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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover

PHAEDRA

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

4.17 | 731 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TCat
Prog Reviewer
5 stars To me, the best way to listen to this album (and many of the best electronic albums) is when you are not in a hurry, you can empty out everything in your head and you close your eyes and let your mind take you on a journey which is influenced by the music you are listening to. It's like a mental piece of art that your mind is creating and it will be a different experience for everyone that listens because your mind travels to places based on your experiences, no matter how far out there they may be. It is a great experience when you really listen and let your mind go with it.

From the other reviews on this album, it seems like a lot of people do this, and then describe what they felt or experienced. When I read some of them, I think, wow that is a completely different interpretation than what I had of that piece of music. But that is the beauty of it, everyone sees and hears things differently. In reality, electronic music is just sounds made by an artist by manipulating a machine, computer or instrument and sometimes a combination of these. An expert musician knows how to get the sounds and tones out of that machine in the best way possible. Sometimes they are trying to make a specific feeling and other times it is just improvisation. This may make it sound like electronic music is something that anyone could do, but this is far from the case. I have heard much electronic music that sounds completely amateur and just plain bad, and I have heard a lot of it that is beautiful, flowing, harsh or whatever, and it sounds like it is done by a capable artist.

No doubt about the fact that Tangerine Dream's performers are artists, especially on this album. Sounds swirl, cascade, float and drop into the picture with hardly any warning. To a casual listener, there may not be a lot of forward movement or progression in the sound, sometimes even from one track to another. That is why this music demands to be heard by being listened to. Yes it works well for background music for studying or whatever, but it's best use is by really listening to it. You can hear melodies that come to the foreground which to a casual listener may not seem apparent. You hear sounds that create pictures in your mind, repetitive sequences or loops or just random sounds and movement. These work together to paint pictures and moods, albeit mental, but there all the same.

Many people say that this represents a change of sound for TD, and a lot of this is probably because this is the first time the artists featured what would become their sequence driven sound and would also have more structure as a result. Instead of having a more random direction, the music starts to move forward with a purpose. The first track is the 17 minute long title track which is based on an improvisation that was recorded by the band earlier. For a large part, this track is improvisation with direction. Some of the changes in the sound came about by accident through the recording of the piece because of flaws with the musical equipment, but it ended up giving the sound more structure and direction. These flaws would later be used to the artists benefit. This is mostly a free flowing track that has many changes throughout that may be only perceptible by really listening. There are places were rhythm is introduced and then taken away again. You will hear bass in this track and throughout the album which is also done electronically through a Moog Sequencer. Apparently this instrument was very hard to tune and they spent many hours just to get a few minutes of bass sequence.

The 2nd track is "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares" and was created only by Edgar and his wife. It was done in one take on the Mellotron. In it, you can hear some semblance of melodies come in and out of the picture and there are many other pleasant sounds and sequences that were all created in that one take. Quite an amazing piece of work for something done without editing. Edgar says this is exactly as it sounded when he played it in the studio the first time. Next is "Movements of a Visionary" which starts out with a series of eerie sounding noises and continues like that for a few minutes. Rhythm is finally introduced and a melody line comes in with a nice organ sound. There really is nothing melodic about it except for the organ which never really picks up a theme, yet sounds melodic anyway. This is mixed in with the rest of the sounds so that you may not pick it out if just casually listening. The last track is a short ambient piece.

Overall, this is a very amazing listening experience. Also, TD was using new equipment at the time unlike anything out there. This was the main driver along with word of mouth, that made this album so successful, even without any radio airplay. It still stands as an essential and historical recording as it will pave the way for electronic music's future. The sound created here appealed to the public back in the day, and even today you can listen to it even without mind altering chemicals in your system and still be taken away by it. This is definitely an essential masterpiece of an album especially when it comes to progressive electronic music and is also on the list of 1001 albums to listen to before you die. It stands up there with the rest of the most influential progressive albums in history and rightfully so. This is why it gets a five star rating.

TCat | 5/5 |

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