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MICHAEL HOENIG

Progressive Electronic • Germany


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Michael Hoenig biography
Michael Hoenig is a German synth/electronic composer who started his career in the "cosmic" krautrock classic Agitation Free. He joined the band in 1971 thanks to Michael Gunter. Hoenig notably provided the electronic treatments, spacey and hypnosis synth sounds on "Malesch" (1972) and "second" (1973). His most important contribution in Agitation Free remains in "last" (live, 1974) for the monumental "beatific" electronics and rumbling drones. In march 1975, Hoenig was hired to replace Peter Baumann in Tangerine Dream for an Australian tour and BBC recorded London Royal Albert Hall concert. After his short appearance in Tangerine Dream, Hoenig released two solo albums: Departure From The Northern Wasteland (1978) and Xcept One (1987). Considered as a little classic the first one reveals strong connexions with Tangerine Dream's typical synth arpeggios and abstract atmospheres.
In parallel he worked for several movie soundtracks, including Deadly Encounter, Koyaaniswatsi, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Max Headroom, The Blob, and Dark Skies. He also composed the music for the computer game Baldur's Gate 2.

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Departure From the Northern WastelandDeparture From the Northern Wasteland
Kuckuck Schallplatten 1992
Audio CD$14.04
$8.97 (used)
Xcept OneXcept One
Cinema
Audio CD$99.99
$14.00 (used)
Dark SkiesDark Skies
Soundtrack
Perseverance Records 2006
Audio CD$2.99
$2.82 (used)
Early WaterEarly Water
PID
Audio CD$46.85 (used)
Michael Hoenig - Xcept One - Capitol Records - 1C 064-7469191, Cinema - 1C 064-7469191Michael Hoenig - Xcept One - Capitol Records - 1C 064-7469191, Cinema - 1C 064-7469191
Capitol Records
Vinyl$23.23 (used)
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MICHAEL HOENIG discography


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MICHAEL HOENIG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 29 ratings
Departure From The Northern Wasteland
1978
2.08 | 5 ratings
Xcept One
1987

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MICHAEL HOENIG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was the review by HolyMoly(Steve) that convinced me that I needed this album. I really miss the days of my long(50 minutes each way) commute to work across country, especially those sunny days. Nothing like listening to soundscape music in the comfort of a vehicle during a scenic drive. Michael Hoenig is most known to me for his incredible work while playing for AGITATION FREE. He did join TANGERINE DREAM for a short time then went solo which is where this albums comes in being released in 1978. And yes TANGERINE DREAM is the answer to the question "What does the music sound like ?". The cover art is as stunning as the music by the way and it does remind me of those long drives. By the way Michael does pretty much everything here but his former AGITATION FREE mate Lutz Ulbrich plays double guitar on the title track. Conny Plank helped with the mixing at his studio.

"Departure From The Northern Wasteland" opens in a haunting manner and spacey winds arrive briefly before a minute. What I love about Electronic music is that you can use your imagination while laying on your bed for example with the lights out and headphones on. It starts to pick up and brighten then it kicks in after 2 1/2 minutes with that electronic beat along with those spacey synths. This is a side long suite clocking in at almost 21 minutes as the music shifts and changes in a reserved manner. It calms right down 17 minutes in, then the electronic beat stops.

"Hanging Garden Tranfer" opens with two different electronic beats that pulse deeply. A much fuller sound arrives before 2 minutes. Lots to focus on here as the sounds weave in and around each other. It settles back before 3 1/2 minutes. It's fuller again before 7 minutes but not for long. "Voices Of Where" opens in a laid back manner as sounds drone like they aren't in any hurry. I like this and it continues for about 5 minutes. Some twittering before 5 minutes then voices come in as the sound changes. Voices only before 6 minutes to end it. "Sun And Moon" kicks in with a melodic electronic beat quickly as synths come in over top. This really is like the sun coming up, like they have arrived at their destination. Brighter and happier.

