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Tangerine Dream - Tyranny Of Beauty CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream

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2 stars After the extravaganza of the previous year's concept album "Turn Of The Tides",TD wanted to make a simpler,more stripped down album and so 1995's "Tyranny Of Beauty" is a very different affair. Unfortunately,they went too far in the opposite direction. By trying to do something different than the lush,overproduced "Turn Of The Tides", they wound up sounding like a garage band in comparison on "Tyranny Of Beauty". The "production" on this album is truly terrible,everything sounds like it's recorded on maximum volume all the time,creating an impenetrable porridge of sound where it's almost impossible to differentiate the separate instruments in the mix. Not that there's that much musical information of any value to be found on this album in any case since they intentionally kept it as simple as possible this time round. Zlatco Perica,the guitarist who had augmented the TD sound in the early 90's was now replaced by not one guitarist,but two. And what a difference that made! Perico's very clear,precise,almost laserlike playing had now been replaced by a very different guitarsound indeed. A sloppy,messy one which occasionally makes TD sound like a grungeband,a development definitely not welcomed. At least not by me! Even Edgar Froese's guitar playing sounds like a hideous mess,a mixing accident more than anything else. And it's a real shame since the tracks themselves could have been very good,given another production and other arrangements as they proved later the same year when they re-arranged some of them for the first "Dream Mixes" project. Ironically,the only outstanding track here is an oldie: The updated version of "Stratosfear","Stratosfear 1995". Many old fans hated this version of their beloved 70's classic,but I thought it was excellent and it still stands as the only really good song on this album. Little did I know at the time that digging into the past would become a whole new avenue of creativity for TD and lead to numerous remixings and re- recordings of previous TD classics,resulting so far in 4 remix albums and several other tracks found on compilations and livealbums. TD also flirt tentatively with techno and dance rythms on "Tyranny Of Beauty" and what I thought of as another temporary diversion into new musical waters in the typical TD fashion before they would move on to something else,instead turned out to form the foundation for most of what they have done the last 10 years. The techno/dance thing was not a momentary infatuation for TD but turned out to have more staying power as an inspiration for future TD albums than anything else in their long career,leading to the great albums they have done over the last decade,like "Goblin's Club", "Transsiberia", "Great Wall Of China", "Mota Atma" and of course all the "Dream Mixes" albums. Not being endowed with the ability to foresee the future however,at the release of "Tyranny Of Beauty" in 95 I had no idea that all that wonderful music would have such humble origins as this rather forgettable album.
Report this review (#32576)
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to say when I first heard this CD I was of the opinion that it was a mess... but after several more plays I found some tracks brilliant, the 1st track Catwalk is a good introduction, the next tracks get better up to track 4 : Living in a fountain pen, this is almost jazz, with Linda Spa's excellent saxophone solo mixed with the guitar. I like the new version of Stratosphere, the title track takes some getting into, but once you have heard it a few times it becomes memorable, I like the treatment of Largo, but the added bonus track - Quasar does sound out of place & should have been left out.
Report this review (#50212)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2005 | Review Permalink

What can I say! I was very skeptical about TD music in the 90's. Basically, TD in this period is more modern and commercial. In fact, after the Virgin era, the music of TD turned into one more accessible for the common audience. Normally, the term of New Age music is more suitable for TD music after 1990. Someone, a friend of mine, a TD fan had gave to me this album a few years ago. I must say that after 2-3 auditions the music caught me very well. I must say I'm a fan of TD Virgin Years music above all! But, let me tell you:don't ignore some albums from TD after 1990. OK, there is rhythm, there is commercialism in music, but there's Tangerine Dream. The album is pure New Age music. But it is, really, a tyranny of beauty. E. Froese and his son, Jerome continue to produce electronic music under a modern spectrum. Sampling, guitar solos, saxophone, and keyboard drumming. The musical journey is anyway fluent and generates a beauty inside you. I used to listen to this album after a physical effort (I'm a fan of cycling) and it didn't dissapoint me at all. A short passing in a review would be: nice musical theme(Catwalk), nice intros (Birdwatcher' dream and the splendid guitar intro on Bride in Cold Tears, which is really amazing - could be Jerome here on the guitar?), great sax interludes (Little Blond in the Park of Attractions), nice atmospheric keyboards sounds (Haze of Fame) complex electronic structures (Tyranny of Beauty) and the classic remaking after Handel on Largo, absolutely great. I enjoyed the remix of Stratosfear. Not bad!

