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Kaleidoscope - Tangerine Dream CD (album) cover





3.05 | 43 ratings

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3 stars THE SETTING:

So I take one look at the album cover, don my crushed velvet loons and kaftan, weave some flowers in my hair and light a joss-stick...

On first listen, this is light, throwaway pop psychedelia, and it's easy to see why it sold in such low quantities - and hence is so incredibly rare. Think of the black and white video of Spinal Tap in their earliest incarnation singing "Listen to the Flower People", and you've just about got it.

So it seems to be a complete joke at the expense of record collectors - because the humour in the delivery seems almost non existent - the sincerity makes your jaw drop, aghast, and the lightweight music makes you think of Barrett Pink Floyd without the overdrive.

But then you listen again, and things start popping out at you. You listen again, and your attention is even more strongly held - and so it goes on. For this is an album crammed with subtleties almost hidden behind songs that border on the twee, but in actual fact are full of poetic depth and disturbing imagery.

In the year that saw "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band", "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" and "Forever Changes" (among others), it's not hard to see how this gem got overlooked.

The character of this album is peculiarly English - in much the same way that "Piper..." is, but different... kind of musty, and filled with visions of middle class Victorian houses with manicured lawns and slightly overgrown borders, tea and cakes at 4, that sort of thing - giving more a warped yet perspicacious view of a solid reality, than some befuddled LSD-fuelled fantasy.

It's not really Prog Rock - but it IS incredibly progressive, even for 1967, when everything was progressive for the time, or so it seems.


The introduction gives little clue as to the nature of the song that will follow; "Relax your eyes, for after all, we can but share these minutes", over an urgent "tick tocking" guitar... but then it all goes kinda Pete Tong. "Kaleidoscope, kaliedoscope, kaleida...". All very quaint and archetypally flower power - and that is it's strength.

The highlight of this track is the drumming, which has some superb "moments", but the overall arrangement is subtle, and the details are easily missed.

But it gets better... Much better. I'd guess the main issue here is that the opening track sets you off in the wrong direction, and every track can end up sounding like a dippy hippy tree-hug fest.

But "Tangerine Dream" is an album to discover, little bit by little bit - you simply need to allow the music to breadcrumb you into the depths of the forest, never to return...

"Please Excuse My Face" is an entertaining psychedelic pop tune, distinguished by the intro, which is remarkably similar to "Old Friends (Bookends Theme)" by Simon and Garfunkel. The open, airy arrangement is pleasing - but there are several songs by Love, The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane that are more imaginative and progressive.

"Dive Into Yesterday" is a lot more like it - possibly because by now I'm longing fo rsomething even half overdriven - with an imaginative introduction, nice drive and odd overall arrangement - largely caused, it would seem, by a bassist who is not too sure of what's happening, man. The riffing is cool, and there are some nice production touches and tangible psychedelic madness. Again, the drumming particularly stands out.

At 2:00 there are references to the lyrics of "Kaleidoscope", maintaining a subtle continuity that is easily missed, and around 2:55 there is a nice surprise - a return to the introduction of "Kaleidoscope", then some nice Floyd style development - along the lines of "The Gnome", but with some seriously odd experimentation on the guitar. The scooping attack on the word "Dive..." gives added propulsion to the most interesting track so far - although why water pistols should be filled with lemonade, and why that shuold interest the jester and the goldfish I'm still not sure...

"Mr Small The Watch Repairer Man" has even more production details verging on psychedelic (reefer?) madness - and quite insane drumming - it's like the stops are being slowly pulled out further and further as the album progressses. The vocals are practlcally Syd Barrett to a T.

"Flight From Ashiya" is much more experimental in terms of structure, with bass pedals a plenty to up the drama - and I get flavours of the Small Faces' "Ogden's Nut Gone", with added Nut Gone... A wall of sound is produced with a jangling Byrds-style guitar propelling the whole artifice in a disturbingly controlled way to the edge of oblivion.

"The murder of Lewis Tollani" begins with a drum heartbeat, then the story is narrated over slithering guitars - this is no ordinary song. For the next verse, the guitars undulate uncomfortably, and pauses add tension to the drama. This use of space in the music is what makes this really stand out.

"(Further Reflections) In the Room Of Percussion" seems like a return to standard song form - I was hoping for some great things from the very talented and precise Danny Bridgman, but this is, nonetheless, an enjoyable but very dark song; "My God - the spiders are everywhere!!!".

"Dear Nellie Goodrich" and "Holiday Maker" are great entertaining and startlingly observant songs, with more hidden depths, and "A Lesson Perhaps" is a poignant story of the King with no Kingdom, told in an appropriate style, with nice Mediaeval-flavoured guitar accompaniement.

But it's the 8:00 "The Sky Children" that I really wanted to get stuck into - all Proggers like the long tracks ;o). This is a strong that's very strong in melody - which is fortunate, as it's also very well endowed with lyrics...

For this song, a lyric sheet is very helpful for the first few listens, as it helps you realise that this is an incredibly well constructed and orcestrated piece, and highlights the main difference between Kaleidoscope and other 1960s psychedelic bands.

As for the bonus tracks, the MONO mixes are nicely dynamic and give a better feel of the impact the songs could have had, but for the competition, "Dream For Julie" (Julia Dream?) is a kind of heavy dance song with some odd jangly arrangements that really work and gives the song an edge that takes it well out of the 1960s and into the 1970s, "Jenny Artichoke" has more of a Rolling Stones jive flavour to it and "Just How Much You Are" is back in the Byrds folky mould - but far more English and genteel, with a wonderful string arrangement and sumptuous, swirling intstrumentation in the bridge.


A wonderful, dreamy set of songs with a surprising bite that passes almost unnoticed on the first few listens. The bonus tracks are a nice addition, but the album is best taken in its original form to get a feel for how it was conceived (bearing in mind that some tracks were recorded considerably earlier than the album recording sessions)

This is not an album for those who want "hits", nor is it one for fans of the impossibly complex or crushingly heavy. It's not even real Prog Rock... although we are talking about 1967 here - so it could be...

Definitely one for fans of psychedelia and particularly for those who enjoy discovering the very subtle - and anyone who's actually managed to read this far - hey, if my rambling has kept you interested, trust me on this - the music is more interesting by orders of magnitude than my rantings...


Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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