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Tangerine Dream - Rubycon CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

4.25 | 846 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'Rubycon' - Tangerine Dream (9/10)

Along with the mechaniques in Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream helped forge and ultimately popularize the fledgeling style of electronic music. Hearing that label now often invokes sickly images of dance clubs, but Tangerine Dream are not to be underestimated, regardless of how this vast genre has eventually degraded. "Rubycon" is held to be the best album by this German outfit, so I've decided to start my experience with them here. Having heard some of Klaus Schulze's solo material before (even though he does not perform on this album), I knew what to expect; dreamy sequencers, spacey ambiance and a general sense of loose composition that never rushes to get anywhere. Granted, "Rubycon" is not the 'space music' standard of perfection I may have hoped it would be, but it stands rightly as one of the best.

Although Tangerine Dream is usually piled in with the progressive rock crowd, their approach is fairly different than the grandeur and bombast we typically associate with the 70's prog era. A quick comparison could be drawn with some of Pink Floyd's early stuff, but the fact remains that they stand far apart from flagships like Yes or King Crimson. Although it may have been Eno who coined the 'ambient music' term, Tangerine Dream was already on the bandwagon. Although the sequencers occasionally loop around an idea, the glory of "Rubycon" lies in its atmosphere.

There is no percussion, and very little guitar work to speak of. One can imagine a room packed with keyboards where they recorded this. As such, "Rubycon" is a very quiet record, reserved, but rich with texture. Particularly on the second side of this record, Tangerine Dream evoke the sort of microtonal 'chaotic' sound that I normally associate with my favourite neoclassical composer, Gyorgy Ligeti. It's not difficult to imagine a scene from Kubrick's 2001 set to the music here. Tangerine Dream often flirts with the prospect of background music on "Rubycon", although there's always enough going on with the texture and gradually evolving compositions to keep a listener involved, so long as they're in the mood for it.

A listener's enjoyment of "Rubycon" may weigh heavily on their mood while listening. It's certainly not a record for all occasions. Depending on how open a listener is to relaxation, it's either an exercise in tedium or transcendental trip through space. Compared with other albums of its style, "Rubycon" is graced with an improved sense of composition and flow, among the best I've heard in space music. It may have a tendency to fall into the background, but "Rubycon" is a stunning piece of sound.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |


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