4 stars really!

Report this review (#167862)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Like most of the TD production of the nineties, this album is subject to controversy. Accordingly, should I say.

For some early fans, this could be considered as a massacre. For some other ones who understood their swap in their musical style, only some harm was done. But at the end of the day, there were already several years during which TD offered different layered music that the one of their great first decade.

And one had to live with this because several great albums were also released during the eighties.

This one has of course little to with the wonderful "Rubicon" of course. But at the same time, I would say that TD never sold out (so far). Even if the music presented here has NOTHING to do with the great and ambient maestria of the early seventies, it shouldn't be considered as useless either.

Most of the songs are quite decent and acceptable ("Catwalk", " Little Blonde In The Park Of Attractions"). Indeed, there are some weak moments as well. But to be honest, after having reviewed some thirty albums of the band, there were really few weak moments in their discography. Still, "Living In A Fountain Pen" does belong to one of them.

I can't be thrilled with the "adapted" version of the huge "Stratosfear" of course. What can I say? Just listen to the original and superb track of course!

So far, in my TD abundant reviewing I have only rated three of their works with two stars and even if this album is not a great one, I can't go any lower than three stars in terms of the music being played. If you ever consider how poor some production of the giants we had to face in the eighties, TD is certainly one out of many to have raised the prog flag pretty much high in the sky.

There are still some sublime musical moments in here: just listen to the extraordinary guitar work during "Hate Of Fame" to be convinced. Such a passionate moment my dear prog friends. The title track being of no less interesting mood. And what to say about the extreme jewel "Largo". Speachless, my friends.

Only therefore, they owe a lot of merit. I'm maybe rating this album on the higher range, but three stars for this "Tyranny" is my judgement.

Report this review (#237754)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars

Probably the worst of all Tangerine Dream albums, and one of the worst things that I've ever heard - the mid-'90s were a real dark age for Tangerine Dream, and Tyranny of Beauty is its nadir. The band certainly needed to move on from the dull muzak of the Private Music albums and Rockoon, but while this new period brought back a measure of the ambition that had deserted the band with Christopher Franke, that ambition was now applied in the most perverse of ways.

In their golden years, Tangerine Dream explored the furthest reaches of synthesized sound; at the close of the '80s, they contented themselves with cheap, generic keyboard tones; here (and, to a lesser degree, on the preceding Turn of the Tides), the focus has switched completely to guitars, all but burying what rudiments of electronics remain. This is hardly a problem in itself - Edgar Froese's icy, airy solos had been highlights on some of the band's best works - but the greasy, histrionic playing here abandons all taste and class, spewing out endless solos as indulgent as Frank Zappa's and as showy as David Gilmour's without the sense of either.

The album opens with "Catwalk", its lone highlight and incidentally one of the least guitar-oriented of its songs. It's trivial stuff and painfully outdated, built on a turn-of-the-decade house beat even as it flagrantly samples the leading-edge sounds of Underworld's dubnobasswithmyheadman, but it does boast a decent amount of energy, a comparatively light mix, and a genuinely impressive acoustic guitar solo in the middle. Unfortunately, things take an immediate nosedive afterward; the next piece, "Birdwatcher's Dream" combines sappy chord changes with The Wall-wannabe arpeggios and features an ugly, '80s "snap" sound in its climax, and it's only the start of the truly rotten material on here. "Little Blonde in the Park of Attractions" is one of the worst tracks on the disk, with the loudest, shreddiest guitar work and cheesily "dark" drumbeats near the end, and "Living in a Fountain Pen" (God, these titles) is a fitting neighbor, with a schlocky, "folk-style" acoustic section and toothlessly "tough" distorted power chords elsewhere. But the most offensive moment is easily "Stratosfear 1995" - an absolute travesty that takes a Tangerine Dream classic and smothers it under a leaden "rocking" beat, blaring hair-metal guitars, and lazy new beep-boop synthesizer tones, with the original song still audible, crushed and helpless, beneath it all!

