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Tangerine Dream

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Tangerine Dream Optical Race album cover
2.72 | 132 ratings | 12 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marakesh (8:17)
2. Atlas Eyes (4:04)
3. Mothers Of Rain (5:13)
4. Twin Soul Tribe (4:28)
5. Optical Race (3:13)
6. Cat Scan (5:35)
7. Sun Gate (4:44)
8. Turning Off The Wheel (6:11)
9. The Midnight Trail (6:54)
10. Ghazal (Love Song) (5:00)

Total Time: 53:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / synthesizer, guitar
- Paul Haslinger / synthesizer, grand piano, guitar

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be confirmed at this moment

Releases information

A TANGERINE DREAM recording which brought Edgar Froese and Peter Baumann together again after eleven years, but this time it was not on a musical exploration. Peter Baumann had just founded his record label »Private Music« on which the album was then released.

Artwork: Norman Moore

LP Private Music- 2042-1-P (1988, Germany)

CD Private Music- 2042-2-P (1988, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy TANGERINE DREAM Optical Race Music

TANGERINE DREAM Optical Race ratings distribution

(132 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

TANGERINE DREAM Optical Race reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Modrigue
2 stars ... and Chris Franke left Tangerine Dream. Optical Race is a bit better than its predecessor Tyger (vocals have at least been removed, that's a good point), but is still a flat and mostly uninspired effort.

The first track Marakesh sounds very very little middle-oriental, and contains inappropriate changes of themes. Atlas Eyes is hardly an "empty" track filled with synthetizers. On the opposite, Mothers of Rain is THE track that saves the disc from the trashcan. In constrast with the rest of the album, this piece is very enchanting and puts you in a magic strange place when you listen to it. Then the theme goes stronger and stronger with upbeat and efficient sequenced waves. Then back to boring tracks. Twin Soul Tribe is empty and repetitive and the title track is irritating. Cat Scan attempts to re-use Mothers of Rain's theme but mananges to become cheesy at the end. Sun Gate sounds Pink Floyd-ish and is average with Froese's guitar solo. The last three tracks are flat, especially Ghazal. A "Love Song" from Tangerine Dream ? Horrendous !

I give two stars for the track Mothers of Rain, which carries well its name, comes in contrast with the other tracks and is definitely worth the listen.

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars There was a time when no other band on earth sounded like Tangerine Dream. But this 1988 album could have been made by anyone: a testament perhaps to their influence on popular culture, but also a sad reflection of the steady decline of this once pioneering outfit.

Blame the technology more than the talent. Ringleader Edgar Froese found a sympathetic accomplice in newcomer Paul Haslinger, recruited to fill the gap left by the unexpected defection of Froese's longtime partner, Chris Franke. But it was difficult in the 1980s to endow the latest digital equipment with any genuine character or personality. The state of the art in the 1980s insisted that music be programmed rather than played, and the result was that just about everything from that era sounded distressingly similar.

There are, thankfully, at least a few bright spots worth highlighting here. The album opens with several tracks sporting an almost exotic North African ambience: "Marakesh", "Atlas Eyes", and the evocative "Twin Soul Tribe". And it's possible to discern a lingering echo of that old, experimental Krautrock spirit, trying to break free of its glossy digital straightjacket in "Turning Off the Wheel" (the hypnotic monotony of the one-chord rhythms are faintly reminiscent of early CLUSTER, circa "Sowiesoso").

Too bad the rest of the album is so superficial, divided between upbeat but distinctly uncool dance floor grooves (as in the title track, and "Cat Scan") and the sort of saccharine ballads ("Sun Gate") unsuited to such an impersonal electronic production (this was, remember, still a few sessions prior to the fortuitous addition of Linda Spa, whose saxophone would warm the band's icy technological aura considerably). Heck, even the cover art here resembles a generic, pre-packaged corporate logo.

The final analysis can perhaps be left to Chinese philosopher Lao Tse, quoted in the CD booklet."The visible creates a work in form--the invisible defines its worth." The problem is there's not much here that isn't entirely visible. What you hear is what you get: another not unpleasant but utterly anonymous package of ersatz soundtrack fodder by the remnants of a group still searching for the rudder it lost years before.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars TD is now a duo and the least that I can say is that this album has too little to offer. It has been ages that the band didn't release such a weak effort IMO (the controversial "Cyclone" actually).

It is a monotonous succession of ambient passages without structure and passion. The first to be different is the upbeat and popish title track. But I can't say that this is my cup of tea. The worst so far and the press next type of track, unfortunately.

Some other songs are also offering some electro beat feel like "Cat Scan" or "The Midnight Trail" and to be honest, this is not my preferred TD. But this side of the band is not present on "Optical Race" even if some fine guitar can be heard in "Sun Gate" which the most emotional number available. Good, but no more.

Let's get tribute to this great band. So far, their prolific output revealed very little blunders in terms of original studio or live releases (I'm not talking about their soundtracks here, that's another topic). So, I won't blame them too much for this one. Just average, I guess?

Two stars.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars The year 1988 might well have been the peak for the new age genre, with the older baby boomers into their 40s and not wanting to be challenged more than by their workaholic bosses, stressed out spouses and lively offspring. If there was any justification for hitching TANGERINE DREAM to this label, it came in hitching them to the Private Music label, which specialized in mellow and inoffensive instrumental music. "Optical Race" delivers on both fronts, which is to say, it doesn't deliver at all.

