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Tangerine Dream - Hyperborea CD (album) cover

HYPERBOREA

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.46 | 152 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

russellk
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Half a great album.

This album is cold, hyper-cold. Chilling in its clarity, the band chop up sounds into miniscule blips and arrange them in mind-bendingly complex ways. If their previous music was gently falling snow, this is hail rattling on the roof. I find the first three tracks individually magnificent, an encouraging return to form for the Dreamsters. However, the final, side-long track, 'Sphinx Lightning', is very stale. TANGERINE DREAM somnambulance.

'No Man's Land' kicks off the album in fine style. Sadly neglected, I hear in this landmark track the precursor to the blipbeat techno 'pioneered' by AUTECHRE ten years later. TD abandon the dreadful programmed drums of previous albums and instead opt for world sounds: Caribbean-style steel drums, sitar and a host of chattering polyrhythmic sounds cut across by plaintive bird-call synths. Possibly, along with 'Cloudburst Flight', the very best thing they ever did. I'm absolutely addicted to it.

The title track is by contrast a sombre, sparse affair, suggesting a calm night in the sub-zero Arctic. Yes, the drum machine is back, but it's smothered in a layer of ice, reduced to deep thuds and rumbles. Gorgeous tunes drift across the bleak synths, melancholic enough to melt the most frozen heart. FROESE smears some liquid guitar over the second part of the track: why he was so sparing with this instrument, issuing entire albums with no guitar at all, is beyond me, given the splendid way he uses it. Funny, isn't it, how the band were at their most evocative when they weren't writing soundtracks.

'Cinnamon Road' may be the most commercial track they'd done to this point. Short, snappy and with a real melodic hook, it's catchy enough to round off the side with a satisfying finish. I do enjoy the way they've played with the echo on some of the sounds.

The fly in the ointment is the side-long 'Sphinx Lightning'. It has neither the energy nor the presence of the first side, and is merely an exercise in repetition. They must have thought they had this 20-minute track thing down pat, but they missed the mark here. Ugh, those drum loops! I look for evidence of beauty, energy, avant-garde experimentation and pulsing rhythm in a TANGERINE DREAM epic. In my opinion this has none of those qualities. Not entirely bad, just not in the same league as the material on the rest of the album, and not a patch on epics like 'Force Majeure' and 'Magical Meridian'.

This album was their last before they departed from Virgin, heralding a new era of new-age music and soundtracks. I see very little of merit in their 80 or so issues since this album. I'll review a few of them, but in my opinion the essential TANGERINE DREAM period, opened in 1970 by their debut album, ends here.

russellk | 4/5 |

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