After that, things start to calm down, and the album blends together in my mind as a haze of lower-key ramblings against more ignorable backdrops, although the early-'90s "dance" piano line and bongo drums in "Bride in Cold Tears" linger unpleasantly in my memory. Eventually, it ends with a slow Handel piece, featureless and spiritless in this rendition (the "string" pads seem to have been deliberately set to sound as cheap and unconvincing as possible, though the clarinet is nice), but a pleasant enough way to wind things down. I can't decide whether to praise it more for its composition or damn it more for its performance, but it's the first enjoyable thing here since "Catwalk", for what precious little that that's worth. Finally, some releases of the album add a contemporary B-side called "Quasar" as a bonus track - I looked it up on YouTube, and it's a perfectly generic techno thumper, which inherently makes it better than almost everything on the album proper.

Speaking for both Tyranny of Beauty and Turn of the Tides - I don't plan on sitting down to review more than one of these stinkers, and this one was the more satisfying target - I can see why these albums got made; after the lightweight facelessness of stuff like Optical Race and Melrose, Froese was probably itching to get back into more substantial territory. But why in this way? Electronic music was the biggest that it had ever been in the mid-'90s, and not just club music, but ambitious stuff in the spirit of what Tangerine Dream had built their name on - when even a "dance" band like The Orb could get away with recording something as sprawling and atmospheric as Orbus Terrarum, the time for a Tangerine Dream comeback was clearly ripe. Even the band themselves must have understood this, as the Underworld samples here prove that they were keeping up with contemporary electronic developments. But, incredibly, they threw that opportunity away, and this sorry music is the consequence.

Report this review (#1261828)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars TANGERINE DREAM continues their long journey through the desert of the 90's. At the same time, a whole new generation of electronic artists has taken the power, coming with a large panel of groundbreaking styles and exciting ideas: techno, ambient, IDM, big beat, trance, world music... By proposing backgound, flat, uninspired new age compositions, the german pioneers are getting outdistanced. Honestly, the only reasons to listen to "Tyranny of Beauty" are only 2 tracks.

The first tune, "Catwalk", represents the band as it should have been in 1995. Catchy, with a fast modern beat, while featuring interesting variations. Froese and co. finally entered the 90's. One of their best compositions of this period. So the question is... why don't the other tracks have this quality and modernity?

"Stratosfear 1995" is a rather nice reinterpretation of the original 1976 composition. More direct and rock-oriented, it's an enjoyable tune.

Despite its title, the music is not really oppressive nor beautiful. Listen to "Catwalk" and "Stratosfear 1995" if you want, the rest of the album has no interest.

Report this review (#1540071)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Between the years of 1992 ' 1996, Tangerine Dream was a four-some which consisted of Edgar Froese founder of the group, Jerome Froese his son, Linda Spa saxophonist, keyboardist and conductor, and Zlatco Perica guitarist. It is with this line up, and a few other musicians, Gerald Gradwohl, Mark Hornby and Gisela Kloetzer, that Tangerine Dream would record their 51st studio album, Tyranny of Beauty, released in 1995.

Starting off with 'Catwalk', we get a European sound with a constant up tempo beat which is somewhat subdued and a nice melody. There are some vocal effects done with a synthesizer. A Spanish style acoustic guitar plays a nice solo in the middle. 'Birdwatcher's Dream' starts with atmospheric synths and a guitar fanfare establishes a melody. Percussion starts abruptly as a beat is established with chord changes that are marked with a thick sound. This track departs from the usual formula of the previous track and tries for a more complex rhythm and melody and it is driven by the guitar until the 3 minute mark when it settles into a rhythmic pattern. However, changing themes and patterns keep things interesting and the addition of the guest musicians provides a much fuller sound than in some previous albums.

'Little Blonde in the Park of Attractions' is based off of a synthesized piano melody established at the first of the track. There are some nice vocal effects in there too that sound similar to the 'Enigma' sound. This one has more of a softer feel that leans toward ambient. 'Living in a Fountain Pen' continues with the same feel as the previous at first, but then a strumming guitar directs the beat and breaks up the monotony a bit. Hand drums are used this time around too. A separate acoustic guitar plays a counter melody, then a saxophone comes in and takes over. Next an electric guitar solo follows and the drums seem organic at this point as they are more interesting now and not following a programmed pattern.

