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Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.32 | 332 ratings

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2 stars The album's title is a misnomer, as the music is not electronic and 'meditation' generally implies tranquil/ambient music, which this assuredly isn't. Rather, Electronic Meditation can better be described as a mix between musique concrete and Krautrock with a psychedelic flavor. However, the album's title is oddly prescient of the musical direction Tangerine Dream would take twenty years later with their New Age-influenced releases.

This album is the result of a 1969 jam session in a factory, recorded on a two-track Revox tape recorder. It sounds like the industrial setting has influenced the music. The owner of record label Ohr was sufficiently impressed by the demo tapes and he proposed to release them provided he could choose the album's title and cover, and this is how Tangerine Dream's debut album unintentionally came into being. Froese later overdubbed some additional guitar and organ for the album release.

At this point, Tangerine Dream's line-up consisted of Edgar Froese on guitar and organ, Klaus Schulze on drums and percussion instruments, and Conrad Schnitzler on cello and violin (ironically, they would all come to be best known for playing synthesizers). They all contribute to the sound effects as well. The line-up would prove to be short-lived, as shortly before the album's release, Schulze would depart from the band, followed by Schnitzler. All three would go on to release numerous albums, with Froese and Schulze becoming leading figures of Berlin School electronica, while Schnitzler found his niche in experimental electronic music and noise music. However, at this point, the three musicians' playing is characterized more by enthusiasm than technical proficiency.

The 2002 reissue of the album listed two guest musicians: Jimmy Jackson on organ and Thomas Keyserling on flute. Jackson, an American organ and piano player who was living in Germany, has played on various early 70s krautrock and jazz fusion albums with Embryo, Amon Duul II/Utopia, and Passport. He also recoded a one-off album with two other Americans living in Germany under the band name Haboob. On future albums, Jackson would be known for playing the choir-organ, an elusive one-off Mellotron-like instrument built in Germany in the 50s that also appears on some Popol Vuh albums. I don't know which parts Jimmy Jackson is playing organ, as Froese is also credited as playing it. I couldn't find much information about flautist Keyserling, but it seems that he was primarily associated with free jazz musician Gunter Hampel and his various musical projects.

Genesis is an eerie track dominated by Schnitzler's cello and violin and by Keyserling's wild flute playing. The first three-quartes of the song have no rhythm, but drums join in at the end and the track ends in a rather abrupt manner while Schulze is pounding the skins at full speed.

Journey through a Burning Brain is characterized by Froese's echoed electric guitar squacks. It features an elegiac organ section in the beginning that is reprised at the end. Other reviewers' comparisons with A Sauceful of Secrets are apt. A psychedelic jam in the middle of the track is reminiscent of Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Froese tries to do a Hendrix impression as Schulze picks up the rhythm to a frenetic pace. The organ, accompanied by flute, closes the track on a somber note, reprising the earlier theme.

Cold Smoke starts with droning organ and violin. The middle of track shifts the mood and is dominated by slow organ and fast tribal percussion. The second half of the track is characterized by furious percussion and fiery guitar. It ends abruptly with the sound of a man gasping for breath.

Ashes to Ashes is a jazzy tune with organ and drums and double-tracked electric guitar, punctured by various squeals, feedback and assorted noises.

Resurrection starts with a church-like organ over which Froese reads with backwards vocals. An eerie soundscape dominated by cello and echoes closes the album.

The backwards vocals are recited by Froese and are in English, not German. Here is the text, which seems to be for a travel application document for the UK: '[...] the United Kingdom. [...] if they want to extend their stay there for longer than three months. It is not required by persons who travelled with this passport. The holder must present this card together with his national identity card and to any police officer in the United Kingdom upon demand. [...] He must also [reproduce visae] in the [graven] officer. If the holder leaves the United Kingdom, a separate card is required for each [journey]. The holder will also be required for complete landing and vacation cards supplied by the transport operator during the journey.'

The album is a historical record of krautrock and sonic experimentation, but it's also avant-garde and not representative of Tangerine Dream's future style. While the music is interesting as an artistic statement, I don't enjoy listening to it. For those new to the band, I would recommend starting with the Virgin years Froese-Franke-Baumann albums (Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet, Stratosfear).

Replayer | 2/5 |


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