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Tangerine Dream - Rubycon CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic

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4 stars This is yet another great album by Tangerine Dream. It is a bit more tranquil this time around as opposed to Phaedra but there are moments where it picks up tempo. The latter half of part one is yet another set of pitches and rhythms that I belive pretty much define the Ambient Techno movement of today. The middle section of the Second part is also very spacey and incredible. The tranquil parts are again in this album somewhat dark with very dissonant sounds. They seem to be very masterful at beautiful dissonance and it shows on this album also. If this were any other band I would give this album a 5 as well but it isn't quite as exciting as Phaedra with it's heavy mood swings so it gets 4.5 stars. This is a great buy you won't be disappointed!
Report this review (#32479)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really. This album is another step in the metamorphosis of the somber electronic music catarpillar into the symphonic butterfly that will unfold its wings with Ricochet and soar high in the sky. What you had heard in Phaedra is now evolving with even more superb ambiances (some references are made to 2001 Space Odissey and Ecoes of Floyd in the quieter moments) but now is more evident that their wider success comes from something else . About six minutes into the first number , comes something unheard of since their second album Alpha Centauri : a rythm track - alhough there had been hints of that in the predecessor. Don't get your hopes up to high (or do so whichever way you look at it) but this an electronic rythm done by phasers and sequencers (hardly news for a teenager nowadays but back then....) and this attention is constantly drawn by the suddle changes of this rythm. In the following albums however more and more acoustic instruments (notably drums by Baumann) will make appearances in their Oeuvre but this will also always be respectfull of their electronic art. With this album T D come in the court of not only the artistical giants but also in the court of the successful prog giants. I know of only one album even more breathtaking in this musical direction , and that is A Rainbow In Curved Air (1969!!!)rom another master and genious Terry Riley. Both absolute masterpieces even if nowadays , they do age gracefully but they still do not sound dated (to me anyway).
Report this review (#32480)
Posted Monday, September 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars No point in being vague about Rubycon, it is perhaps TD's hidden jewel of the Virgin recording era. Part one for me just shades, debateably a more ambient and inaccessible album than Phaedra. It continues where Phaedra left off but does not quite have an air of authority like Phaedra, hence four stars.An excellent forgotten diamond of past shades.
Report this review (#32481)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Rubycon" is TD's sixth album, the second released for Virgin. It is the continuation of the style they first deployed on 1974's successful "Phaedra". The album is divided into two 17- minute-long parts, both pieces develop intriguingly and unfold like beautiful flowers.

The first part begins with dark ambient sounds over which TD start to play various synthesizers and mellotrons. The music is stunning: it flows like a river, it takes you on a journey, you feel as if set adrift on the oceans of imagination. The music develops into a climax and then suddenly stops for the deep bass sound to enter with eerie effects and the journey continues. The bass pulsates slowly and strange synthesizer sounds flow to and fro, like shapeless animals somewhere in deep space. These amoebic sounds lead to another climax with the pulsating bass picking up momentum and becoming more and more dark. Sporadic piano stabs give the music specific spooky atmosphere. Percussion adds to the pace of this piece and then the music slowly flows away with the pulsating beat ceasing into oblivion. The piano stabs go on and on and the whole track fades out.

The second Part begins with horroric, flowing sounds which continue ca 4 minutes, when the fast-paced pulsating beat (exactly like the one from "Part one") kicks in. It sounds magnificent and it sucks you into a tunnel of sounds with an eerie, eastern-flavoured melody line which swirls from side to side while the electronic beat goes on and on. This is gorgeous!!! More dynamic than the first part, but certainly of the same origin. The beat fades into the sounds of waves, it makes you feel as if you emerge from an ocean of sounds! Then, a flute solo by Peter Bauman solemnly and melancholically concludes the album. With the final tones of the, now alone, flute you feel you need nore of this W-O-N- D-E-R-F-U-L music, yet this album is far too short... That's the only flaw of this album. Apart from that it is A MASTERPIECE!

Report this review (#32482)
Posted Monday, September 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1975's RUBYCON provides more mesmerizing "music that melts" from German keyboard trio Tangerine Dream's classic lineup of Froese, Franke and Baumann. While somewhat less memorable that its predecessor PHAEDRA, this album is nonetheless a very important one among the band's 70s output.

Some -- especially, I suspect, younger and newer listeners who are used to more dynamic prog -- will find this music to be "boring." There is some validity in that viewpoint: this is not music that lends itself well to being "front and center." RUBYCON, and others of its ilk from TD's early incarnation, certainly does not "grab the listener by the ears," or demand your undivided attention. Rather, this is true "mood" or "head" music -- the ideal aural ambiance for unwinding and laying back on the couch with your eyes closed, as you let the soundscapes gently wash over you. As I said in my review of PHAEDRA, you can also stare at your lava lamp (turn it on first, though -- you'll get better results), read, make love, and/or snooze with this on. If you don't pursue any of those "activities," this is probably not the stuff for you....

For all other fans of classic 70s keyboard music and/or "new age," RUBYCON would be an excellent addition to your collection of mood-enhancing music. But remember: it's for the couch, not the car!

Report this review (#32483)
Posted Thursday, September 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3 stars for the unique atmosphere! This one would have made a real good horror movie soundtrack. The bottom of the beat is the strongest one in electronic music history. This music is simple, but it is quite scary. It starts with an apocalyptic mellotron and suddenly the beat gets in, threatening, aggressive and never dull. The end is absolutely scary, with a sea shore effect supplied with bizarre birds-like sounds. It would have been perfect for the Hitchcock's Birds movie!
Report this review (#32486)
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For a long time this was the only Tangerine Dream album I knew, and approaching the other records felt difficult. I think it stands as a monolith between their more archaic and mystic earlier recordings, and leading the way towards future of more clean and easlier sequencer-dominated records. On "Rubycon" I believe these both elements unite, and offer a ride for a surreal, simultaneously soothing and oppressing dreamlike voyage. In the end and beginning of the album there are calm flute driven spaces of dream, which encircle a more troubled sounding longer middle part, rhythmed by sequencers, and occupied by atonal sea of howling voices at the very center of the suite, starting side B-side of the vinyl. I would suggest this album for anybody who is interested on emotional music of great quality, and meditate this in the peacefulness of the candle lit night. I believe that the title name comes from the ancient Roman history, the Rubicon being an Italian river on which shores some Julius Caesar had the die been cast. The records following this album have some good moments in them, but I haven't found anything really impressing from them to me, unlike in the early records which are mostly fantastic. Them I would recommend for fans of ambient krautrock and ethereal cosmic music.
Report this review (#32487)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rubycon starts off with a cacophony of sounds and low key noises, a super sonic sub- space sort of sound, if such thing exists. But if it does not then exist in the metaphysical world it certainly might in the electro world of the Tangerine Dream. Once adapted to the zig zaging mayhem that starts this album up it then launches into a massive beat and a dark and menacing riff explodes and whips up a frenzy of electronica I had never witnessed or heard before. As an introduction to a full Tangerine Dream album I was pleasantly surprized by this turn of events. Not a million miles away from what Pink Floyd laid down on Meddle especially "One Of These Days...". Rubycon is a towering album, not one to judge the Tangerine Dream gang as a whole but a step in the right direction.
Report this review (#32488)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another classic follow up from it's successor Pheadra. Rubycon keeps the same nice and spacey sound, I sure this album has more mellotron, actually flooded with mellotron, in my opinion this is not bad as I love the mellotron.

If you liked Pheadra you love this too. Rubycon part 2 is my favourite and worth a listen to . I'm sure KRAFTWERK and TANGERINE DREAM were battling out in 1975 who did the best electronic album, only history will tell, I definetely recommend this album 5 stars all round.