'Stratosfear 1995' is a re-imagining of the TD staple. This time it seems to be done as a full band mixed with the electronics. It's an interesting take on the original that actually builds on it. 'Bride in Cold Tears' moves the album in a slightly different direction with a more romantic feel, a more melodic turn and a smoother delivery.

'Haze of Fame' is the longest track at over 8 minutes. It starts with an electric guitar solo supported by airy synths and no percussion. When the percussion does come in after a minute, it is at a medium-slow tempo. This track also features a romantic sax melody. It tends to teeter dangerously close to a new age sound, and you start to forget that this is an electronica album.

The title track 'Tyranny of Beauty' comes next. This track continues the slower, more pensive side of TD. This one is a bit better than the last track in that it isn't so new age sounding, but it still stays close to an accessible sound and is more driven by guitar in the middle, but gets too repetitive before it ends. The last track listed is 'Largo' which is a cover of the popular Handel processional melody from 'Xerxes'. You'll probably recognize it when you hear it. If you doubted the 2nd half of this album was new age, you'll be more certain that it is now as it could just as well be Kenny G playing the sax. Bleah! This is followed by a hidden unlisted track named 'Quasar'. This is a relatively shorter track placed here to end the album on a higher note with an upbeat track. Even the electronic melody is better that anything else on this side of the album.

At first, during the first 5 tracks on this album, it seems like a marked improvement that was helped with the additional personnel, and at times harkened back to a slightly more progressive sound from yesteryear, but the 2nd half of the album quickly declines in quality as it inches closer and closer to that inevitable new age sound. With half of the album being great and the 2nd half just being mediocre or less, this ends up as another 3 star album.

Report this review (#2086238)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars It starts with a track which could have been written by Peter Bardens or Alan Parsons. Not bad, but nothing new. The unexpected spanish guitar a la Al Di Meola adds a lot to the track, but is this really Tangerine Dream?

Let's try to ignore the band name, which is now newage oriented, and let's concentrate on music instead. "Catwalk" is a nice easy listening newage track, but it's very similar to Speed of light, an album that Peter Bardens released few years before.

"Birdwatchers Dream" is a little better as it's more in line with the TD music of the period. I sometimes wonder why they have never tried to use proper drums, bit I think it's mainly because they liked the electronic mood given by drone drums.

"Little Blond In The Park Of Attractions" features electric piano and sax. It's a proper newage track. In the 90s I've had some interest in newage, and there was plenty of tracks kike this. In particular I remember a German duo, the CHI, making music like this, but also Bardens comes to mind because of the sax.

"Living in a Fountain Pan is a track that I don't like, really. It has the same rhythm as the other, but the minor chords don't make it more dramatic. Just a bit boring. A so-so track with a 12 strings guitar taking the lead for a while.

With "Stratosfear 1994" the good old squared waves make a brief coming back into the TD sound. I don't know if the lead guitar is Froese or his guest, but Gradwool is mentioned as lead guitar on track 5, so it must be him. Squared waves apart, this is what TD, now just the Froese family, were used to do in the 90s.

"Bride in Cold Tears" sounds more 80s than 90s. It's like the clean guitar his waiting for some longhair metal vocalist to join. It doesn't happen. The mood is still newage., but Jerome Froese seems to have a lot of fun with the percussion. There's a lot of them in this track and not bad, I must say.

"Haze Of Fame" has a slow start. With a different guitar sound it could have been CAMEL. I think Latimer would have sounded great. Not a bad track at all.

The title track is based on two chords: I don't have the "absolute ear", but I guess it's F#minor-B. Interesting lead guitar but nothing special. "Largo" is a term used in classical music, and this closer sounds like a 17th century composition, but again, it may be me, but I hear an unexpected connection with CAMEL. I like it. A pleasant surprise at the end of an album with very few highlights.

In summary, this is not bad, but as like as dozens of TD albums of the 80s and the 90s I wouldn't suggest a newbie to start a TD journey with this one

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Posted Monday, July 15, 2019 | Review Permalink

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