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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

4.17 | 880 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Prog Archives review guidelines caution against indiscriminate abuse of the 5-star rating, but honestly: how could a recording of this magnitude not be credited as essential listening, even if only from a purely historical perspective? Tangerine Dream would go on to make better albums: compare this one to something like "Ricochet", the band's first (quasi) live recording, released only two short years later but showing a remarkable leap forward in sophistication and style. But none would have the immediate impact or lasting influence of this breakthrough 1972 effort, which almost single-handedly lifted serious electronic music out of the avant-garde ghetto into the rarified air of the rock music charts.

In retrospect it might be hard to appreciate exactly how popular the album once was, or why it should have been so successful. The stone-age synthetic rhythms can sound woefully antiquated to modern ears spoiled by more than three decades of subsequent technological progress. Listen closely to the 17+ minute title track, and at one point you can actually hear the sequencer tuning gradually coming unglued, cueing a quick fade to safer atonal territory.

Primitive or not, the album still managed to almost crack the Top 10 in a crowded UK marketplace, selling more than a million copies in that country alone: quite an accomplishment for a trio of Germans operating well outside the already wide-open musical terrain of the early '70s. Maybe audiences, like musicians at the time, were simply more adventurous then than now: try to imagine something equally as radical enjoying the same sort of mainstream success in our own (mostly) toothless consumer-entertainment culture.

As with any new language, musical or otherwise, the voice has to emerge before a vocabulary can be established. This was the album on which Tangerine Dream found its voice, and with only a little mental arithmetic it's still possible to recapture the exhilaration of hearing, as if for the first time, what must have seemed like an entirely new plateau of musical evolution.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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