Tangerine Dream - Atem CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.59 | 219 ratings

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4 stars Fans of Tangerine Dream will forever wonder and debate how the band got from the abstract cosmic Kraut of their beginnings (the "pink" years) to the pulsating trances of Phaedra. Atem is the last album of TD's pink period and it doesn't offer much clues, neither did the 1973-recorded (but 1986-released and 1986-tampered) Green Desert.

Back in 1972/1973, Christopher Franke hadn't got his hands on a sequencer yet so he still features on the drums here, not the simple back-beat kind of beat that they would use on their tepid 80's albums but wild and furious percussion, almost arrhythmic and random. It can be admired during the majestic opening of Atem and later on in the album on Wahn. I would guess Pink Floyd's Ummagumma has been a huge source of inspiration here.

The opening minutes of Atem have always been amongst my favorite TD moments (this was one of my first LPs actually). Those dark and crushing mellotrons simply can't be resisted. The remainder of the track didn't do much for me though, and it's only in more recent times that I got into the droning, chilling and unsettling emptiness of the remaining 15 minutes. The lesson being, never give up on an album. Especially not on a good one!

Fauni Gena is another longtime mellotron favorite. It's similar to the more melodic and accessible Mysterious Semblance on Phaedra. But the tone is bleaker, more mysterious and more cosmic. Froese's second solo album (Epsilon In Malaysian Pale) offers more of this type of floating mellotron soundscapes. The austere darkness continues on Circulation of Events, a piece heavy on organs, puzzling synth sounds and processed guitar pulses. Wahn means "delusion', "phantom", "fallacy" in English. That kind of sums it up.

Concluding, there is one link with Phaedra, and that's the huge creative energy that both albums testify off. After my long journey with this music I now find this the strongest of Tangerine Dream's early albums, even beating Zeit. Needless to say this must be played in the dark at maximum volume and listened to with fully focused attention. There's a reason why Tangerine Dream was the loudest band on the planet.

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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