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Tangerine Dream - Stratosfear CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.95 | 523 ratings

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3 stars The release of Stratosfear marked a slow but steady transition in Tangerine Dream's career towards new frontiers. Just like many other bands before and after Tangerine Dream, the unexpected rise in popularity gave the band an opportunity to tap into many new directions and sounds that gradually became available to them with every new technological improvement. This time around the technology didn't seem to give enough new interesting ideas for this collective and so the band looked, once again, back in time for inspiration. Which resulted in sounds of the more traditional instruments like the 12 & 6 string guitars, Grand piano, bass guitar, Mouth Organ, Mellotron, and even a harpsichord made their scattered appearances all over Stratosfear.

Unlike the previous albums that featured at least one lengthy 15+ minute composition, Tangerine Dream seemed to be strategically moving away from this format, on this release, which might seem natural from a perspective of trying something different. Generally this is probably one that quality I consider that the band had actually pulled off superbly on Stratosfear since every one of these four composition could have easily been expanded to extreme proportions. Instead, Tangerine Dream wisely restrained from doing so and cherished the wonderful moments that each of the tracks offer. But ultimately this album still doesn't get beyond the stage where I can piece the moments together into a complete picture which results in me never being quite satisfied with this final product.

Things get off on a great start with the album-titled composition giving us, the listeners, a clear melody to hang on to but also adding on many underlying patterns which make the composition much more versatile than the first impression might suggest. Still, it seems to me that the band got a bit carried away with the track arrangements towards the middle section and things suddenly don't feel as impressive as they first seemed to once the melodies become too dominant and static for my tastes. Luckily the music doesn't get tiresome over the first 11 minutes and I can swiftly transition into the album's biggest highlight.

The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades plays a bit like a compact epic that begins and ends on a very distinct melody while the short middle section of the piece is much more atmospheric. This is another clear moment where Tangerine Dream could have exploited this opportunity to th fullest but instead crafted a composition that showed us that electronic music can be just as effective without completely relying on the extended track format. This concept unfortunately doesn't feel as clear on 3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee since this track sounds to me like a brief return to the early ambient territory that the band uncovered with their albums that culminated with Phaedra. It would have been much more impressive to hear a short track of about 4-5 minutes in length achieving a likewise result instead of this unnecessarily long experiment.

The final track titled Invisible Limits is another strong performance most notable for Edgar Froese's addition of distinct electric guitar sounds. Unfortunately the excessive use of sequencer sounds feels a bit overdone to my ears especially compared to the contrast of the low-key acoustic arrangement that we are met with right towards the end of this composition. This clear lack of smooth transitions definitely takes a toll on my appreciation of the final product.

In the end, Stratosfear is a step in a new direction for the classic Tangerine Dream lineup showing that the band was clearly trying to uncover some new ground without loosing their past glory. This is unfortunately what makes this album not as interesting as the recordings that were leading up to this moment. Add a few sloppy inconsistencies and we get a good, but non-essential release for fans of progressive music.

***** star songs: The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades (4:29)

**** star songs: Stratosfear (10:37) Invisible Limits (11:25)

*** star songs: 3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee (8:49)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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