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Tangerine Dream - Atem CD (album) cover

ATEM

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.57 | 307 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
3 stars On Atem Tangerine Dream is still firmly rooted in 'Krautrock,' the musical scene the group help establish - - or more precisely, its spacey 'kosmische musik' variant. And yet there are hints of the kinds of drama that sound well-suited for the film-soundtrack work the band would pursue beginning later in the 1970s.

Half of Atem ('breath' in English) is the title track, whose twenty minutes spans the first side.'Before a minute has elapsed, percussionist Christopher Franke establishes a beat, and a rhythmic Mellotron motif begins, although it's soon overtaken by organ and synth parts that largely ignore the briefly-established tempo and key. Just three minutes into the piece, Franke has abandoned the beat, instead playing rolls and other patterns as the original motif occasionally threatens to surface amid the confusion. An explosion at 5:35 is followed by a collapse to near-silence which marks the end of what most people would recognize as music on Atem. The remaining fifteen minutes of Side One is formless, though pleasant; the piece approaches a crescendo in its final minutes, but never exactly gets there. In the meantime, the piece meanders into incidental-music territory: some passages sound vaguely like film music.

Side Two is somehow even more atmospheric, especially on 'Fauni-Gena' and 'Circulation of Events.' The album ends with the relatively experimental - - and relatively brief - - 'Wahn,' whose first part is a crazed echo of the early going of Side One. This similarity creates a nice transition from the end to the beginning of the album. 'Wahn' is aptly named, as it translates to 'delusion,' or 'mania,' or perhaps 'false hope.' It's disjointed, confusing, manic, particularly in comparison to the LP as a whole.

Interestingly, in the Tangerine Dream discography, Atem follows Zeit. Since the 'basic' German alphabet is comprised of the same 26 Latin letters used in English, A follows Z; the recursion in album alphabetization is reflected in this looping from the end of the second side to the beginning of the first.

I think there's more going on in the 40 minutes of Atem than in the 75 of Zeit, and yet in some way Atem is the less interesting album. Maybe that's because Zeit gives the listener more time to hear between the lines, so to speak.

At any rate, Atem is a good album, albeit not at the level of its predecessor.

patrickq | 3/5 |

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