Report this review (#36545)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I remember when I first listened to this in 1985 feeling that it was all a bit cold - and 'interesting' rather than moving. Having dug it out again in the last 6 months I was surprised by the emotional impact of many sections. Beautiful, wistful, propulsive. It really does repay repeated listening. It is the small details that bring it to life. Many of these can go unnoticed at first. SEctions that sounded a bit mechanical increasingly reveal a keen aesthetic sensibility with each new listen. It might start out as background music but in the end will reward really close attention and carry you along.
Report this review (#39962)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a true masterpiece. Although not as complex as earlier works like Atem and Zeit, it is simply - melodically speaking - a beautiful and hypnotic album. Personally I think Part 1 is the highlight. It is one of the very few albums in history that I think works well at being background music, and at the same time can be said to be a true work of genius.
Report this review (#43587)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In light of 1974's release "Phaedra" which is considered by many and including this music lover as one of the most critical pieces of electronic music history, "Rubycon" deserves a close second...very close. As always I am totally listening to this album as I review it and must say that it too is an unbelievable recording. 1975 line up was Edgar Froese (Mellotron, guitar, synths), Chris Franke (moog synths, organs, piano, assorted synths) and Peter Baumann (organ, assorted synths and pianos). The end result are 2 epic tracks that will you're your mind into another dimension. Without a question this is the perfect headphone experience album and is a complete journey with swooping electronic landscapes, pulsating beats, deep analog hums and PINK FLOYD'esque structures. Absolutely essential recording from TANGERINE DREAM and is still one of my most played electronic albums ! .
Report this review (#57212)
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Between 1974 and 1980 TD released their - IMHO - best works in a continuum of discovering of new sounds, research and development of the possibilities that the new machines allowed, and last but of course not least huge tons of musical talents in the compositions and arranging of the general background.

In fact I love all the music they did in that period but of course the intensity of the affection to each album is different. That´s the reason why I find the 5 stars rate slighty limited to fullfix in every dimension the note for the albums reviewed.

I say these things because at least 4 of the albums in that period deserve in my opinion the five stars. There´s is no other way of marking differences between them than rating "Rubycon" as 100/100 on the hundred percent scale.

For me this is the capital work - together with Timewind that curiously is also of 1975 - of the electronic music and each and everytime I hear it I realise how good work this is. An obscure work, obsesive ambients - a good horror movie soundtrack like other reviewers have said - and the perfect mix of the better of the technologies they dispose at that time. Yes there were the mellotrons but mixed with the new sequences obtained of the evolution of the modular moogs. There were organs and piano and overall there were the inmmense talent of a perfect trio of musicians that took the genere to a new dimmension.

If you´re about to explore the progressive electronic you must take a listen to this one, relax and let yourself go. It´s only 37 minutes but the journey returns each and everytime you start the spin. An absolute masterpiece. Enjoy

Report this review (#70552)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars "Part 1" opens with haunting sounds off in the distance that get louder after 2 minutes. It sounds like sea gulls 3 1/2 minutes in with mellotron to follow. We start to get a beat or pulse 7 1/2 minutes in as spacey sounds continue. A more aggressive sound arrives after 10 1/2 minutes that reminds me of PINK FLOYD. Percussion sounds before 12 minutes. It starts to calm down after 14 1/2 minutes.

"Part 2" is darker and more haunting. The mellotron 3 minutes in sounds awesome ! It sounds like a thousand lost souls crying out. Ok maybe "awesome" was the wrong word. It is such an eerie section. We get a beat before 5 minutes as spacey sounds continue to sweep the soundscape. Organ before 11 minutes followed by waves after 12 minutes. It's spacey again 13 1/2 minutes in to end it on a brighter note.

I really like the dark and haunting mood they bring out on this album at times. A solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#94159)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Similar to Phaedra in many ways, but also slightly more accessible. There are more recognisable musical themes running through Rubycon than its precursor.

I can't separate the two in terms of which is my favourite, except that Phaedra introduced me to the band and a whole new type of music, wheras Rubycon built on those foundations. I only ever bought one more TD album (Ricochet).

Rubycon is still in my collection, albeit now in CD format. So I guess it must still mean a lot to me even though it doesn't get playerd that often.

Report this review (#105045)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have no doubt this is Tangerine Dream's best effort, an absolute forerunner of things to come many, many years later. Most people say that Kraftwerk's best works (from Autobahn to The Man Machine) represent the real breaking point in electronic music, foreshadowing new wave and electro pop. However, Rubycon, in my opinion, does more than that, displaying such intense soundscapes which pave the way to to the whole techno-trance movement in the 1990s (by chance, in Italy we call it "progressive techno"...). The beauty of this album comes out of a peculiar contrast: even if it has less improvisation than Phaedra, in Rubycon the band manages to develop a freer, more liquid form, coherent but also abstract and deeply imaginative. The two tracks inside the album feature the same structure, that is, they are subdivided into three "movements". Part 1 starts with an extremely slow cadence supporting a polytonal melody and shaken by strange synthesized noises; than the music flows naturally into the second movement, depicting through mellotron chords and synths imitating seagulls a spacey seashore. You really get the impression you are travelling, when an astounding passage, rich in suspense, leads you to the third movement, where we can find the typical TD rhythm patterns, underlined also by a synthesized percussion which sounds as recorded twenty years later! Part 2 starts as a tribute to Pink Floyd's Echoes, of which TD take and recreate the central section. An impressive passage with choirs "a lŕ" Ligeti opens the second movement, with fast and hypnotic rhythm patterns - sequencers are here used at their best! Finally the soundscape takes us back to the seashore, with the sound of waves, a fascinating buzzing synth and flutes which create lingering melodies, never solved and therefore... extatic! I consider Rubycon a masterpiece, and I have no fear in giving it five stars.
Report this review (#107169)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I feel love!

This was the first album I ever bought by the Tangs. After the groundbreaking innovation of the albums which preceded it ("Atem", "Phaedra") "Rubycon" comes across as rather a lazy effort. Perhaps the band were simply taking a well earned breather.

The album consists of two pieces each lasting about 17 minutes, and occupying one side of the LP each; both are made up entirely of synthesiser instrumentals. The two sides are very similar in structure, to the extent that at first they may appear to be mirror images. Each starts with an ambient procession of spacey sounds which swirl around in waves of synthesisers. This leads into a far more structured trance like section with a strong rhythmic basis.

The foregoing may seem a smidgen negative, which I have to admit is unfortunate as this is a fine album. The music here is simultaneously relaxing, dynamic, and rewarding. It must be remembered that although the soloing synthesiser sounds which dominate the album may now sound prosaic, at the time they were still relatively unique and unexplored. The rhythmic sequencing which prevails for about 50% of the album laid the foundations for a whole generation of dance music (like it or not Georgio Moroder, producer of Donna Summer, must have been an ardent fan of the Tangs!). In essence, this is where prog and trance come together to find their commonality.

Like the Ozric tentacles who followed them many years later, Tangerine Dream hit upon a formula here, which they would go on to exploit on many subsequent albums. The never ending list of albums by the Tangs which appears on this site is testimony to just how easy it was for the band to create albums at will. The challenge is therefore to separate the wheat from the chaff. To exploit the analogy further "Rubycon", is not only most definitely the wheat, but also the source of the seeds.

By the way, there are many stories and legends relating to the Rubicon river in Italy, dating from Roman times. I guess it would be fair to say that after crossing this Rubi(y) con, Tangerine Dream never did go back, but fortunately, neither did they disband the army.

Report this review (#126154)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This beautiful sonic landscape is filled with waves and layers that combine together to forge an immense tapestry of electronic movement. Within the walls of this music is a fascinating and immense structure, a journey into the farthest, oldest depths of the Universe.


Imagine a planet in the farthest reaches of unreachable uncharted space. The journey begins with mysterious swells and bubbly sounds, as if there is movement in this ocean for the first time. The first part of Rubycon details a growth, or a creation; an evolution in and on a planet. Here, represented in the slowly unfolding waves of pure music, life itself is moving forward, creating itself unendingly in the form of the Cosmos. On this barren world, blue from its old dying sun casting itself across the landscape, there is little life. Once the bubbles and layers of the first six minutes pass by in an aural dream, a dissonant synth wave flows above the listener's head. As if the planet and space itself are warping, a very thick and rhythmic bass line evolves from the fog. Small pangs are heard, as if the essence that the listener is observing is slowly ascending into space, farther and farther from its home. The music is slow to evolve, but it does so in such a precise, cold, and calculated manner. It is perfect for the harsh loneliness of space; one can easily envision a long, silent journey through the interstellar emptiness when this music is playing. As the sound begins to oscillate and shift from left to right, a vague sense of music is ushered upon the listener, now deep in a state of imagination and voyage. The waves gain speed and volume, the layers of synth increase in their breadth, and percussive sounds are added to the bass. This once benign voyage across an imaginary planet has turned into a journey, a cosmic voyage. The listener is now hurtled into the vastness of space, passing planets, stars, and whole galaxies. What can only be described as a dark feeling of dread now surrounds the music, as it delves into Part II.


