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, but in reality both these guys sound like Tangerine Dream, the forerunners of electronica.  I have now listened to about 30 of their studio albums, and a few live concerts, and also several soundtracks, and I don't think I have found one I dislike.

But I will offer a note of caution here.  Post mid 80's their sound got meatier and more rich and bassy.  The early stuff is very much haute couture for the day given the technology in the instruments but there are some interesting sounds from that period, one just has to persevere through the experimentation (as die hard Pink Floyd fans had to pre Dark Side of the Moon).

So what makes Tangerine  Dream really stand out? For me is the originality of all the songs.  One could be forgiven for thinking that with over 100 albums in 46 years a band would make a lot of repetitive music, repeating chord progressions, copied melodies, pieces that sound like other pieces from their catalogue.  Sure at times the sound may seem familiar but that's more down to the genre than the music scoring.  Tangerine Dream simply do not repeat, regurgitate, nor recycle.  They play fresh ideas and fresh themes, so the listener just does not have the opportunity to become bored with it all.

If I were to pick favorites they'd have to be (in no particular order) Mars Polaris, The Island of the Fay, Finnegan's Wake, The Angel at the West Window, Hyperborea, Thief, Legends, the UCLA Concert and the London Eye Concert. But all are very good.

I play nothing else now.  I have them going through the stereo at home when working.  I have them on when I go to sleep, I have them on my phone in the car.  I am now and forever a hopeless Dreamer.  Long may it last.

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