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TURN OF THE TIDES

Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic


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2 stars "Turn Of The Tides" could have been one of the greatest TD albums ever. It's a concept album (auspicious start right there!) and it's a grand,lavishly produced affair with Edgar and Jerome being augmented by guestmusicians on guitar,sax and vocals laying the basis for a quite splendid album. Which fails to appear. What does appear is a wishy washy non entity of a musical hodgepodge which is neither one thing nor another. It starts off,surprisingly enough,with a straightforward rendition of "Promenade" from "Pictures At An Exhibition" (the orchestrated Ravel version),augmented at the end by a compositional twist courtesy of TD seguing it into the first "proper" track,"Firetongues" which isn't half bad,really. Nice keyboard riff,great flamenco type acoustic guitar solo,but the electric guitar is a tad annoying and over the top,something which is to be all too common for the rest of the album,sadly. However,the album moves briskly on with a track which is nothing less than a TD classic: "Galley Slave's Horizon". This piece simply bristles with creativity,from the rolling,wave like intro and the subsequent beautiful piano and vocal part to the coda which is a quite spectacular guitar solo from Zlatco Perica,quite possibly my favourite guitar solo of all time. By this point in the album I thought I was on to a winner,another TD classic. But this is where the good news ends. From the awesome splendour and majestic beauty of "Galley Slave's Horizon" we move to "Death Of A Nightingale" which is an insipid piece of new age dross,devoid of any qualities whatsoever. Next up is the longest track,"Twilight Brigade" which might have been quite good if it hadn't been ruined by needless guitar noodlings of the most pointless kind. However,it's practically a "Galley Slave's Horizon" compared to "Jungle Journey" where TD decides to get funky. Not a good idea for a German electronic band. And to top it off,they engage in a ridiculous twin guitar duel of the Judas Priest/Thin Lizzy kind,as if to emphasise just how much they have lost the plot by this point. Next up is without question the worst track on the album and quite possibly the worst piece of music TD have ever done. What possessed Edgar and Jerome to write and then proceed to record the utter bilge that constitutes "Midwinter Night" is one of the greatest mysteries of our age. This track sounds like it was stolen from the wastepaper basket of Kenny G. A terrible piece of muzak fit only for restaurants. The title track is another tedious stadium guitar workout but the album ends surprisingly with a very good finale called "Story Of The Brave" (Due to a technical error,this was omitted from the album cover). By stretching themselves so far on "Turn Of The Tides",trying to do everything within the space of 57 minutes,they managed only to lose focus and wound up sounding utterly lost. "Turn Of The Tides" marked the end of the "wilderness years" for TD,the latter part of the 80's and first half of the 90's, where they were struggling desperately for a cohesive direction following the loss of Chris Franke in 1987. Frankly,with the lacklustre and uninspiring albums they turned out in those years,I thought that my favourite band was finished. Little did I know that just around the corner lay the new golden age of TD music that has since 1995 produced some of the best TD albums of all time,but that's another story!

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Send comments to Pixel Pirate (BETA) | Report this review (#32574)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is one of the weakest albums of Tangerine Dream's history, a brand name which just ten years before released the magnificent live album Poland (1984). OK, back then we had a very different group, formed by Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Johannes Schmoelling. Franke left in 1988, replaced by Paul Haslinger. We still had the half decent Optical Race and the fairly good Lily on the Beach (1989), but then Haslinger left and since then we've been having only glimpses of creativity.

Turn of the Tides, made by Edgar Froese and Jerome, is a perfect example of TD's creative death that was the 1990s, with very few exceptions. Having one or other OK track, like Firetongues, does not save this album. This definitely deserves 1 star, only for completionists. I had a copy and fortunately was able to resell it. The space this album was occupying in my CD shelf was more important than this music.

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Send comments to jobim (BETA) | Report this review (#46848)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I probably fell into the same trap as a lot of other long-term Tangerine Dream fans after first hearing this 1994 effort, comparing it (unfavorably, of course) to such unqualified TD classics like "Phaedra", "Ricochet", and "Stratosfear". Maybe it was the anonymous sheen of all those new digital keyboards, or else the steady diet of generic dance-floor drum programs. But at first exposure the album sounded little better than boilerplate New Age movie soundtrack mush.