Now, after a long time voyaging through the vastness of black space, one makes landfall on another planet, perhaps, or finds a deep and previously unknown trench deep under an ocean. Here the land (or creatures!) is foreign and cold, the feeling of the music purely evil and primal in its evocation of fear. The synth is so masterfully controlled as to sound like a train's whistle blowing across thousands of miles, distorted by space and the composition of the land. Mellotron choirs, dissonant and minor, pierce the ears of the listener. Clouds of dread surround the music, the atmosphere a massive, climbing dark feeling of vastness. After four-and-a-half minutes of dread and despair, the music begins its motion of forward movement again. Perhaps the fear has been overcome, and has been replaced by a fascination with this new world, this new plain of existence. The music becomes to perfectly robotic, yet flowing; these simultaneous qualities combine to create a sort of anthem dedicate to science itself. Perhaps in this sudden appearance of a progressing line, an extension of the earlier bass theme in Part I, represents the rooting of life on this new planet. The life grows, as represented by the music, and achieves sentience after billions of years. The soundscape slowly devolves and dissolves until only the faint waves of the ocean, perhaps of the cosmos itself, awaiting these scientific, thinking beings, remains. It is as if the music laps upon the shores of the listener's mind, imploring it to come out into the farthest reaches. In the last section of Part II, an eerie dissonant theme yet again emerges, perhaps as more new and frightening places are discovered by this new and beautiful thinking civilization. It is overcome once more, though, leaving a heavenly synth and flute combination to totally round out the album. It ends on a note of hope, as if the Universe is spiraling toward some beautiful and great destiny.

I speak of many things in space, but this album could easily be about the deep ocean, or really anything else that allows one to go on a journey. More than anything, it may turn out to be an "inner" journey, of self-discovery. That said, it's pretty obvious that I regard this album very highly; almost on a philosophical level, even. Sheer beauty and innovation combine here, in 1975, to create a truly unique genesis of sound. This album is life itself.

5/5 stars, and a formal order to find it and purchase it.

Report this review (#139185)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars In my opinion, Rubycon is the pinnacle of Tangerine Dream's achievements in electronic music, surpassing even the wonderful Phaedra. Over the course of its two side-length tracks, Rubycon provides a little taste of everything that we've come to love about the band. There are dreamy synthesizer washes, dark and broody ambient bits, pulsing electronic rhythms, strange sound effects, even Ligeti-like vocal harmonies. It's as if the band had collected everything they learned from their previous albums and summed it all up in a single concise piece of music.

Some people complain about the length of Rubycon, which barely tops 30 minutes. While I can understand this complaint, I don't agree with it. This type of electronica is wonderful, but do we really want to listen to it for a whole hour at a stretch? If Rubycon were stretched out beyond its natural length it would quickly become tedious, and I personally feel grateful when a band knows when to quit, rather than trying to pank as many minutes onto an album as they possibly can.

I would recommend Rubycon to anyone, whether they are new to the band, long time fans, or even people who just show a passing interest in electronica, without hesitation. It is quite simple one of the best examples of analog synthesis avaailable.

Report this review (#141718)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The sister album too Phaedra, sounding very much like the titletrack from phaedra. Cosmic space music with great beats. This album like many early TD albums sound pretty scary and creapy, i often take this with me in my CD player when i go out for a night walk always giving the feeling theres something evil lurking in the shadows or even an alien invation goin on maybe, thats how this sound. Very alien and wierd but on the same time it sounds like proto dance music. This is one of the best TD albums and an album i loved on first lisen and still never gets tierd of, 5 stars. A masterpiece of progressive electronic music.
Report this review (#162012)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The follow-up to the ground-breaking 'Phaedra' is a little underwhelming in comparison, but has aged somewhat better.

The album seduces the listener with seven minutes of delightful ambience before bringing out the industrial pulse sequencers, and just like the audience at their live shows, we cheer as the blips start. Clever idea, that, prolonging the tension. Those of us in 1975 keen for 'Phaedra Part 2' resist the temptation to shift the needle forward and wait - and finally they appear. They're a little less visceral here, the whole feel is more pastoral and less industrial than their previous album, though the first sting at 10:35 is a surprise! Gradually, in the manner of a post-rock track, the sound builds into a crescendo, to die away again after 12:30.

Organic and mechanical sounds combine here in a winsome blend. Witness the synth flute near the end of Part 1, a simply gorgeous denouement. More than anything, this is a band maturing compositionally. (This, of course, makes their subsequent issuing of a plethora of formulaic albums all the more reprehensible.)

Unlike previous TANGERINE DREAM albums, Part 2 continues in much the same vein, combining elements of their avant-garde ambience and their new-found rhythmic and melodic chops. There are no simple ambient or experimental tracks: for the first time everything is combined into a delightful melange of pulses and patterns, with interesting variations on the pulses always enough to sustain one's interest. Variations on a theme, that's what TANGERINE DREAM are about here.

Like Easy Livin', this is the first TANGERINE DREAM album I bought. Immediately I had to have Phaedra, the only other TD album available. Of the two I liked this one the most back then, but I have to say I find Phaedra more compelling now.

Report this review (#168269)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Miles ahead of Phaedra and definitively my favorite Tangerine Dream album. I can´t explain what is it about this album, but every time I listen to it I always seem to find something new that I hadn't heard other times. Very weird music indeed. As with most TD albums, it consists of a single piece entitled Rubycon which lasts for some 36 minutes giving the music a free, continuous feel. I won't bother trying to describe the sound of the piece since it's abstraction puts it beyond logical description. Rubycon is the kind of music you listen while sitting alone in silence and forgetting about the motions of the world around you. Beautiful music. Wierd, but beautiful. And I don't usually give five-star ratings unless it's a very special case, but I can truthfully say this is one of them.
Report this review (#171034)
Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars This Tangerine Dream album sends me directly to sleep; perhaps that is what it is intended to do. It certainly isn't progressive rock! What I hear reminds me of Meddle from Pink Floyd ("One of These Days" and "Echoes" comes to mind especially) and "The Waiting Room" from Genesis. Yes, the musical textures and technology may have been unexplored at the time, and this album no doubt influenced another generation of music, but that doesn't entreat an audience with me. This album can really be soothing, and I can see it is doubtlessly a great work to those who enjoy this form of music. Seriously, if prosaic were nickels, this album would be Scrooge McDuck. Perhaps more intelligent musical critics can hear things I cannot, but for me, this is one of the most boring albums I have ever heard.

"Rubycon (Part 1)" Haunting, dramatic synthetic sounds wash through the listener's ears in the beginning. Bird-like sounds enter some time later. At just over seven minutes, a low repetitive rhythm comes in.

"Rubycon (Part 2)" Meandering and ghostly sounds make up the bulk of the first five minutes of the second part. Another repetitive electronic rhythm enters. Later, oceanic sounds pervade with more B-movie horror sounds.

Report this review (#219685)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars TD built up on the great waves of ''Phaedra'' and generated a superb ''Rubycon''.

I believe that in terms of melody, beautiful spacey keyboards and wonderful atmospheres, ''Rubycon'' is the best that the band has (and ever will) produce. It is possible that this album speaks more to old freaks as I am that on the younger generation, but I can't help: this is electronic music at its high.

Even if I hardly concentrated while listening to this great album in '75, I remember that it was always a pleasure to hear these fabulous moments. Of course, some of these belonged to the early Floyd repertoire and even if some might argue that the lack of lyrics could hurt: I never felt this. I have always been charmed with the utmost beauty of this album.

Side one has always had my preferences; but there are hardly any weakness here: the whole is just fantastic IMHHO. The way was paved with ''Pheadra'', and the band just adds another gigantic stone to the building.

Although I have listening many times to this great albums for the last ten years, this review is very much sentimental and is a clear picture of what I felt while discovering it almost thirty-five years ago. The band crossed the border of the Rubicon while releasing this album; it was quiet daring a project but the result is fabulous.

''Rubycon'' is a jewel, really. At times, magical. What else can I say?

A divine recording? Probably?

A memorable album? Probably.

Five stars? Yes!