I'm so glad I was able to get my hands on this on this one. Easily 4 stars.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars This is without a doubt the first electronic music album I ever heard, way back around the time it was released, when I was still in grade school. My father played it a lot, and even at that young age I was fascinated by it. This is the kind of electronic music (which by 1978 had already been perfected by the likes of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, though I did not know this at the time) that drifts gently but insistently on a mobile sequenced note pattern, taking a long time to slowly develop from a quiet drone through a melodic synthesizer improvisation, and receding back into a quiet drone again. So goes the side-long title track, which even today plays like a soundtrack to my youth. It's a "travel" piece, an electronic voyage whose goal is not to dazzle nor surprise nor frighten, but to paint a picture, a mind movie.

Side two opens with the similar "Hanging Garden Transfer", also built on an arpeggiated sequencer riff, but the mood has a greater tension, more urgency than before. "Voices of Where" has several minutes of rhythm-less drone, gradually replaced by a mass of chanting voices. A fairly disposable track. But the final track is really something else - "Sun and Moon", a brief 4 minute number that, though built on the same basic template as the other sequencer pieces, actually has the feel of a song with a verse/chorus format. I don't recall Tangerine Dream doing much of that kind of thing by 1978. It's a lovely melodic piece with a lead organ sounding akin to an oboe, a very nice touch.

For personal reasons, this is my "go-to" electronic album. Other reviewers have correctly pointed out that there's nothing really new going on here (though I might challenge them to show me another example of a short piece like "Sun and Moon"), and that other more accomplished artists had already done the same thing better. But it has a long history with me personally, and even today with the benefit of a greater familiarity with electronic music, I still think of it as a highly enjoyable, very accessible example of its genre. It's highly melodic, fairly simple, and has plenty of atmosphere. I have no issue recommending it highly to anyone interested in 1970s electronic music - it's not too challenging, but not everything great needs to be.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Yes, I realize Michael Hoenig was briefly a member of TANGERINE DREAM. But only on an interim basis (while Peter Baumann was on sabbatical), and hardly long enough to justify such a blatant exploitation of the classic TD sound.

It's all here: the sequencer patterns; the haphazard soloing; the gentle washes of Mellotron; even the occasional stray guitar riff...every element mechanically reproduced not only in the same cosmetic style but apparently using identical instruments and settings. I can only imagine Edgar Froese shaking his burly head and (hopefully) regarding the effort as a really sincere form of flattery (rather than grounds for litigation).

On a purely superficial level the results are not unpleasant, but at no point does the album show even a trace of the uncanny magic of its obvious role models. Programming a sequencer will always be a lazy way to compose music, but in the hands of an innovator like Froese, Chris Franke, or (maybe especially) Klaus Schulze the results can be stunning. Unlike the rudimentary arpeggios heard on this disc.

And Hoenig was never too comfortable with improvisation, apparently needing endless weeks of rehearsal before stepping foot on stage or in a recording studio. That lack of spontaneity previously capsized a planned collaboration with Klaus Schulze (the duo was to be named Timewind; see the biography on the KS website for details), and the same deliberation had pretty much the same effect on Hoenig's debut solo album as well.

Half a decade earlier it might have left a deeper impression. But by 1978 the so-called Berlin School of electronic music had already begun to lapse into predictable formulas, and this album only hastened the process. I don't mean to sound entirely flippant here, but when you separate the Dream from the Tangerine what's left is only a bowl of fruit, easily spoiled.

The cover art, however, is lovely, and arguably worth owning all by itself.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Michael Hoenig's debut album is firmly rooted in the '70s Berlin school style but also shows strong elements of symphonic prog.

Departure From the Northern Wasteland is purely and electronic album of the highest caliber, but the way the longer compositions flow is leaned heavily into the way that bands like Genesis and Renaissance progress in their own songs. Adding to the rock without rock instruments tone to this album is the very immediate and demanding sound of the dynamic synth basslines that sound somewhat organic (though still very obviously synthetic).

