Once upon a Dream…

Once upon a time Tangerine Dream were at the forefront of the exploration of analogue synths in their evocative potential. After the very early days of experimental freakouts, they produced a string of truly stunning albums in the first half of the 1970s: Zeit is a huge universe of cosmic haze, Atem brings images of dense, luxurious flora, Phaedra is sheer poise of obliquity. Rubycon, though maybe too polished and disciplined for its own sake, is still a gorgeous oceanic journey.

It all started getting too busy for my taste around the time of Ricochet: in retrospect, one can hear the early signs of Edgar Froese’s long and painful descent into self-pastiche and new-agey irrelevance. Occasional brilliance would still shine through, but by the time Peter Baumann left in 1977, the plot was lost, never to return. It baffles me to this day how people can become their own opposite over time: nowadays Edgar Froese’s musical output is the negation of his heritage, it takes the meaning of “banal” to a whole other level.

Besides the above releases, TD’s first foray into the world of film soundtracks was a 1977 commission by William Friedkin for his magnificent “Sorcerer”, a remake of the classic “The Wages of Fear”. It was, in effect, the last studio release by their classic line-up of Froese, Franke and Baumann, and it is one of the most potent soundtracks I’ve ever come across in its ability to provide shades of narratives on its own. It is just extraordinarily evocative. Dark, foreboding, visceral, introspective: one can almost taste the human hardship of the film’s narrative.

So today I get the news that Edgar Froese is currently touring the Sorcerer film score. I won’t bother to hunt down a gig, I’ve known for a while that the current Tangerine Dream is a terrible karaoke shadow of its former brilliance; but apparently there might be a CD release with additional recordings from the Sorcerer sessions on its way. Now THAT is good news – provided that Froese doesn’t decide to overdub it with cute sax solos and strident percussion, as he has disgracefully done on other occasions. Here’s hoping.

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