Report this review (#221183)
Posted Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Tangerine Dream, Rubycon, 1975

I type the first words of this review with the exquisite sound of Rachmaninov's Trio élégiaque no. 2 in D Minor coming from the speakers, fluent piano lines meeting expressive violin and cello effortlessly. It is a truly incredible piece of music. The thought that this piece, so far removed from the one I'm reviewing, suggests is this:

Firstly, that beauty is not made more beautiful by isolation; the lush, watery, wordless landscapes suggested by the astounding playing of Valeri Grohovski on piano are interwoven with brooding, pensive reflection and defiant outcries from the violin and cello over a jolting piano theme repeated and developed to draw out its character, offering that central beauty an even greater power than it would have when relieved of its daring surroundings. In fact, these surroundings have a beauty of their own to appreciate and grow to love.

Such is Rubycon... at its heart a compelling and evocative classical title: the implications of Rubycon are not just its historical significance, the moment when a King by any other name takes a rotten democracy and replaces it with a golden tyranny, the triumphal opening of Western Civilisation proper and a violent, bloody aftermath, a slaughter nullo discrimine of sacrificial victims for progress; the implications of Rubycon are much deeper even than that: it is a choice made against all your conditioning, breaking the sacred and the moral to become your own person, making a decision which cannot be reversed, 'The awful daring of a moment's surrender, which an age of prudence can never retract.'

The title of Rubycon and the music which evokes it thus conveys to me not only the grim nature of death, battle and hostile Mars, but also the beauty and sacrifice of creating your own identity, of doing something truly momentous and the sacrifice, the darkness and the loss of the main theme adds to the surreal beauty of the album and vice versa. The two, good and evil as we men can understand them, are companions in a sense, trapped together in the logic of the universe. Anyway, that is what an appropriately momentous name choice and appropriate accompanying cover art can add to music.

Rubycon is a swirling, scarcely describable cauldron of moods; weeping, echoing mellotron, active, heady, fired up VCS-3 synthesiser, mournful, cautious and low piano, modified ethereal guitars and keys of all descriptions. All these add up to create one unique, evocative musical image and a memorable, creative and deeply emotional piece of music. There's no division of pretty and dark music here, and the overall effect is incredible.

Well, from the analogies you've perhaps got a basic understanding of why I like both Rachmaninov and Rubycon, and even if the analogy is a little sketchy, I guess it's meant to say that the same lonely and communal beauty and strife and complexity and simplicity can be recognised in both in different forms, and if you hold any admiration for the sheer expressiveness music can accomplish, then, whatever musical styles you adhere to, and whatever instrumentation you usually appreciate, Rubycon is a record you should not be without.

Rating: Five Stars, 15/15 or something like that. Really, ratings are meaningless for this kind of music.

Report this review (#227550)
Posted Sunday, July 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even more than their groundbreaking 'Phaedra', its 1975 sequel defined for all time the classic Tangerine Dream sound: urgent, overlapping sequencer rhythms, typically bookended by nebulous pre-New Age soundscapes, and underscored by Edgar Froese's unique touch with a Mellotron. For better or worse, the success of both albums ('Rubycon' was a UK top-ten hit) helped to shape a revolution in modern rock.

But the difference between them is striking. The music of 'Rubycon' was, as always, based around long electronic improvisations, but with a stronger, more confident sense of structure, slowly building in each long, self-titled track to an actual climax and resolution, dramatically so when stretched to seventeen-plus minutes. Even better, the trio had finally mastered their new equipment (the sequencer tuning was somewhat insecure on the earlier effort), and the driving momentum of each section, together filling both sides on an entire vinyl LP, is still nothing short of exhilarating.

And yet I suspect some fans would rather skip the ambient introductions and cut straight to the rhythmic chase, parts of which were actually excerpted (foolishly) as a 45 rpm single when the album was first released. But the scale of the music, and the interdependence of each chapter, can only be appreciated when heard without interruption.

Witness the spine-tingling moment near the six-minute mark in 'Part One', when the drifting meditative daydream slowly becomes an ominous deep-space nightmare, just before the sequencers kick in with their usual dynamic flair. Or the soothing transition to Mellotron flute at the end of 'Part Two', gracefully ending an otherwise turbulent piece of music on a palpable note of relief.

In retrospect it would be the last of Tangerine Dream's truly experimental albums, albeit far more accessible than anything from their previous, so-called Pink Years (compare it to the often atonal minimalism of 'Atem', recorded just two years earlier). And the band's next effort, the fan-favorite 'Statosfear', would carry them even closer to the symphonic prog mainstream of the mid-1970s.

Worldwide success and a string of quintessential albums would follow. But this was Tangerine Dream at the peak of their electronic inspiration.

Report this review (#246983)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is difficult to make a first rating in a new genre; especially, one like progressive electronic which is distant from the closest touchstones in other genres. As a result it is hard to put in perspective where an album should fit relative with its peers. That is the position in which I find myself when reviewing Rubycon. As a result my review feels personally biased. Thankfully reviews can be edited.

With that said, Rubycon is a sublime album. It is evocative of motion from the rhythmic base tones and wide sparse landscapes from its vacillating upper reaches. Overall the feeling is like riding a train through a vast shifting desert. Through the circling sands mirages, often haunting, are glimpsed. The train makes at least on extended stop in the middle and we are left a dark and disquieting station watching the shapes in the wind. The terminus for Rubycon is the coast of a rolling sea. I've had the fortune of travelling through Northern France the best imagery I can conjure for this sea is not unlike the Channel coast when socked in with fog. There are no bright colours everything feels chilled and damp. In the end of Rubycon, there is no comfort.

Rubycon is terrific in both the exalting and terrifying sense. Rubycon seldom gets too slow and by the same token neither is it bombastic. All the same it does not make for a light listening. I highly recommend this album. It has opened my eyes to the beauty of Tangerine Dream and to the possibilities of the progressive electronic genre. I give Rubycon five stars.

Report this review (#265141)
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mesmerizing Aural Trip ? Beyond Gadgetry into Art

As a metalhead kid in the 80's, the arch enemy in musical taste was European synthesizer music. By that time, electronic music had permeated the world of pop, and everyone was immersed in the sounds of sequencers and keys. It was not until I started exploring meditation music that I dared to cross to the dark side and accept electronic music as artistic. Certainly, only a subset of the numerous keyboard-wielding acts achieves that goal. Tangerine Dream was the godfather of this genre, and it was only a matter of time before I dipped my ear into their cauldron. And like many others, my first experience of that classic electronic sound was RUBYCON.

TD was past pure experimentation by the time of this album (1975) and had a firm grasp on the tools (both physical and aural) at their disposal. As a result, RUBYCON takes on a sense of craftsmanship and planning despite the band's basic reliance on improvisation. The album clearly has a course, a dramatic contour, a journey through various emotional states. Unlike most meditation music, which is meant to set a tone and maintain it, RUBYCON sets the stage, sitting the listener down into a rich sonic world, and then setting sail through ominous shadow, churning movement, hopeful builds, and quiet melodies.

As a newcomer, some of the simultaneously calming and intense sounds were reminiscent of Pink Floyd. One of the most dramatic sonic effects of Part One is straight out of a Floyd album, and many of the techniques will be familiar to space rock fans. But the ability to create an entire viable musical scene with electronics alone would have been pretty unique at the time. The creation of rhythm with the pulse generator had become TD's signature, and was used as the backbone of the two epics on RUBYCON.

Part two is decidedly spookier than Part One, with simulated bird song on the first side giving way to cat growls on the second. Uplifting synth swells are replaced by weighty ghost choruses on the mellotron. The confidence of a steady rolling train becomes the fear of prey fleeing the predator. A playful volley between major and minor yields to an icy argument between minor and more complex dissonances.

This sense of creating a rich sonic scene, with plenty of emotional variance, is at the heart of all good music. The fact that TD is using a then relatively new set of tools is to me irrelevant. Certainly for 1975, these sounds were still quite progressive. 35 years later, we've heard these elements many many times. But rarely in that time have they been used to such effect. Perhaps if that metalhead wasn't still buried in me I'd give this a masterpiece rating. But as it is, 4 stars is a strong recommendation.

Report this review (#270853)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars For this album, TD took everything that was mesmerizing about Phaedra, added emotion, simultaneous feelings of comfort and danger, and took away the lack of a true meaning to the piece. It feels like meditation and/or mental hot tub music, only with a sense of discomfort. But it's perfect...this sense of discomfort is never emphasized too heavily, and neither is the feeling of the opposite.

