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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover

PHAEDRA

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

4.17 | 527 ratings

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Fitzcarraldo
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was TANGERINE DREAM's first album for Virgin Records, and the group's first major success. When it was released in 1974 the novel electronic sound aroused curiosity in the music Press and amongst music lovers, especially fans of Progressive Rock. As far as the often-tuneless electronic soundscapes of artists in the electronic genre go, this album is surprisingly accessible. In those days this sound was exciting and fresh, and the album was a hit in many countries.

The atmospheric sounds on this album were created primarily using Mellotron, electric organ, electric piano and analogue synthesizers (including the then novel Modular Moog). Flute and bass were used too, but mesmerising electronic sounds are the predominant feature (although the haunting, overdubbed flute on 'Sequent C' is notable). There are a wide variety of electronic sounds: hypnotic, pulsing sequencer; ebbing and flowing swooshes that sometimes sound like waves on the shore; droning; warbling; hissing; cawing sounds like seagulls; whistling sounds like song birds. Some say the tracks sound eerie or have a desolate feel, but I don't get the creeps or feel gloomy at all. A sound clip of school children at play is used at the beginning of 'Mysterious Semblance At The Stand Of Nightmares'. 'Movements Of A Visionary', with its hissing and high-pitched noises, does sound a bit spooky initially I suppose, as does the floating flute on 'Sequent C'. The overall effect of the album, though, is very relaxing, particularly if one is mellow.

I'm not a huge fan of the electronic genre, although I do have a few albums and enjoy them. If you only want to buy one example then, in my opinion, this seminal album is the one to get. It really is extremely pleasing and works very well either in the background or as something for chilling out. Some of the solo albums of EDGAR FROESE and former member KLAUS SCHULZE have a very improvisational feel to them but, to me, "Phaedra" feels more crafted and streamlined.

As to the rating, I'm in a quandary. Until a year ago when I bought the CD I had completely forgotten I used to own the LP thirty years ago, so that might indicate the music is not memorable. However, I'm enjoying the CD and, in terms solely of the content, would classify it as at least a 4-star album (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). Given the album's historical importance and the fact that I think it is the best example of this type of music, I also feel I should classify it as a 5-star album (Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music). Anyway, I think I'll be conservative and settle for 4 stars, as there are several other albums I would take to that desert island before this one. Nevertheless, if you're a newcomer to electronic 'space music' you can't do better than this one in my opinion, and I doubt you'd regret owning it. Even the understated cover art, painted by EDGAR FROESE, is pleasing and appropriate. Highly recommended.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |

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