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Tangerine Dream - Encore (Live 1977) CD (album) cover

ENCORE (LIVE 1977)

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.91 | 155 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The year 1977 saw the pioneering trio of Tangerine Dream at the peak of their influence and popularity. So it made perfect sense to celebrate that hard-earned success with a two-disc live LP, recorded in the Unites States over several sold-out tours. Hence the tacky cover art, by the way, with its prominent stars and stripes: in retrospect an ironic image for a band initially formed in reaction against the Anglo-American cultural occupation of their native Germany.

The resulting document, if not quite as concise or creative as "Ricochet" (the Tang's first live album, from 1974), is at least more generous, with all four side-long suites of vinyl fitting snugly onto a single compact disc, in digital form resembling (even if only by accident) a four-movement symphony for electronic keyboards.

Consider it the American answer to the earlier album, substituting a typically Yankee obsession with quantity over a more circumspect European measure of quality (not an altogether unfair exchange, with musicians of this caliber). Looked at from another angle, you might say these gigs found the band approaching some kind of aesthetic fail-safe point, midway between the opposing cultural poles of Berlin and Hollywood: note the evocative Southern California flavor of the track titles ("Cherokee Lane", "Coldwater Canyon", and so forth).

The music is, as usual with live Tangerine Dream, all new, and (mostly) improvised. Attentive fans will recognize familiar themes from recent albums, surfacing at random: some "Stratosfear" here, a little "Sorcerer" there, and on occasion even a genuine melody or two. All of it has the patented hypnotic momentum of classic TD, meditative and galvanizing at the same time. But there's an unsettling suggestion of redundancy lurking just beneath the grooves: a hint that this once- groundbreaking band might in fact have been just past its creative peak. Those ubiquitous sequencer runs and dense synthetic textures were perhaps beginning to sound a little shopworn by 1977, and more than one passage (for example the opening march of "Monolight") clearly anticipates the more conventional sonic landscapes of later TD configurations. Only during the finale of "Desert Dreams" are the band's embryonic Krautrock instincts revived, closing the set on an eerie but effective mood of atonal introspection.

In the end it may be more quintessential than essential (and thus the scrupulous three-star rating), but the album is still a vital memento from the waning days of a now distant analogue age. And it marked the end of what would later be seen as the classic Tangerine Dream line-up. Soon afterward Peter Baumann would defect from the group for the last time, leaving Chris Franke and founding T. Dreamer Edgar Froese to cross the dumbed-down digital frontier of the next decade from an entirely different musical direction.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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