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Tangerine Dream - Atem CD (album) cover

ATEM

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.58 | 207 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Atem' - Tangerine Dream (6/10)

Although most of Tangerine Dream's work (and much early electronic music) evokes the lonesome atmosphere of outer space, "Atem" takes the band's longwinded explorations down another route. Although the palette of sound used here is not far flung from what would be heard in the band's music throughout the early-to-mid seventies, "Atem" takes a less cosmic approach to the sound, instead conveying a sense of twisted natural tranquility. From a sonic perspective, it is on par with much of the band's classic material, drawing upon the themes widely introduced in "Zeit" and condensing them a bit. As promising as Tangerine Dream's use of sound here is however, I'm left feeling the same way I do with many of their albums; the sound is interesting, but the compositions unfortunately aren't.

Perhaps I'm alone in feeling this, but "Atem" does not give me the impression I'm out alone in space. The sense of loneliness is still certainly evident in the longwinded, quiet sound, but the moog synthesizers have been toned down in exchange for earthier-sounding synths. As a result, I'm left feeling like I'm lost in the surreal woodlands out of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 'Mellow' is not really a word to describe "Atem"; the music is incredibly reserved, but it stays rather cold and even unsettling. Perhaps the greatest strength of "Atem" is its effective use of silence. It seems strange that I might cite a lack of music as an album's greatest strength, yet the fact that there is rarely an overt sound or lead gives a foreboding sense that would have lost its potency had Froese and co. riddled it with dense sound.

Details are a big part of "Atem"; whether its the quiet chirping of distant birds, or a subtle synth texture, there is a deceptively large amount to take in and digest. It's unfortunate, then, that on the whole, "Atem" ultimately leaves a cold, unfeeling impression. Only moments tend to resonate with me; the ritualistic and percussive album intro stands tall above all else. Like most of the album's strengths however, these sparks of brilliance never seem to develop into anything substantial, made only more disappointing by the fact that the track lengths offer more than enough room for them to have accomplished it. The second half of the twenty minute title track consists of little more than bristling ambiance amidst the statuesque silence. It's an interesting sonic experiment, but not one that feels entirely successful.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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