All right, so their musical strategy is more conventional than it was in the old days. But the band in the 1990s needs to be measured with a different yardstick. This is not your parent's Tangerine Dream anymore, and neither does it pretend to be. On its own merits the music itself is often gorgeous beyond description, sounding on some tracks ("Galley Slave's Horizon") not unlike the classic symphonic Prog of Andy Latimer and CAMEL: quite a radical departure from the counter-culture doodles of their early Krautrock days.

There's even (further shades of Golden Age Prog Rock) a concept of sorts behind it all. The album was composed around an obscure, allegorical narrative penned by the prime T. Dreamer Edgar Froese himself, apparently after one too many screening of a Wojciech Has movie (remember "The Saragossa Manuscript"?) The mood is set, oddly but effectively, by the "Promenade" from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition": an unconscious nod, perhaps, to fellow synthesizer advocate Keith Emerson? This brief but luxurious version was arranged by TD debutante Linda Spa, with the sounds of a horse-drawn carriage on rain-swept cobblestones adding to the overall cinematic effect.

Spa's recruitment into the band still tends to confound the more chauvinistic corners of the Tangerine Dream fan base. But to these ears her graceful handling of the saxophone adds a welcome soft touch to a band historically obsessed with the latest electronic hardware. Likewise, a notable performance by guitarist Zlatko Perica brings the typically cosmic TD sound even closer to Earth, trading his sometimes overwrought pyrotechnics (see "220 Volt Live") for a more polished approach, often with an unexpected Spanish flair (as on the track "Firetongues").

Approach it with skepticism if you must, but don't dismiss the album without an impartial hearing. Too much good music can be irretrievably lost when doggedly kept at arm's length.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#80563)
Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is another winner in the very extensive TD discography. It is amazing to notice how effectively the band was releasing good albums one after another (even if some scarce flows can be noticed once in a while).

I was of course curious to listen to their version of "Pictures At An Exhibition" that I discovered in the early seventies with ELP (I don't know the original version, shame on me). I have to say that they pass the test quite well to be honest.

There are no masterpiece tracks featured here (at least I feel so), but some engaging music that combines both electronic with Middle-Eastern influences ("Firetongues").

Of course, as "Neu!mann" says in his reviews, this work can't be compared to the several masterpieces that the band delivered, but it remains of pretty decent quality. The addition of several members do provide a variety that was not too often met in their previous releases, the best of which is held by the superb sax play from Linda Spa during the excellent "Midwinter Night" for instance. Same nice feel can be experienced in the smooth and atmospheric" Galley Slave's Horizon". The one of that kind too much probably being "Death Of A Nightingale".

Another good and quite diversified track is the long "Twilight Brigade". The closing section is just brilliant: it consists of a superb guitar solo which is maybe one of the best that can be heard on a TD album. Really impressive. The upbeat (and somewhat "tribal") "Jungle Journey" is also a fine moment which contrasts with the usual atmospheric TD mood.

One blunder though here: the closing and title track which is too much "dance" oriented to my ears. The band released some of these previously (but hopefully not too much). And even if it is one of the longest track available on this "Turn On The Tides", one out of eight is not a drama, right?

Three stars for this good album.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#228405)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The outfit known as Tangerine Dream is without a doubt the longest-lived prog band in existence that I have unwittingly and without good reason avoided giving a fair listen. As a musical entity, they've been around since 1967 and, like the Energizer bunny, are still going so it's with a smidgen of embarrassment that I meekly own up to my stark ignorance of their art. A lot of that stems from their genre, progressive electronic. That's never been a magnet for my ears because I prefer vocals and lyrics in my prog rock diet but it's not like I have something against instrumentals in general. On the contrary, I've always been a huge fan of classical symphonies in addition to considering myself a jazz rock fusion buff so it may just be a matter of not being exposed to that much of it more than anything else. I do recall seeing their intriguing album covers sticking out in the record bins back in the 70s and being curious about what it was this odd bunch did, exactly, but I was never enticed enough to shell out my sparse lettuce for one of their LPs. Plus, none of my musician cronies ever said boo about them so they were far from being the talk of the town, so to speak. By doing a little web research recently I quickly learned that one multitalented guy named Edgar Froese is the sole survivor of all the incarnations of the group and, therefore, is the main mastermind that the band revolves around to this day. And, in case you're like me and didn't know squat about them, this is a Germanic combo. In fact, the roster of members and guest artists that have been associated with Tangerine Dream over the decades reads like a list of participants in an accordion-playing contest held at a Midwestern town's Oktoberfest. Just sayin'. Lotta folks coming and going through the studio door, for sure. Anyway, I read that the group was a lot more experimental in the 70s and 80s, did a lot of movie soundtracks for flicks like 'Risky Business' and 'Firestarter' along the way and swerved over into the realm of electronica in the 90s. (I'm still not sure what the 'electronica' connotation means, precisely, but I'm okay with that.) Honestly, I was just hoping to hear some cool stuff.