Judging it as a progressive "rock" album is completely unfair and unacceptable. This album is genre-free. You can't just label this type of music into a genre. It's simply above that. If you haven't heard this yet, just stop reading this and buy the thing.

Report this review (#278247)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars While Phaedra paved the way for the electronica genre for decades to come it wasn't the most consistent release out there. As much as I love the concept of that release there is no way for me to look past certain limitations of that 18 minute electronic epic. Luckily it only took Tangerine Dream just over a year to perfect the formula with the release of their followup album Rubycon!

In many ways Rubycon can be put off as just a clone of their previous masterpiece since it features the same basic structure where the music builds up slowly through layers of synthesizer sound with sequencer effects added to it all from the middle section and onward. But if you actually look at electronic music from that perspective then you're doomed to failure because the '70s equipment offered a limited range of styles and sounds which inevitably would come off as sounding very similar. Instead it's those little enhancements that make Rubycon the true masterpiece of electronic music.

The music featured on Rubycon Part 1 offers the listener a smooth flow of sound making each transition feel perfectly executed without distracting the listener from the hypnotic feel of the music. The tone of this epic track might not be as dark as Phaedra but that doesn't mean that it's any less ambitions instead those minor sound enhancements and structural arrangements that actually make me enjoy this composition even more than its predecessor.

Rubycon Part 2 opens on a very haunting note but eventually begins to pick up the pace towards the 5th minute where the sequencer sounds kick in. It's true that this continuation of the Rubycon Part 1 sounds exactly as such without adding anything truly earth-shattering into the mix, but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Just like Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick - Part 2 or Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells part 2 the composition offers us a feeling of completed journey once the music fades out towards the end. This is something that Tangerine Dream's Phaedra, or ELP's on Tarkus for that matter, didn't achieve and instead relied on a few lesser tracks to fill out the record space.

I guess that Rubycon is to me what Phaedra seems to be to most Tangerine Dream fans and historians. Still, judging from the rating difference between these two albums, I'm far from the first person to award Rubycon the highest honors proclaiming it to be the essential piece of Progressive Electronic that all fans of progressive rock music should experience.

***** star songs: Rubycon Part 1 (17:21)

**** star songs: Rubycon Part 2 (17:34)

Report this review (#288445)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Tangerine Dream never got better than this. All the albums up to this point were a search for where they wanted to be. On Rubycon they found that place. After this they wanted to make some money too, but you could hardly accuse TD of "selling out". Even their '80s music was more adventurous than most of the stuff coming out of that decade. I'm an analogue synth junkie, and by that I don't mean I inject synthesizers into my arm, I just love the way they sound. Especially the monophonic ones; once polyphonic synths became popular in the late '70s, keyboardists started playing synths like they were organs...and the music suffered because of that, IMO. Here they use EMS Synthi & VCS3, Moog and ARP 2600 synths. In addition, there is Mellotron, organ, electric piano and guitar. I can hear what sounds like a drum machine as well, but this could just be a programmed sequence of one of the synths(even though drum machines were being used as early as 1971).

Part 2 has always been my fav...this would make great Halloween music, especially the first few minutes. The modified Mellotron choirs sound creepy, and by creepy I mean *awesome*! Froese's guitar played backwards sounds really good too. That's the thing about this album that seperates it from what came before: it sounds like they tried to make a whole album and not just release some improvisations they recorded. The sequencer work here is a vast improvemnet over Phaedra, where they sounded like they were literally trying to figure out how to use their new toys.

The mix of gong and sequencers on Part 1 is nice. The bird-like noises mixed with the atmospheric synths and 'Tron always reminds me of walking on the beach. I truly think this deserves 5 stars and shows TD at the point in their career where they left behind the pure experimentation(Zeit), but before they wanted to make more accessible music(Cyclone). A happy medium if you will. If you are not into instrumental music that can be spacey and trippy on one hand, rhythmic and slightly melodic on the other, then this is probably not the album for you. For those who absolutely love Symphonic Prog, you should probably try Force Majeure first. Big lovers of the Metal subs and Heavy Prog probably won't care much for anything TD did. But everyone else should give Rubycon a might like it.

Report this review (#304106)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cannot find the correct words to express how beautiful RUBYCON is. Yes, even with all of the electronic keyboards and sound effects running rampant through the 35 minute piece, RUBYCON is a thing of beauty. It seems as if PHAEDRA was the training ground for Tangerine Dream to create one of the best pieces of music that hardly sounds dated despite its synth experiments.

There aren't tracks in the typical sense of the term, so it's really hard to explain what the highlight moments are, so forgive the rough descriptions. ''Rubycon, Part 1'' has a simulated choir sound somewhere in the first 1/3 of the piece that strikes the right chords with me. It's simply stunning to put it loosely. But TD know when to get interesting and send a trancy theme out there that simply stuns and mesmerizes. It's easy to get lost in this if you let your mind go free and simply soak up the atmospheres here.

Somehow, there's a second ''Rubycon'' part that outdoes the first one. After about four minutes of suspensful setup, the trancy theme is already coming that's faster, more intense and better than the trancy theme of the first part. It has the right amount of changes to be very interesting, but they're not rough enough to the point where if you're still in a mesmerization phase. The ending is also well done with the sole piercing line is left behind. A thing of beauty.

If you're willing to drop every notion of what music is, eliminate the requirements of a full band (i.e. having drums, bass, guitars, etc.) and just let the music focus on you, RUBYCON is one the best experiences one can have while listening to music. I can't think of many albums that are better experiences than this.

Report this review (#308465)
Posted Friday, November 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unbelievably 'Rubycon' sold less than 'Phaedra' from the year before.

Clearly, this is a superior album in every way possible and is without doubt the best Tangerine Dream album available. It's a dark throbbing mass throughout most of its duration and is entirely electronic.

Goodness knows how folk were aware of this in the mid 70's with just radio, television and a few music papers to promote this into the album charts. Doubly so, considering there were no singles released from it.

Peaking at number 10 in the UK in 1975, this album is awash with deep analogue synths utilising a much heavier and darker version of Klaus Schulze's output of the same era, of whom they are often related to.

Stick this album on using a pair of headphones and you'll realise that from '71 to '76 Tangerine Dream were the masters of analogue electronics without comparison.

Report this review (#380042)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars Far Eastern bells are joined by the usual spacey sounds that are what remains of the pink period, but a couple of minutes are enough to make clear that the Tangerine Dream are now something different. The fist part of Rubycon, if released today would be called ambient or newage, but it was released in 1975 so it deserves the status of progressive electronic masterpiece..

Fans of Vangelis can surely like this music as there's a lot of common elements between the two. As usual for TD each side-long piece has different "movements". After 6 minutes there's a spacey interlude and a more ryhthmic section starts. I'm sure that also Alan Parsons has been influenced by those sounds.

Rubycon is less experimental than the previous releases. Surely it's easier, nothing so challenging as Zeit or Atem can be. Another artist whosemusic can be somewhat compared to is Jean Michel Jarre, but thanks to the God of Rock, not so commercial.

At minute 12 the rhytmic section becomes more compulsive with some accents (electronic, not orchestral) that are what I connect to the works of Alan Parson in the 80s (that I don't like very much).

The third section, at minute 14 has initially a middle-eastern flute sound, but the final is totally spacey. When the rhythm is gone we are back to when we started (just after the bells). No relations with anybody else at this point. This is pure Tangerine Dream.

Part II starts with sounds like a siren of war. Are we going to be bombed? Or is it just a dream? Effectively the smooth sounds give the impression of something unreal, a nightmare about war. It then developes into an orgy of "voices" like the representation of the Greek "ADE" or the monolyth sounds of Kubrick's 2001. After the voices the rhythm restarts.

Of course when the ambient changes we are at minute 5. This movement or section is quite similar in the structure to Ricochet. The compulsive rhythm gives room to square waves and string orchestra sound.....until minute 10...

The rhythm increases but is relegated in the background. There are changes in pitch and everything is now more spacey. Then water...seashore...and electronic. We know that this sea is synthetic. The sounds are not made to make us think to anything real. It's a nightmare, remember?

No more rhythm and now we are back to space. We woke up from that dream or nightmare just to realize that we are on a starship going nowhere in the deep space. It's not the atonal music of zeit. It's an envelop of sounds into which my headphones can wrap me up.

The last two minutes are a beautiful and relaxing moment that reminds to far East again. When it ends I want can some people find them boring?