The title track, at just over 20 minutes, is the headpiece of the album and is delightfully progressive. Where some Berlin school style long form compositions can sound very convoluted after the first few minutes, this track adds many layers atop one another but still maintains an open area to rest the ears. The atmosphere is very dark like setting off on a long voyage during a day with a dark gray overcast of clouds with thunder rumbling in the distance. The sound of this entire album is rather earthbound than most Berlin school style albums. "Hanging Garden Transfer" follows in the same atmosphere, but has much more urgency to it.

"Voices of Where", though one of the two shorter tracks on this album, is very beautiful. It's very light an airy with a light wavering sound that you'd expect from a mellotron. Because of this, it sounds similar to the short bursts of beauty found on the interludes on various Genesis albums. "Sun and Moon" ends the album on another bass driven Berlin school style track with a slight feeling of accomplishment and hopefulness.

Departure From the Northern Wasteland is one of the most interesting and compelling progressive electronic albums that I've heard from an artist that has remained mostly obscured. Anyone interested in this genre should take out some time to experience this album; I assure you that your efforts will not be wasted, especially if you're already a fan of ethereal symphonic prog.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by NDMET

4 stars Before the official release of the Departure From the Northern Wasteland LP in 1978, a 7-inch promotional LP was made available to the general public. I was in college at the time, and my roommate showed me an advertisement for the promo in the issue of ROLLING STONE that he was reading. The promo was either free or very cheap, because I sent away for it. I was not familiar with Michael Hoenig, but my roommate knew that he was a member of Tangerine Dream and predicted that I would not be disappointed.

Even though my record collection back then included albums by Yes, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Crack the Sky, and even Vangelis, I was not yet a self-acknowledged prog-head. I listened to the promo once when it arrived, had a neutral opinion of it, and added it to my stack of 45s, where it remained neglected for decades.

When I finally listened to it again, as a fully-fledged prog-head, I was extremely impressed. The record had two excerpts from the title track, and excerpts from "Hanging Garden Transfer" and "Sun and Moon". It prompted me to buy the LP, which I finally found in a used record store. Upon listening to the LP, I was astounded.

The track "Voices of Where" prevents this album from achieving 5-star status. I think it was no accident that the promo omitted an excerpt from this song. The odd vocals at the end are very out of place. But that is the only negative comment I have about this album.

The music is beautiful, relaxing, and timeless. It captures the imagination. I echo my roommate's advice from long ago ? you will not be disappointed.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A dramatic electronic album, reminiscent in its pulsing bassline and command of atmosphere of the best of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze from around this period, although a bit more diverse in sound than either. Hoenig's command of atmosphere is particularly impressive, with sounds ranging from the spooky and haunting to the majestic and futuristic - album closer Sun and Moon is positively upbeat, in a cyberpunk sort of way. A particularly good pick for anyone hungry for more top-shelf Tangerine Dream-esque albums in their mid-1970s style - and I suspect the majority of progressive electronic fans will fall into this category.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by greenback
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is melodramatic electronic music, some kind of sequenced new age that keeps the listener alert instead of relaxing him. The style is a mix of early Synergy (Larry fast), Jean- Michel Jarre and the Tangerine Dream of the mid 70's. Actually most of this record sounds like Ricochet (Tangerine dream). The difference is that Froese's guitar gives Ricochet a more rock dimension to the electronic ensemble. For those who do not know Ricochet, let's say that here there is an omnipresent bass synthesizer beat (sequencer) that changes its pattern occasionally, there are higher keyboards notes that make a certain melody, and there are floating keyboards to complete the ensemble. Those 3 layers do not necessarily play together simultaneously: indeed the sequenced beat can start later after the beginning of the piece. The record is not symphonic, like it is the case for the first Synergy album.

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Let's go straight to the point: If you are fond of mid 70s Tangerine Dream, you will enjoy for sure this album. Departure From The Northern Wasteland is crafted in the same stone than Ricochet and Encore, minus the guitars. With this record, Michael Hoenig offers beautiful, contemplative and inspired electronic music dispatched in four pieces, mostly instrumental.

