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Tangerine Dream - Rubycon CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

4.25 | 839 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Mesmerizing Aural Trip ? Beyond Gadgetry into Art

As a metalhead kid in the 80's, the arch enemy in musical taste was European synthesizer music. By that time, electronic music had permeated the world of pop, and everyone was immersed in the sounds of sequencers and keys. It was not until I started exploring meditation music that I dared to cross to the dark side and accept electronic music as artistic. Certainly, only a subset of the numerous keyboard-wielding acts achieves that goal. Tangerine Dream was the godfather of this genre, and it was only a matter of time before I dipped my ear into their cauldron. And like many others, my first experience of that classic electronic sound was RUBYCON.

TD was past pure experimentation by the time of this album (1975) and had a firm grasp on the tools (both physical and aural) at their disposal. As a result, RUBYCON takes on a sense of craftsmanship and planning despite the band's basic reliance on improvisation. The album clearly has a course, a dramatic contour, a journey through various emotional states. Unlike most meditation music, which is meant to set a tone and maintain it, RUBYCON sets the stage, sitting the listener down into a rich sonic world, and then setting sail through ominous shadow, churning movement, hopeful builds, and quiet melodies.

As a newcomer, some of the simultaneously calming and intense sounds were reminiscent of Pink Floyd. One of the most dramatic sonic effects of Part One is straight out of a Floyd album, and many of the techniques will be familiar to space rock fans. But the ability to create an entire viable musical scene with electronics alone would have been pretty unique at the time. The creation of rhythm with the pulse generator had become TD's signature, and was used as the backbone of the two epics on RUBYCON.

Part two is decidedly spookier than Part One, with simulated bird song on the first side giving way to cat growls on the second. Uplifting synth swells are replaced by weighty ghost choruses on the mellotron. The confidence of a steady rolling train becomes the fear of prey fleeing the predator. A playful volley between major and minor yields to an icy argument between minor and more complex dissonances.

This sense of creating a rich sonic scene, with plenty of emotional variance, is at the heart of all good music. The fact that TD is using a then relatively new set of tools is to me irrelevant. Certainly for 1975, these sounds were still quite progressive. 35 years later, we've heard these elements many many times. But rarely in that time have they been used to such effect. Perhaps if that metalhead wasn't still buried in me I'd give this a masterpiece rating. But as it is, 4 stars is a strong recommendation.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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