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Tangerine Dream - Livemiles CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.32 | 61 ratings

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4 stars LIVEMILES gives the listener two extended pieces from two 1980s concerts. I'm a major- league Tangerine Dream fan, and have been following the band since their 70s heyday. Like many prog fans, I prefer the spookier and "hallucinatory" early albums to their output from the 80s and onward, but I can still find plenty to enjoy in latter-day TD. This CD is such a case. With band founder Edgar Froese, plus Paul Haslinger and Chris Franke on stage, this is not the classic lineup, but it's still a worthy version, and this trio makes some fine electronic music.

The sound is updated with the changes in technology, and the music typically has more energy, along with sections of real beauty, than the old stuff had. That change in sound and feel might be a negative thing for some of their followers from the 70s, but I'm open to it. Bands that stay in one place musically, and continue to release "new" material following a set-in-stone starting template risk stagnation and becoming caricatures of themselves -- buy one or two albums, and you've basically bought them all. TD under Froese were not content to keep reworking former glories. They kept moving musically, and long-term fans like myself can always revisit the early works when we want a fix of the old freakiness.

LIVEMILES' first selection, simply entitled "Livemiles Part One," was recorded in Albequerque, New Mexico, during a 1986 North American tour. As is normal for the band's live performances from this era, much of the music is improvised on the spot (some sequencers and stock motifs are also employed), so when you hear TD live, you are hearing something new and unique -- you won't already have it back home in a studio version. This extended piece covers many musical moods and textures throughout its near-thirty minute stay, from slow and haunting at the outset, through up-tempo and uplifting, on to driving and percussive, to grand and majestic at the close. It makes a fine soundtrack for a scenic drive, reading sci fi or fantasy, or simply drifting and daydreaming.

The second track (aptly titled "Livemiles Part Two") dates from a 1987 open-air concert in West Berlin's Republic Square. This show was held in honour of that historic city's 750th anniversary, and the heightened emotions associated with the event really come through in the music. Here we have a well-loved German band playing in front of a German audience in a city that has seen so much: from the triumphant to the tragic, from the medieval to the ultra-modern, from the War to the Wall to its fall, from the darkest depths of evil, suffering and degradation to the brightest heights of artistic expression and thought. I can't help thinking of all of that as I listen, because Froese, Franke and Haslinger rise to the occasion, and give their countrymen music that is truly worthy of its setting. There is great tear-wrenching sorrow, joy and sublime beauty in this dynamic and evocative piece, along with sub-currents of darkness, and strains of hope, power and progress. I find it to be quite moving, especially when I let myself ruminate upon all that Berlin and its citizens have seen through the ages -- nothing less than the very worst and the very best of human experience.

Of course, you don't need to ponder all of that weighty stuff when you listen to this disc. After ali, it's just music, not a history lesson, and the music is more than able to stand on its own, independent of time and place. As with all TD music, LIVEMILES lends itself to multiple "uses," from focused listening, to an aural backdrop for your book, day, night or life. An excellent album.

Peter | 4/5 |


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