If music is made to transmit emotions from one mind to another, this album does its job.

For anybody who wants to start with Tangerine Dream, this is the first accessible work of them. but don't misunderstand me: it's accessible, it doesn't mean commercial or trivial. It's a masterpiece and probably the best release of this German trio.

Report this review (#403427)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even if Phaedra was the breakthrough album that everyone enjoyed and started more revolutionary music, Rubycon is obviously the better album. Far more interesting compositional technique, high virtuosity and intense musical soundscapes fill all of the title track (which is the whole album, by the way). Tangerine Dream fans know it, everyone else needs to catch up on this wonderful album.

1.Rubycon Part 1 - The best section off the whole album, and easily the more beautiful out of the two parts (even if both can be called similar in structure). The song may seem to put off some with the analog generated noises and audio generator sound effects, it seems to go into one of the most euphoric of all musical journeys of all time. The song seems to lazily go into this beautiful section, as the computer noises, choral arrangments and electronic seagulls give way to Edgar Froese's amazing mellotron and Christoph Frankes beautiful synth movements. Peter Baumann's incredible sound effects of the gulls give the song a pastrol feeling, inventive all the way through is their playing. The song turns into a more 'Phaedra" landscape with the entering of electronic noises, as the sequencer gives way to interesting rhythms, church organs and interesting synth effects. All in all, one of my favourite pieces of art from the band. (10/10)

2.Rubycon Part 2 - This section seems to go by a bit faster than the first, yet it's just a hair longer. The song is much scarier in nature, and seems to be a bit more experimental in the opening. Odd, almost train, effects soar through the first few minutes. It soon gives way to some odd notes of Baumann's synth voice, minimoog flourishes and synth notes. The song soon enters another galaxie as the sequencer enters. The song seems to roll for a while with interesting passages and new themes that come up and melt away into another theme. The final part of the track is arguable more intimidating the capture, but it's worth it as it's very interesting. (9.5/10)

Though some odd sections in the the second part of the work, Tangerine Dream gave birth to one of the most interesting peices of music yet. I have to give this album 5 stars for it's amazing gem-like qualities, and ultimatly being superior in every way to Phaedra, as the album just can't compare. You have to get this album, it's amazing.

Report this review (#404362)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Definitly, I´m not a vinyl fanatic. And this album is proof of that. My sister had this Lp in the 70´s and I really didn´t like it. But upon hearing it again several years after that period, the CD sound provides much more deph for this kind of music (and instrumental music in general, by the way, but specially this one). Vinyl had lots of limitations, specially back then. And upon hearing it now I can see that Rubycon is not as vague, abstract and melodic structureless as I used to think it was (even if much of it IS very abstract). Still, it is not exactly the type of music that moves me. It sounds a lot like a soundtrack of a sci fi movie (and the ones with not much action). Think about a documentary of lunar landscapes: that´s probably the music for it. Small wonder Tangerine Dream did so many soundtracks by the end of the 70´s...

In the end I reckon TD as a groundbreaking group, they were very good on what they did, but clearly, I much rather hear their stuff from Stratospher onwards, where they spiced their electronic soundscapes with defined melodies, more harmonic structures and some rhythms patterns. This one is definitly essential for hardcore eletronic fans only. My rating should be two stars, but I think that a 2.5 stars rating would be fairer. After all, it´s not really bad at all, and shows a transitional period to where the band would eventually find the sound to a much broader audience.

Report this review (#412538)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is important for me to perform the reviews of Rubycon and Phaedra one beside the other. Both albums share the same quality, and if we consider Phaedra to be the top of an evolution that yielded such a fantastic record, one must say that Rubycon would be the starting of a period of fall. This would mean that for the best Tangerine could do, after a masterpiece like Phaedra (the climax of a cycle), it would be too hard to maintain a masterpiece level without a complete exchange of musical approach? But for the pleasure of music lovers, they got it !! They made an album very much close in style, but sufficiently apart to be not considered the second disc of a double LP.

If you take a view on Phaedra like that, Rubycon would only avoid being eclipsed by Phaedra if it could reach lands Phaedra doesn´t. And it would be even harder without a considerable change in approach. But for the amazement of all music lovers, Tangerine got to do it, even without a change in musical approach (a change like the one noticed when you compare Richochet or Atmosfear with Phaedra).

So, this is the great achievement of Tangerine Dream in Rubycon. They got to go further beyond the climax that Phaedra represents; but even doing this, Phaedra maintains its condition of being a climax; the albums are so similar, but there are no lack of creativity in composing and playing both of them.

All this comparisons, maybe even all this reviews of Tangerine Dream works may sounds meaningless to many of the listeners. But this is progressive electronic. It is always in the straight line between being magic and being boring, between a environment sound for reading or talking or a full attention demanding music that takes listeners to a very deep inside experience. Progressive Electronic is music of extremes?

Report this review (#415863)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Coupled with Phaedra, Rubycon is also one of the best Tangerine Dream albums to be released from their early era. Rubycon is slightly less accessible than its predecessor because of its tendency to be fairly ambient occasionally, but it is highly enjoyable once you listen to it over a few times.

Phaedra was a very cold and lonely sounding record, and Rubycon takes those elements and warms them up only slightly. Across this two track suite is an otherworldly and almost tropical wonderland-like atmosphere that still evokes feeling of estrangement, but it isn't nearly as troubling and unsettling as could be expected. Part 1 starts with soaring mellotron accompanied lightly by the sounds of the forest and its creatures before succumbing to a pulsating beat of rushed euphoria leading you through the soundscape on flighted feet. Part 2 starts a little bit more on the ghostly and weary side of things, and after a sinister mellotron drone the sound paints a mental image of being underwater, accompanied by the synthesized sounds of whales and eels, and the dark echoing hidden within oceanic caves.

This entire album is really a bombardment of enjoyable atmosphere that I feel could probably induce euphoria in anyone willing to give it a shot when they're in a mellow mood. This isn't music for becoming energized, but it is music for the imagination. Highly recommended successor to the great Phaedra.

Report this review (#438557)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While the walls of the youthful yet fragile citadel of progressive rock music were beginning to crumble, TD was reaching its peak powers; all the familiarization and experimenting with their rather complicated equipment and sound manipulation techniques and miles of concert performing was paying off with a more confident trio of musicians and a more refined sound in the studio. Rubycon represents the achievement of that plateau of mastery as the previous album, Phaedra, was still showing engineering and sound quality flaws. While listening to the opening eight minutes of Rubycon, Side One, one can very easily find oneself thinking, "This is where Vangelis came from," but M. Papathanassiou had already released five solo albums since his departure from Aphrodite's Child--two of which were showing his very fast and deep descent into the music of the soon to be defined electronic or "ambient" instrumental soundtrack music. Where the Berlin School musicians and Vangelis differ the most is put on display with the entrance of the pulsating, forward-driving sequence in the ninth minute. This is no Vangelis! The clarity here, the emotion evoked, the sound as a whole, is vastly different from the other non-Berlin School artists exploring electronic soundscapes at the time (1974-5). The final, zither-based section of eerie water-based sound experiments takes us to the break. Weird. (9/10) Side Two opens with gong and slow motion siren- and bird-like sounds wafting and drifting in and out of the soundscape. Cool! And a bit unsettling. While the morphing, floating sustained siren remains insistent in its place at the sound foundation, by the end of the third minute it turns into voices, multi-level choir voices--ghosts singing a perpetual drone of frustration and lament. At the end of the fifth minute a lower-mid-range sequence rises up to push away the voices of the dead. A couple of higher pitch synths throw in intermittent bursts to liven things up, but it is the shifting, morphing, mixing sequence that keeps my attention focused, urges the pilgrim onward. Awesome! Tangerine Dream, Masters of electronic music, have arrived! Edgar's guitar in the mid-section is a welcome addition--a feature of TD music that I will enjoy as they use it more--especially on the live album, "Encore!" recorded on their 1976 American tour. The final "flute"-dominated couple minutes are very serene and heavenly. The goal has been reached. Wonderful display of the potential of electronically-generated (and treated) music. (10/10)

A masterpiece of progressive rock music and one of the shining moments in the history of Progressive Electronic music.

