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Tangerine Dream - Transsiberia (OST) CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic

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2 stars Disappointed . . .

This was my first Tangerine Dream album, and boy was I let down. I'm sure this was just a low point for them, and they have indeed made better-quality albums other than this, but nevertheless, I figured I would try it out since I found it fairly cheap (now I know why). The music I hear on this release is very bland, stagnant and uninteresting. I suppose electronic music has a tendency to appear that way on its face anyway to some, but I do enjoy and appreciate the good electronic music I have heard. Progressive Electronic, on the other hand, is a realm I still know very little about. In my ignorance, I just assumed I lucked out in finding a good quality album by a highly-regarded band for a good price.

I have since heard other music from this band that I enjoy very much, so I know they have the potential to impress me, but this album was certainly not the time when they would. If you want to get into Tangerine Dream, do yourself a favor and ask the fans for recommendations first before you purchase blindly. That's certainly what I'm going to do from now on.

Report this review (#273996)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sit back and enjoy the ride . . .

Edgar Froese and son Jerome have created here a very pleasant, undemanding electronic soundtrack for an epic railway journey. Nothing particularly adventurous but entirely appropriate for a travelogue and I can easily imagine myself sitting on the train looking out at the passing scenery.

The first three tracks feature the heavy, on the beat thumping drum loops one would expect for the concept, departing Moscow's 'Yaroslav Station' full of energy and optimism, slowing the pace through 'Smoky Karlow', then picking up speed again heading towards 'Siberian Lights'. The longer, slower song in the middle of these three is the more tuneful and varied with some nice piano and organ parts, the other two focus on the various drum loops dropping in and out accompanied by minimal synth sequences and dramatic pads.

This steady progress is unexpectedly interrupted by the 'Jenissei River', a beatless composition with a vaguely spiritual feeling like an organ piece preceding a church service, flowing at its own steady pace at right angles to the railway. Once across though an even more metronomic rhythm resumes with 'Baikal Sunrise', an unvarying two beat drum loop and one note sequence underlying some more unusual and echoing synth sounds suggesting the magical appearance of this immense lake in the middle of Asia, and continues with the relaxed, blissful window gazing of the medium paced 'Samowar Juri' with a melody carried by several contrasting keyboard sounds.

The beat is now dropped entirely for the next three tracks. Some exotic and almost eerie sounds accompany the entrance to the far off city of 'Ulan-Ude' but rapidly morph into a more pastoral atmosphere before changing again to a 19th century classical structure as if the Russian colonists were celebrating the establishment of European culture in this alien place. Moving on into darkness, the super soothing, ambient 'Chingan Night' with its hesitant synth lead and backing choral sounds lulls the traveller into a deep sleep, to dream of the 'Russian Soul' whose weirdly distorted voices perhaps evoke the spirit of this vast landscape, its animals and ancient indigenous peoples rather than the modern inhabitants and western civilisation.

Finally the beat returns but at an almost funereal pace as the journey nears its end at the 'Golden Horn' of Vladivostok on the northern Pacific coast. This idea is only reinforced by the steady tolling of a bell suggesting the end of the line or maybe European society. The experience is over and it is time to return to the everyday world, although with new memories and possibly a few fresh insights picked up along the way.

Overall a worthwhile album, some thought obviously went into the compositions which grew on me with repeated listens and gradually stimulated ideas and images. There was however no progression other than that of the train towards the east. 3 stars.

Report this review (#2202342)
Posted Monday, May 13, 2019 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Ok, this is about a train. A famous one and likely one of the most exciting travels by train that can be done. The album is the soundtrack of a documentary about the Transiberiana, which I have never seen but I guess it should be very interesting from the images point of view.

From the musical side is not as bad as I was expecting. At this point in time TD is a family affair between Edgar and his son Jerome, and having to represent a train makes the choice of the electronic drumming very easy for the first track "Yaroslav Station".

Probably in the "Smoky Karlow", which I think is a city in Poland, the train slows down. The tempo is less "trainful" and the melody is melancholic. Maybe there's a Karlow somewhere else, but looking at some pictures it doesn't look very "smoky". It's very green, instead. I don't think there's any relationship with the Russian ambassador shot dead in Turkey in 2016. Anyway, this track is too repetitive also for the TD standards.

Back on the train for the "Siberian Lights". If I didn't know that's TD I would have thought to Vangelis for the sounds. The tempo is more or less the same of Chariots of Fire and the keys sound very smilar. Luckily the melody is very different and in the end it's everything but bad.

No drums in honor of one of the biggest rivers in the world. Jenissey (Yenissey) crosses all the Siberia south to North to the Arctic Ocean, and the track bringing its name is really beauty. Slow and clam, it returns a sense of quiet maestosity. This track values the whole album.

The Baikal Lake is one of those places in the world that I'd like to see. Iced in the winter but warmed by a volcano in its depth that causes the ice to melt, crash and reform continuously. Unfortunately we are back to the train and the disco rhythm is unable to transmit the right sensations. Of course one should also see the images to find out whether they are well commented by the music, but without images this track for me is a skip.

"Samowar Juris" surely meant something in the movie, but I can't find a reason to dedicate a track to a decorated teapot, even if traditional in the area and probably of great value for collectors. Ok, let's have a train in the wagon-restaurant, but this track is nothing special even if not as bad as the previous one.

Ulan Ude is a city with two faces: I've seen pictures of enormous Lenin's statues together with apparently untouched Buddhist temples. Strange to say, in this album the tracks with no percussion are less boring than those with a rhythm. This one has a symphonic flavor and I can imagine it performed by a string orchestra. Not a masterpiece, but a good one.

"Chingan Night" is another rhythmless track. Chinga is another ig river and in the area a meteorite was found and is now in a museum in St. Petersburg. Funny to say, the word "Chinga" in Spanish slang has a very raw meaning. Google it... Another quite good track, anyway. It makes me remind of "Blade Runner Blues".

"Russian Soul" proceeds on the same territories of the previous track. It's full of "Ooh sounds", I think that with a real soprano it would have sounded much better. Again I have in mind Vangelis and the voice of Vana Veroutis on his Heaven and Hell. Sorry Froeses, but that's another league.

The travel ends when the sea is reached. The "Golden Horn" is a bay in Vladivostok, on the Japan's sea. Very little happens on this track which is good for the end titles.

There's something good so I round up the rating which is a little below the 3 stars but not as bad for 2.

Report this review (#2278022)
Posted Monday, November 4, 2019 | Review Permalink

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