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Tangerine Dream - Machu Picchu CD (album) cover

MACHU PICCHU

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.51 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer
4 stars By this point in their career, the masterful Tangerine Dream have learned how to use electronic equipment that is more modern in a way that doesn't sound awful, which is displayed in full form on Machu Picchu, an ode to the infamous lost city of the Incas. I've never been to the place, but I'd say this album does it justice (based on pictures and video footage I've seen).

Beginning with a moment of otherworldly ambience, in a style that echoes Tangerine Dream's classic era but with more polish, "Caminos del Inca" kicks off this album with the familiar German electronic sequencer groove behind mysterious synth melodies that basically soar into your ears on a delicate breath and seem almost fluffy and bright like the clouds that drift among the Machu Picchu ruins from time to time. The title track amplifies the mysterious quality and adds a majestic, imperial type of groove that portrays great power, although there isn't much change going on in the composition department, it is hypnotizing and sounds surprisingly large.

"Adios a Cusco" has a completely different vibe, being much more playful and sunny sounding with a rather bouncy krautrock type of beat, while still being able to conform to the overall otherworldly larger-than-life mysterious ruins atmosphere. I'm usually never subconsciously inspired to bob my head while listening to Berlin school, but this track definitely does, and seems like it would be great driving music, like Kraftwerk's appropriately named masterpiece Autobahn. This is a definite standout track.

The moderately upbeat tempo of the previous track is elevated on "Tatya Inti" to a full-on racing speed, riding on a hard but breathy percussive beat that pounds on every fourth beat. The heart-racing speed lets up periodically a few times to give way to ethereal passages of heavenly ambience, which adds a nice contrast and moment of reflection. "Rio Urubamba" lets up entirely on the tempo, and consists mainly of a slow but steady tectonic rhythm and glistening bright synth melodies.

The final section, "La Piedra Intihuatana", begins with an ambience similar to what the album had started with, before breaking into a very strong groove that again subconsciously forces me to bob my head to its infectious, unmistakably German rhythm. Another powerful, earthly melody appears that could easily be the soundtrack to standing atop of the ruins and looking downward into the canyons, into the distance at the surrounding mountain peaks, and upwards at the fluffy clouds that almost seem to be within an arm's reach -- a terrific way to end an album themed around such enigmatic, ancient architecture.

Throughout this album, the classic '70s Berlin school style has been fused entirely with the '90s new age electronic style, but it seems that this fusion no longer seems forced and awkward as it had on previous albums like Tyger or Underwater Sunlight, among others. Froese has been doing this for quite some time now and has thoroughly mastered the technique to create an album which has a classic vibe with modern atmosphere, a classic composition style with modern production. Listening to Machu Picchu almost makes me forget that Tangerine Dream had previously released some great amount of sub-par albums. All of the individual tracks on this album run together seamlessly as one, adding to the overall progressive composition feel and really enhances the listening experience.

In conclusion, Tangerine Dream have once again lived up to the high standard set by their (energetic) classic albums like Force Majeure and Stratosfear while Edgar Froese (now in his older years) is able to evolve his style to create something that doesn't sound like a simple retreading of old ideas. The style on this album, much like pictures of Machu Picchu would suggest, is mysterious, but strong and masculine, and very earthy. Basically, anyone who has been a fan of Tangerine Dream should enjoy this album, and though it is slightly different in sound from their "best" albums, it would still be a pretty good place to start in their discography for TD newcomers.

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |

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