Report this review (#459489)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Continuing the spooky, electronic approach of Phaedra, Rubycon is structured as a single album-long piece - perhaps at the behest of publisher Virgin Records, who enthused by the runaway success of Mike Oldfield's albums were encouraging their artists to produce similar work. (The first album by Clearlight is an album-long piece for this very reason.) The approach works well here, partly because compared to the mighty composition which is Zeit a single album-length piece is a walk in the park, but also because the creativity shown in Phaedra is still in evidence here. Whilst it doesn't show much in the way of musical progression over its predecessor, it is still compelling enough to demand attention.
Report this review (#537403)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Tangerine Dream - Rubycon (1974)

The German electronic revolution brought about some strong groups, Tangerine Dream being perhaps the most famous of them. After a period of experimentation and leaning a bit on Pink Floyd's inventions (think of sounds, equipment use, etc.) the band came with avant- garde/experimental 'Zeit', just before their most celebrated progressive electronic period started with records like 'Pheadra' and 'Rubycon'.

In this period, the band would combine its root with its avant experimentation and create atmospheric and slightly melodic electronic albums. Recognisable features are the melody-in- loop (like on Pink Floyd's 'Learning to Fly') and the spacey mellotron & synthesizer sounds that come from both right and left. The sound is a bit muddy, but it helps to create the abstract & dark atmospheres the music is expressing. The album has no weak moments, but nothing is too recognisable or memorable either in my humble opinion. Some composition would not have hurt.

Conclusion. Recommended album for fans of electronic 'progressive' music, but not a memorable masterpiece of any kind in my opinion. Somehow the distinctiveness and melodic passages of pieces like J.M. Jarre's 'Equinox' are still more attractive for me. The small three and a halve rating for this one.

Report this review (#583491)
Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5, actually. This is one heaven and hell of an album. Indeed, the two sole tracks on it sound like they musically represent heaven and hell. Let me walk you through it.

The first half, or part 1, of the album starts with some hypnotic iterations followed by a heavenly New Age texture, big thanks to the inventor of the Mellotron who is resting happily in his grave. Expect some choir along the way, as well as some vivid synth work, where the latter is just classic Tangerine Dream. As for the second half, i.e. part 2, of the record, I have a few words for you. Guess what one of them is. It's "hell", of course! The introductory texture will not make you do some involuntary things, but it might frighten you to some extent. The choir and the ambulance/pandemonium synth work are nothing short of innovative and truly unique. Beat that. Oh, and there is some rhythmic sequencer stuff on this track too.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'Rubycon, pt. 1' - ****+ (Yes, I'm making an exception here to my 5-star system - half-stars. The rhythmic sequencers on those tracks are nothing new to me here.)

2. 'Rubycon, pt. 2' - ****+

Stamp: "I like it" (Yet another album not for modern pop music lovers in general.)

Report this review (#613991)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Rubycon' - Tangerine Dream (9/10)

Along with the mechaniques in Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream helped forge and ultimately popularize the fledgeling style of electronic music. Hearing that label now often invokes sickly images of dance clubs, but Tangerine Dream are not to be underestimated, regardless of how this vast genre has eventually degraded. "Rubycon" is held to be the best album by this German outfit, so I've decided to start my experience with them here. Having heard some of Klaus Schulze's solo material before (even though he does not perform on this album), I knew what to expect; dreamy sequencers, spacey ambiance and a general sense of loose composition that never rushes to get anywhere. Granted, "Rubycon" is not the 'space music' standard of perfection I may have hoped it would be, but it stands rightly as one of the best.

Although Tangerine Dream is usually piled in with the progressive rock crowd, their approach is fairly different than the grandeur and bombast we typically associate with the 70's prog era. A quick comparison could be drawn with some of Pink Floyd's early stuff, but the fact remains that they stand far apart from flagships like Yes or King Crimson. Although it may have been Eno who coined the 'ambient music' term, Tangerine Dream was already on the bandwagon. Although the sequencers occasionally loop around an idea, the glory of "Rubycon" lies in its atmosphere.

There is no percussion, and very little guitar work to speak of. One can imagine a room packed with keyboards where they recorded this. As such, "Rubycon" is a very quiet record, reserved, but rich with texture. Particularly on the second side of this record, Tangerine Dream evoke the sort of microtonal 'chaotic' sound that I normally associate with my favourite neoclassical composer, Gyorgy Ligeti. It's not difficult to imagine a scene from Kubrick's 2001 set to the music here. Tangerine Dream often flirts with the prospect of background music on "Rubycon", although there's always enough going on with the texture and gradually evolving compositions to keep a listener involved, so long as they're in the mood for it.

A listener's enjoyment of "Rubycon" may weigh heavily on their mood while listening. It's certainly not a record for all occasions. Depending on how open a listener is to relaxation, it's either an exercise in tedium or transcendental trip through space. Compared with other albums of its style, "Rubycon" is graced with an improved sense of composition and flow, among the best I've heard in space music. It may have a tendency to fall into the background, but "Rubycon" is a stunning piece of sound.

Report this review (#783029)
Posted Friday, July 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The most striking electronic album I've ever heard! There are only two tracks on this album, but despite their length, they do not sound so boring or dull as it seems at first sight.

"Rubycon, Part 1" probably, the strongest track on the album for its growing theme throughout the whole length. Imagined early morning on the beach. Sunrise. Seagulls flying over the horizon. Music is becoming tense, as if a storms comes. And so, on the rise, music reaches its 'climax'. That's all. Rubycon is passed! Now there's just a stop and rest.

I was amazed at how TD gave the whole atmosphere of event. Despite the fact that I refrain electronic gadgets, it have very pleased for me here. Is no exception, and "Rubycon, Part 2". It all pretty much the same, but this Part is more dark and anxious than its predecessor. Pulsating synth sounds are becoming more modern (at that time), and that this rhythm later will be already introduced in music of electronic bands, such as Devo, Depeche Mode, A-ha and so on.

"Phaedra" (the previous album, released a year earlier), of course, was a revolutionary album with its unique chilling atmosphere, but I think that "Phaedra" is not brought to perfection. Just a little bit!

Definitely, the best in Progressive Electronic! Highly recommended for those who prefer to spend time with the music in a different space. 5/5.

Report this review (#805602)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Tangerine Dream are not a favourite band of mine as I could never get into the heralded 'Phaedra' or 'Stratosfear',supposedly their best work, though there were parts of those albums I liked a lot. So it was with trepidation that I decided to take the 'Rubycon' test.

It only has two tracks so it did not intimidate me in the same way that their longer albums have done. It begins with chimes and electronic atmospherics that are ethereal and rather weird. The opening section sounds a little like Pink Floyd's 'Shine On' intro and has washes of Moog and swathes of electro keys. The grandiose soundscape is akin to the soundtrack of a space epic such as '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Marooned'. This electronic meditation simply flows organically and develops into shapes building upon each other rather than intervening. There are no rhythms at all until the surprise inclusion at 7and a half minutes. It reminds me of the Pink Floyd sequencer on 'On The Run' or the 'Midnight Express' soundtrack of 'The Chase' in some ways though more subtle. It was certainly a welcome embellishment for my tastes. Now it begins to sound like Mike Oldfield or Jean Michel Jarre. I am certainly glad it is not as dreary as 'Phaedra', and I guess this is an improvement over other TD I have heard so that is a nice change. I love the section at 10 and a half minutes as it builds into heavier electronic percussion that has a hypnotic effect. The end sounds like the Arabian fish music from 'Fantasia'. The synth swells sound akin to Pink Floyd's 'One of these Days'; and overall this is a good TD track worth checking out and one of my favourites.

Side two is part 2 of this epic. Again it swallows the whole vinyl side, and is gradually building exploring spacey meditation with synthesizer elegance. It begins with howling wind that has a haunting ethereal quality. The music is organic and developing naturally growing in intensity and volume. This is creepy at first like the middle section of Pink Floyd's 'Echoes' or '2001: A Space Odyssey''s Monolith discovery scene. It builds into a wall of sound then an electronic rhythm pulse locks in and the music lightens up. The pulse is hypnotic and there is a beauty about the synth washes. The sequencer varies in signature and melody as synths meander over creating that odd electro ambience. The soundscape is polarised in the last 4 minutes with waves crashing on a beach and spooky Tron over a droning ghostly vibe. This fills you with a sense of impending dread, and is perhaps the creepiest TD I have heard.

I would rate this higher than 'Phaedra' easily, that bored me to tears, and just as high as 'Stratosfear', that is still my favourite. 3 stars easily is deserved but I can see that this type of music is an acquired taste; not for everyone but still highly influential to trance and techno rock.