The title track is undoubtly the highlight of the disc. Perfectly sequenced, synthetizers' themes evolve slowly and superposing mellotron waves reveal magic and crystalline landscapes. The song fades away softly during its final part. The tune could have well figured on a Tangerine Dream release. The next track, Hanging Garden Transfer, displays a much faster, colder and more robotic sound. There are truely very trippy and catchy passages in it. Voices Of Where arrives as a surprise, as it features no rythm and hardly no sequencing at all, mainly mellotron and backing vocals. The tune is relaxing but is also the weakest of the album, as it tends to be repetitive by moments. This is easily catched up with the ending track, Sun And Moon, which brings the sequencer back. It is at first glance reminiscent of Ashra's New Age Of Earth. Then keyboards become more energic to offer a quite enchanting and spacey futuristic conclusion.

Not terrificly new but very inspired, Departure From The Northern Wasteland is quite similar to the albums from the classic Tangerine Dream line up with Baumann. It was released the same year the band tried to change their sound, to create something else. However, this album proves that Michael Hoenig can rank among the best electronic progressive german musicians. It's a pity he hadn't recorded more albums (the next one, Xcept One, is rather deceiving). Highly recommended to TD fans !

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 Xcept One by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.08 | 5 ratings

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Xcept One
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

2 stars For those looking for something like Departure From The Northern Wasteland, this is clearly not the place to go. Recorded in Los Angeles, very different from his 70s' acts, Xcept One announces Hoenig's future interests in movie, TV serie and video game soundtracks. However, despite some good moments and great keyboardist collaborations, the album features mainly rather average electronic music with very dated 80s' synthetizers.

The record opens with the title track, which starts good, but become quickly repetitive and uninspired. Bones on the Beach is one of two worthy passages here, with its mysterious atmosphere, its pulsing keyboard and its catchy melody, in the vein of Tangerine Dream's Underwater Sunlight's songs. The calm comes back with the small ambient piece Forgotten Thoughs, which is not bad, but not good either, in fact not very original for the late 80s. The next track, Scatter part I, is the most dated, repetitive and irritating of the disc. The minimalist composer Harold Budd participated to the composition of Spectral Gong. The result is a quite relaxing tune. Again, anjoyable, but not terribly new. The album concludes with its other worthy moment, Scatter Part II, undoubtly better than Part I. This fun theme could have well been used for a video game.

With Xcept One, Michael Hoenig delivers an album containing hardly half good and half bad electronic songs. Better go with Departure From The Northern Wasteland, far more enchanting and far less dated... 2,5 stars

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 Departure From The Northern Wasteland by HOENIG, MICHAEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.70 | 29 ratings

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Departure From The Northern Wasteland
Michael Hoenig Progressive Electronic

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars "Repitition is the image of eternity in music"

When band members decide to go solo or to make a solo album while remaining in the band, it is normally because they want to explore alternative musical avenues. Perhaps their submissions have been rejected by the band because they do not fit in with the sound. Perhaps they simply want to make the jazz/pop/rock etc. album they've always felt was in them.

Not so it seems with Tangerine Dream. Although Hoenig was only a member for a brief time, "Departure from the Northern Wastelands" is a perfect facsimile of a Tangs album by any other name. The title track, which occupies the whole of side one of the LP, even has the same type of structure as pieces such as "Rubicon", with a mellow, floating start leading to a repeating trance rhythm and extended synthesiser improvisation. The sound is pleasant, indeed highly enjoyable, even if the over riding impression is one of heard it all before.

Side two has a further three tracks, of which "Hanging garden transfer" is simply a continuation of side one, running for a further 10 minutes. Only "Voices of where" attempts to break the mould, the processed vocals sounding rather out of place. Normal service is however resumed with the closing "Sun and moon".

Those who enjoy the music of Tangerine Dream, especially their mid-late 1970's period, need have no worries about enjoying this album. It is to all intents and purposes a Tangs album.

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