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Tangerine Dream - Atem CD (album) cover

ATEM

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.59 | 289 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Lost in a mythological jungle forest

3.5 stars

As the final TANGERINE DREAM studio album for the Ohr label, "Atem" ("breath" in English) marks the end of their ambient "kosmische musik" era. It is also the first appearance of the mellotron, and of Jerome Froese, Edgar's son, on the cover. After this opus, the Germans will make an important usage of sequencers. Whereas "Zeit" was a soundtrack for the interstellar void and eternity, I would describe an "Atem" as a wandering into an ancient jungle, with its hidden temple, vegetation, fauna and inhabitants. The music reintroduces percussions, rhythm and a bit of melody.

The title track can be divided in 3 parts. The thundering overture evokes the building of the pyramids or a ritual to venerate a mythological god. Epic! The theme resembles a little CLUSTER's "Im Süden" from the "Cluster II" album, released one year before. A coincidence? The middle part is much more calm and very ambient, nothing really "happens". My least favourite passage. The final part is darker and more intriguing, like if you were exploring the tunnels of the sacred temple.

With its flute and mellotron, "Fauni-Gena" makes you wandering into a mystical forest. You can hear the fauna with various tropical birds and insects sounds. The threatening "Circulation Of Events" indicates the presence of hostile creatures. The end of the track contains the first use of a sequencer for TANGERINE DREAM. You finally arrive in a village of natives with "Wahn". This ender is the most surprising moment of the record, as it features strange voices and shouts by Froese et Franke. The verbal exchange becomes more and more violent, percussions appear, until the trippy mellotron finale. The dream is now over. Maybe all this was just an illusion ("Wahn" in German), between two breaths.

The Esoteric 2011 CD edition contains a bonus disc featuring a remastered version of a show given in West-Berlin November 29th 1973 and an illustrated booklet. Entitled "The Deutschlandhalle Concert", the music is fully improvised, in the ambient style of "Atem", maybe more cosmic. The sound quality is very good.

The famous BBC DJ John Peel declared "Atem" as his favourite 1973 album and regularly played it on radio. This unexpected promotion made the german band known by a larger audience in England, and sign their first contract with the new label Virgin.

Like its predecessor "Zeit", you have to be in a particular context to appreciate "Atem", and listen to it in one go. Not really accessible, even for TANGERINE DREAM lovers of the mid-70's "golden" era, this fourth studio album is however an essential listen for "kosmische musik", experimental or ambient music fans.

Although marking the end of an era, "Atem" also shows glimpses of the future to come...

Modrigue | 3/5 |

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