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Tangerine Dream - Ricochet CD (album) cover

RICOCHET

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

4.24 | 237 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
5 stars How many albums has Tangerine Dream released in their ongoing four-plus decade career? Dozens? Hundreds? The original T. Dreamer Edgar Froese himself may not even know the total, but this much is true: of all the music the band has produced over the years, this 1975 album is the one I would choose to bring with me into the afterlife.

"Ricochet" seamlessly condenses over 40 hours of live tapes from the classic mid-'70s formation of Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann, back when the trio was (notoriously, in some instances) playing in cathedrals all around Europe. It may well be the quintessential Tangerine Dream experience, striking a near perfect balance between the raw electronic research and development of their earlier albums and the (relatively) more accessible efforts of later incarnations.

In concert, the band displayed more freedom and energy than on their more circumspect studio recordings. Never mind that the audience had nothing to look at except three Germans sitting immobile behind a wall of synthesizers, usually on a darkened stage. A TD gig was designed as more of a treat for the inner mind, which may explain why, unlike the live albums of other bands from the same era, this one plays so well on disc.

It opens with an ominous drone (of course), shifting gradually into something resembling a futuristic march, over which Froese plays his moody guitar riffs and Franke pounds some (acoustic) tom-toms: possibly overdubbed, but real drums nonetheless. Finally, almost eight minutes in, comes the moment of truth in any TD performance, when the sequencers begin to percolate out of the synthetic haze. As always in the lexicon of Tangerine Dream it's a point of high musical drama, and even more so here with the menacing echo of Edgar Froese's PINK FLOYD-inspired guitar wailing in the background.

"Part One" (no other titles are offered) ends ten minutes later on the same fading drone it began with: a nice touch of symmetry in an otherwise improvised set (of course it might have been a conscious afterthought at the mixing console, long after the actual performance). "Part Two" then opens in unexpected contrast, with a gentle piano interlude setting up another, more lyrical sequencer pattern, this time programmed with a definite European-classical sensibility, as opposed to the mundane, rockier workouts of their later Hollywood soundtracks.

Listening to the album again (for the first time in...well, more years than I care to admit) I'm again struck by the fascinating patterns created by the constant blending of overlapping sounds and sequences, often in contradicting time signatures. It's a style this band could have (and in retrospect maybe should have) legally patented. Add a section of industrial noise and rhythm (including a looped mantra of mechanical assembly-line voices), segue into an ethereal passage for mellotron flutes, reprise the opening sequencer theme in a quieter variation, and the result is a stunning musical experience not soon forgotten.

Altogether the album is only 38+ minutes long, meager even by the limited standards of a vinyl LP. But thirty years later it remains one of the uncontested pinnacles of a long and influential career, and even today stands up as a signpost toward more than one musical future.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |

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