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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover

PHAEDRA

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

4.16 | 504 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars I had a very unconventional introduction to this album and Tangerine Dream about fifteen years ago. I was in a doctors studio, about to have a laser procedure on my face performed. I was slowly waiting for the sleeping gas to take effect on me, and in my drowsy state, I noticed on a nearby bookcase a small stereo system and a pile of Tangerine Dream albums. The doctor noticed that I was looking at them, and he asked would I like to listen to one while I was drifting off. Thinking T.Dream were a blissful new-age band, I said yes and he popped `Phaedra' into the CD player. What hit me as I blacked out was very unnerving, frightening and cold alien horror - not a great way to relax in a very uncomfortable state and unfamiliar location! It wasn't until recently that I (confronted my fears?!) ventured back into the world of Tangerine Dream, so better late than never.

The music on `Phaedra' is made up of sinister and moody synthscapes and electronic drones full of depth and mysticism. The album can be divided into two very different halves. The side long title track, originally the first side of the vinyl, is dark and unsettling, to me the kind of music bad dreams are made of. The second side is comprised of more mysterious, floating and ambient pieces that have quite a different tone. Mellotron features heavily throughout the album, and is alternatively beautiful and terrifying.

Truly the music of strange alien worlds, the title track is cold and unearthly. Maddening looped beats, clinical machine-like textures, very metallic and abrasive. There's occasional warmer tones, but they're used very sparingly. Sentry like alarms bring a heightened sense of fear, harsh electronic effects maintain a dizzying sense of panic that drives you to madness. Heavily processed and monotonous bass punches through, leaving you feeling like you're out of breath. There's an unpleasant section full of eerie effects that sounds to me like tortured animals. Awful and jarring. Throughout the track, walls of ghostly Mellotron choirs try to break through. While they should sound comforting, they're really quite haunting and ominous, their darker tones becoming quite oppressive. It threatens to overwhelm the listener, before a sense of relief is brought about by a very abrupt ending. The title track is a very fragmented piece, highly fascinating, but an alarming and creeping piece of space music.

By comparison, `Mysterious Semblance at the Stand of Nightmares' is quite restrained. Immersive waves of Mellotron play a sheltering and uplifting theme, that also sounds hugely mournful and reflective. Backed by bubbling synths, the piece is slightly reminiscent of `Saucerful' era Pink Floyd. There's a much better sense of flow to this one, and it's more cohesive than the previous track. A brief but lovely aquatic soundscape outro in this one too.

`Movements of a Visionary' begins with unnerving alien chatter. Wordless, howling and hissing voices. It's soon joined by skittering glacial synths and looped trance-line beats. The track becomes a blur of phasing organ that's oddly comforting. It has a grand and majestic sound. Not unlike the more avant-garde moments of the early Floyd albums again.

`Sequent `C' is a somber flute piece, full of echo and delay, with low-key synth backing. It is a beautiful and sad piece, projecting desolation and solitude, all perfectly captured in a 2 minute piece. It very much reminds me of the loneliness and mourning sounds on the first Bass Communion album.

I've really grown to think very highly of this album, even though I prefer the slow, floating and more subtle drifting continuous pieces from Klaus Schulze and the early Adelbert von Deyen albums. Those are albums that I really connect and have huge emotional responses with. `Phaedra' is more superficially interesting to listen to, but I doesn't quite reach me as deeply as those other albums. Perhaps the title track is a little too fragmented for me, as it kind of comes across as a bunch of ideas stuck together - all good separate ideas, though - but doesn't really convince me as being a cohesive whole. But the rest of the album is full of shorter and more concise tracks, well-arranged, frequently emotional and, of course, lost in deep space.

In the end, my fascination with Tangerine Dream officially began here, and I've been looking further into their albums based on what impressed me with `Phaedra' ever since. A wonderfully abstract and immersive album.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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