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Tangerine Dream - Paradiso CD (album) cover

PARADISO

Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic


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5 stars Paradise in its musical form

"Paradiso" is the third and final part of Tangerine Dream's trilogy inspired by Dante's "LA Divina Commedia". The previous parts, "Inferno" (a single CD released in 2002) and "Purgatorio" (a double CD from 2004) laid the very distinctive framework on which this epic work is built. When this double CD is taken into account, the whole thing runs to some 5 CDs of absolutely sublime inspiration.

To be clear, this is not the usual Tangerine Dream by any means. Although Edgar Froese and Thorsten Quaeschning contribute keyboards to the album, they are but a small part of what is heard. Froese first and foremost function is once again in the role of composer, arranger and producer.

While this album rightly appears as a live album on our site as it was recorded live in concert, it should rightfully sit alongside its two predecessors in the band's main catalogue. The event was a lavish affair, involving the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra and a chamber choir in addition to six trained vocalists and a narrator.

If you are familiar with the first two parts of the trilogy, you will know exactly what to expect here. Lush orchestration mixes with superb vocal parts in a variety of languages, with swathes of synthesisers providing majestic sweeps of sound. The pace is always serene, regal at times, the work having an overtly classical flavour, but with contemporary rhythms. The track are all long, sometimes very long, each being allowed to develop to the point of realising its full potential. The vocals styles range from a modern rock type on tracks such as "Beyond Sodom and Gomorra" to the pure operatic female vocal on the 13 minute "A Cielo Della Luna". For me, one of the highlights in an album of highlights is the wonderful "L'Era Della Venere" where the vocal performance causes the hair on the back of the neck to stand up.

It is perhaps these operatic pieces which are the most captivating, since the classical vocal style sits perfectly well alongside the synths and rhythms which support it. Among the most effective of these is the wonderful "Transformazione", an 11 minute piece which features great swells of synth and ethereal voices. Those who enjoy the music of bands such as Therion and After Forever, but find that style a little too heavy are well advised to familiarise themselves with this trilogy.

While the album does focus on lengthy voice led arias, there are plenty of instrumental and orchestral passages to enjoy too. Among the highlights of these is the piano recital "No more birth, no more death", a piece which has the simplest arrangement of the entire concert, but which shines brightly among its peers.

There is no doubt that the music here will not be to everyone's taste by any means. Do not come to this album expecting the usual Tangerine Dream, let alone thumping beats or screaming guitar solos. This is an album of astonishing grace and beauty which is as challenging as any prog album, but also as accessible as pop. One can listen to "The divine comedy" on any number of levels, and enjoy it equally on each. That is the essence of a great album, and "Paradiso" is just that.

(A minor blip in the track listing on the cover shows "Jupiter lightning" as the final track on disc one. In fact it opens disc 2).

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Posted Friday, February 6, 2009 | Review Permalink

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