When I finally decided to sample their wares I was bedazzled by their enormous body of work so I took the old dartboard approach and picked an album at random. 1994's 'Turn of the Tides' got the luck of the draw. The first thing I heard was a peal of thunder, some rain and horse hooves clopping down a cobbled street, all of which were accompanying the familiar theme of Mussorgsky's 'Picture at an Exhibition.' I wasn't sure what to make of that scenario but the music turned out to be a rather straightforward, synthesized rendition of that composer's famously regal score. Not a bad way to start, I figured. 'Firetongues' is next and it opens with an ominous drone before entering into an Alan Parsons Project-styled motif propelled by Edgar's strong, active drum track. A flourish of Flamenco acoustic guitar provides an exciting edge and a true focal point. I really like the overall ambience of their sound, as well. The number was written by Froese's son, Jerome, who had joined the cast in 1990 so it seems that the tangerine didn't fall far from the tree if you catch my drift. Junior also composed the next cut, 'Galley Slave's Horizon,' a song wherein the plodding pace doesn't drag the momentum down too much and the heavily stacked electric guitars fill up the spaces nicely. About halfway through it drops down to a piano-led atmospheric passage that contains a cavernous depth of field (something I always dig). After that the drums reenter to establish a moving rhythm reminiscent of what Sade does so effortlessly. My only complaint is that the adventurous guitar work is buried too far down in the mix to be effective.

Edgar's 'Death of a Nightingale' sports a beautiful modern Asian texture that sets a serene, meditative tone from the start. Linda Spa's soprano sax is a perfect fit and the tune eases along like a peaceful stream. This piece deserves repeated listens. Jerome's 'Twilight Brigade' follows and the light, funky drums strutting under its lush soundscape help to distinguish it from the other cuts but it runs into trouble at the midway point when some ill-advised guitar licks spoil the scenery. Since Edgar, Jerome and some dude named Zlatco Perica are all listed as guitarists it's difficult to finger the perpetrator but it almost sounds like they accidentally left a scratch guitar track in because there are several bad notes that are unnecessarily foisted upon the listener without cause. Other than that rude gaffe I found myself waiting for something to surprise me in the arrangement but it never happened. Jerome's 'Jungle Journey' is next and, while it wasn't what I anticipated due to its title, it's not a big letdown per se. It possesses more of a techno dance groove than the African aura one would expect and, while interesting at times, it's not particularly engaging, either. Edgar's 'Midwinter Night' is decent. It's a simple but warm ballad supplemented by Spa's tender saxophone ride and, all in all, it's not intended to be a jab when I tell you it's unobtrusive music to read a book by. 'Turn of the Tides' brings up the rear. A mysterious intro leads to a Latin disco throb that persists throughout most of the song. Brassy synthesizers hog the spotlight for a while and then the number evolves to project a more ethereal mode toward the end where choir-like voices waft about.

As I indicated earlier in this review, I'm a novice when it comes to this brand of instrumental prog. I really like what Camel did on their 'Snow Goose' album and, at times, this sorta reminds me of the amiable spirit that inhabits that excellent record. I recently discovered the minimalist genius contained in some of Brian Eno's work so I'm slowly but surely widening my horizons by venturing farther into this wing of the prog museum. I guess Vangelis and Kraftwerk are bound to be sitting somewhere on my need-to-hear list, too. While this record didn't exactly wow me I did find it enticing enough to want to hear more from them. While admittedly not all that invigorating or energizing, I can still appreciate their acumen and the professional level of musicianship involved so I'm somewhat satisfied with the final product. 2.8 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#1059358)
Posted Sunday, October 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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