Droning samey beats, likely programmed, unimaginative arrangements, minimal variety, and a smug unctuousness oozes from 2/3 of these grooves. Some tracks like "Mothers Of Rain ", "Sun Gate " and "The MIdnight Trail" sport buildups that promise an enthusiastic outburst but the ultimate delivery is shackled and disinterested. Others like the title cut and "Turning Off The Wheel" aren't even that good. In the end, the only completely satisfying cut is the opener "Marrakesh", thanks to an intriguing stratified structure and a series of melodic crescendoes. "Atlas Eyes" and "Cat Scan" are the only other true highlights in this disappointing release.

The only race here is from your chair to your turntable's cuing lever or the next button on the CD player. "Optical Race" is music for Lenscrafters.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars ....and then there were two....

It's 1988 and the two survivors have left behind Jocelyn Smith, Christian Gstettner and most of all Chris Franke.

The album doesn't start badly: the opener "Marakesh" is a very good track. Hardly recognizable as a TD product if you come from the 70s, but surely good. Unfortunately what follows is not all at the same level.

"Atlas Eyes" sounds similar to Peter Bardens' "Seen One Earth": same sounds, similar chords and same period. Not bad for a thing released in the 80s, but quite uninteresting.

"Mothers Of Rain" is on the same line. Initially the melody is nice and let's imagine an ambient track to come, but when the drone drumming starts it's just new age of the kind that Pete Bardens was doing at the same time.

"Twin Soul Tribe" makes me think to Soft Machine's "Palace of Glass". Similar even though the SM track features a jazz orchestra. A nice track unfortunately followed by the ridiculous title track. Imagine Jon Anderson's South American dance songs just to have an idea..

At least "Cat Scan" is a Tangerine Dream track. Not one of the best, almost in line with what the band is now used to do on their soundtracks.

"Sun Gate" starts promising. No drone drumming, a keyboard's soundscape and a quite good piano. Even this track is very "80s" and quite new age, too. Edgar Froese places on it a nice guitar solo. Not a bad track, really. Probably the only one together with the opener which shows some value.

"Turning Off The Wheel" is another quite good track (for this period). It's a bit repetitive, and for Froese & co this is a good thing. Nothing special also this.

"The Midnight Trail" is probably influenced by the soundtrack works of the decade. It's a new age instrumental based on a trivial sequence of chords. Again Pete Bardens comes in mind.

The album closer is called "Ghazal (Love Song)" and I can't not call it new age. In that period I was effectively listening to new age and I remember a band called "CHI" (perhaps a duo if I'm not wrong) making very similar things. I quite liked them so I can't say that I dislike this track, but it has nothing to do with progressive electronic and with Tangerine Dream. It's also in line with Pete Bardens "Speed Of Light" (the album). In addition it fades out, that's something that I don't like.

I have rated Tyger with 3 stars so I can be generous also with this album, but please keep in mind that's not a proper Tangerine Dream release. Unfortunately this is what the 80s were made of for a lot of great artists.

Latest members reviews

4 stars However many Tangerine Dream albums have I got - I think I stopped counting when I got to 70. I first encountered them around the time of Alpha Centauri (a bit too "experimental", shall I say, for me), saw them come into focus when they signed to Virgin, saw them lose some of that focus after the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2112947) | Posted by fenman | Monday, December 31, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After reading the other reviews for Optical Race, I had to add my 2 cents. I think this album rates much higher than 2 stars. I'll give it 4 stars. First of all the first track; Marakesh is a monster. This is one of the best TD tracks ever. If I could only play one track to anyone who has never ... (read more)

Report this review (#445934) | Posted by bradfro | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars One of the least exciting Tangerine Dream album's I've actually subjected my ears to listening all the way through. It seems to me that a common theme arises in Tangerine Dream's albums after this point, in that their albums only contain one or two really good tracks with the remainder of them be ... (read more)

Report this review (#245165) | Posted by AgentSpork | Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Yes, Optical Race is indeed a flat and mostly boring album with a few good tracks such as Sun Gate and Turning Off The Wheel. For fans only, and only acceptable if it's cheap. The best album from this early post-Franke period (1988-1990) is Lily on the Beach. This one is full of lively and be ... (read more)

Report this review (#65334) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars There is not really that much to say about this album, in my opinion. It's flat, boring, and have nothing to do with TD's experimental and fringe past. It's an 80's album, and this is absolutely clear, so I think that most prog fans should just skip this. ... (read more)

Report this review (#59177) | Posted by Warholizer | Sunday, December 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Optical Race is one of these "up-beat" albums that Tangerine Dream can come up with once in a while. Edgar Froese and Paul Hasslinger after Chris Franke's departure, produced this excellent record with shorter tracks but with the right amout of energy in the composing and instrumentation. Many ... (read more)

Report this review (#32568) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars With the departure of Chris Franke, Edgar Froese and Paul Haslinger searched for new musical horizons which they obviously cristalized on "Optical Race", released year after "Tyger". This albums marks a remarkable change in TD's music, much to the shock of some of their older fans. Many hate t ... (read more)

Report this review (#32567) | Posted by LaserDave | Wednesday, September 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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