Report this review (#840854)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2012 | Review Permalink

Consider yourself forewarned.

Before and after. It establishes electronic rock/prog-composers/performers as equally relevant as an ANY serious electronic music composer or contemporary classical ones..

Yes, of course there was electronic life before TD, Schulze or Krautrock even Stockhausen to name the "famous".

(if you lke this genre there is a non-obscure easy to get cd named "Forbidden Planets" Music from the Pioneers of Electronic Sound. An album I hope is mentioned somewhere in this page if not it would be a perfect addition to the genre) It will make it easier to understand why "Rubycon" is on top of the other efforts in this page's electronic category. )

Doomed for life! Every electronic cut you listen to in the future will be instantly processed, sampled and holded to the standards of "RUBYCON". By chance, intention & destiny .. TD created with this MASTERPIECE..the music everyone was expecting to listen to when they played on an electronic-music album.

Here you find electronics in service of human/created music, but also masterful compositions to exploit the machine/generated electronic sounds, not the other way around;,which was the usual route taken.

TD in this release (as in its "Ricochet" sibling) take electronic music far away from mere random experimentations, opposite to that they re-model it, mold it from scratch, compress it and assemble it to ground breaking altitudes .

Keyword: assemble, as in ensemble, as in "serious" music composition for human/electronic ensembles (small endeavor). Before and after...... It is not something you can choose to like or ignore. It is already there, it has been achieved, the work is more than done, with perfect grace., as if nothing.

5+ PA stars no less.

Report this review (#895480)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've shied away from reviewing this album for a few years.

The real issue is being prepared to set aside time to allow yourself to get involved: suspend the disbelief and engage. If you approach this with a double expresso and a furrowed brow you will miss the point.

This is room lights out, slouch into the massive bean bag amidst the wafting dry ice and pulsing mood lighting album. Better yet an isolation tank with sandalwood incense burning. Ride on your lilo and drift in a sea of sound. The only distraction is having to change the record over. This is one of the reasons to have gone the extra mile on the deck and cartridge.

Since I've misplaced my TARDIS it's hard to really ascribe to this album the significance it deserves. (Although at times it does sound like a 70s Dr Who soundtrack)/

It's hard to imagine anyone who is into prog not having listened to this album a few dozen times. Obviously the lyrics are challenging and mind-altering (as if): this is Tangerine Dream: tighter lipped than Ozrics.

Essential: of course it is. Will you like it? Can't say. Music is like wine: we all have our different tastes. something may be complex and highly regarded: you may hate it. Same goes for Rubycon.

Report this review (#1064799)
Posted Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars As my first exposure to TD and the sub-genre it belongs to, I have found an audio paradise unparalleled by anything I had heard prior to Rubycon. Here there is no simple line-up of your stereotypical rock band instruments set to pump out songs and fall in line to the accordance of the listener's expectations. Instead, we are left to witness electronic music as never comprehended before (at least, for me). While I have no knowledge of the band members themselves or their roles in creating this blissful electronic music, it does not take much imagination to understand why many regard this album as a masterpiece. A dream put into sounds; a soaring landscape of pulsing and reverberating audio effects that transport the listener to realms unknown. Either side to Rubycon is uniquely creative in their own right. They challenge the mind to conjure up images of the listener's choosing, giving isolated experiences specific to each person. TD really give up interpretation to us and leave the swelling moods of sequenced, electronic pulses and vibrations to themselves. This album is essential, I think, to those who love to really immerse themselves in music and give it their undivided attention. That is to say, most of us Prog listeners.
Report this review (#1139220)
Posted Thursday, February 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had actually forgot how exciting this album was until I heard it on my way home from work some days ago. I work in a small supermarket, stressful days and late nights. This night I was almost dying of tiredness, could hardly get my ass on the bus. I guess everyone has this kind of nights, so you probably know exactly what I mean. Then think of the feeling of finding a kind of comfortable seat in a almost empty bus. Its almost midnight and its completely dark outside the bus window, except for some street lights and a few cars passing by.

Usually I would listen to Dark side of the Moon or anything by Sigur Ros at nights like this, but this night I just happened to find some old and forgotten Tangerine Dream albums on my iPod. For some reason I remembered those as pretty hard to get into, a bit disturbing and noisy. "It was so long ago though", I thought and put Rubycon on play and it was a great soundtrack for my travel home.

This isn't an album like you usually know it (you know, with songs and [&*!#]), but then again you don't really expect an usual album from a german synth groupe in the 70s. That would be to simple. Here we have two songs only, but they stretch for over 17 minutes each. Also its hard to say if there really is so much happening in the songs. I guess it is, but slowly and very floaty. Trying to explain it in text would make a quite dry review, so Im not going to try that. A highly surreal painting would probably make more sense than a text, because thats what the record seems to be about. There is no story or any events here, this music is more like a journey to a very strange, some how hunting but very beautiful place. Its the kind of music you can almost see floating through the air, even though you couldn't possibly describe it to anyone.

To be a bit obiective about it (its very hard, but I´ll give it a try) this is probably not something you listen to every day, your brain would probably transform into a mushroom if you did (a quite fantastic mushroom with a smiling face though). This is something you listen to alone when its really late and you are too tired for anything advanced but still want something wonderful to fill your tired brain with. It sounds like Kraftwerk without structure, melody or vocals, which is exactly what you need sometimes.

Report this review (#1158943)
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crossing an electronic river

4.5 stars

After the success of "Phaedra", TANGERINE DREAM release one year later "Rubycon", their deepest and most meditative work. Not as ground-breaking as its predecessor, this sixth studio album is however more fluid and coherent. The disc is divided in two long equal parts sharing a similar style and based on the same structure. The band members have now mastered their equipment and added other instruments such as organ, guitar, gong, flute, oboe and piano. Most melodies are played by Edgar Froese with the mellotron, while the sequences are programmed by Christopher Franke. Although short (only 35 minutes), the music is an invitation to dive into unknown waters.

Part 1 is the best. The hazy ambient beginning is aerial and relaxing. Then, a fast liquid sequence appear, which displays a tense atmosphere. Coupled with dreamy mellotron melodies, this creates a great hypnotic effect. Over- spacey! The ending part is more calm and evanescent. One of the best compositions of TANGERINE DREAM. 5 stars.

Part 2 is darker and more oppressive. It first alternates haunting and trippy ambiances with gongs, sirens and choirs, to unveil a minimalistic electronic loop. The passage is good but features only a few variations and tends to become a bit repetitive, as if it was aimed to demonstrate of the possibilities of the sequencer. However, as same other TD tracks, it somehow pre-dates trance music. The ending part is sinister and ambient, with a mysterious flute. 4 stars.

Considered by many as TD's best studio effort from their "golden era", "Rubycon" is their most mesmerizing and inner album. You have to keep being concentrated to really "enter into the music". The aquatic and fluid compositions are coherent with the beautifully simple cover art. Like water, they change shape and are rather homogeneous. My only slight reproach would be the few monotonous passages of Part 2.

After this opus, the band will cross the Rubycon, as their following albums will be more melodic, direct and not as meditative. A little more accessible than "Phaedra", "Rubycon" is indispensable for TANGERINE DREAM, progressive electronic and maybe even minimalistic music fans.

Report this review (#1553437)
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Quintessential Tangerine Dream!

Their best album - very close to 5 Stars! In the 1980s Tangerine Dream would become cheesy, but on this album they are at their most inventive. They use a large swath of electronic instruments (the original analog synths) but also guitars, melotrons, and traditional instruments played through various effects (delay, etc) to produce a highly original and musical album. While they established the basis for their sound on the previous "Phaedra" album, it is on this one that they excel. The result is an original mix of psychedelic soundscape, haunting and emotive , futuristic repetitive synth sequences, and experimental musique concrette, but without the limitations of any kind of pre-set structure (no time signatures, key signatures or chord progressions to worry about). It works exceptionally well, taking you on a sound voyage that is like no other. Later on, Tangerine Dream would start using drum machines, chord progressions, and structured melody lines, which sometimes worked and sometimes did not, and in doing so lose some of the magic of unstructured but highly musical soundscape exploration that this album characterises. Highly recommended. I give this 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just shy of my criteria for 5 stars. So, at the top end of 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1703428)
Posted Saturday, March 18, 2017 | Review Permalink

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