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Tangerine Dream - Cyclone CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.65 | 362 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars I remember the day I bought this album, a lovely shiny thing with great cover art. I hurried home and slapped the vinyl on the platter. As the needle crackled into the first groove and the sound of a vocoder emerged, I noticed on the album sleeve that PETER BAUMANN had left, to be replaced by a vocalist/flautist and a drummer. Oh dear.

Twenty minutes later I was in tears. How could my beloved TANGERINE DREAM have employed a punk vocalist? How could they have destroyed their ambient landscapes with such sounds? They might as well have let off a bomb in the Sistine Chapel, such musical vandals they were.

I have to say that my opinion has changed, more than for any other album in my collection. 'Cyclone' was a provocative album of great daring and - now I'm familiar with their pre-Virgin sound - not a massive departure from their avant-garde roots. Indeed, I'm now convinced it's a work of absolute genius.

'Cyclone' represents the very best of an intersection between three TANGERINE DREAMS: the avant-garde TD of the pre-Virgin 'Pink years', the pastoral and pulsing TD of 'Phaedra' through 'Ricochet', and the prog rock TD of 1979-1983. It is chock-full of pregressive sensibilities, packed to the gunwales with drama and energy, and is hands down the best album of 1978. In my view, of course.

'Bent Cold Sidewalk' leaves me stunned. STEVE JOLLIFFE - an acquaintance of FROESE's from the early 70s - rips out avant-garde vocals, singing in a rough voice backed by an overdubbed octave-lower drone, blowing breathily through his flute like IAN ANDERSON on heat, and screaming out nonsensical sounds like some demented dervish. An acquired taste, certainly, but it can be acquired. JOLLIFFE complements the pulsing sequencers and synth leads perfectly. How delicious this sounds to me now, a fount of drama, a true prog rock masterpiece of a track. It's a fairly standard rock song cut and spliced around a typical TD free-form jam, with busy drumwork and all the insane JOLLIFFE extras (the section from 7:30 is an absolute classic!). Of course the fans hated it: they wanted more of the relaxing synths and pulses to smoke to. How I wish the band hadn't listened! They could have led us far beyond that door, I'm convinced of it. The track finishes with the first appearance of the chorus - genius! - and a genuine climax with JOLLIFFE going mental. You'll never hear anything like this anywhere else.

'Rising Runner' is even more provocative, TD's nod to punk rock. JOLLIFFE shapes his accent to sound like a disaffected punk. The track has all the fascination of a crash between a lorry carrying marshmallows and a trainload of sulphuric acid. Look what the madman does to our gentle prog! You'll hate this, but I think that's the point.

To top it all off, 'Madrigal Meridian' is the best long-form piece the TANGS ever did. It is a sinister twist on their normal sound. The opening as eerie a piece as I've ever heard, all industrial and sharp-edged with some truly delicious effects. When the pulse arrives it's a pile-driver, slamming into the track with the energy of a sequence of explosions rising in frequency and intensity. Yet they make music out of this, and after three minutes in come the blips. The pace is furious, more so than anything else they've done, and reminding me more of 'Phaedra'. The track is lathered in special effects as well as a splendid tune, repeated and varied many times. The bubbling synth solo at about 8:20 onwards is breathtaking, and here we see the benefits of adding a proper drummer: the percussion creates a truly dramatic passage. And - oh joy! - halfway through FROESE unlimbers his guitar and rips out a fuzzed free-form solo, backed by a galloping, hundred-mile-an-hour rhythm. The sheer exuberance of this track always gets me, and I can't help thinking this was the way forward for the band. Gradually the track collapses on itself, the rhythms fading away to be replaced (mercifully) with a classic TD denouement, all soaring synths and enormous clavinet chords fading into a dissonant cello eerily reminiscent of their first album, and finally a sweet violin.

Look, I can't offer you a money-back guarantee here. Chances are you'll hate it at first listen. But to my mind this is one of the truly overlooked gems of progressive music. You don't need to eat tonight, right? Take a gamble, fork over that cash and give it a try. If they look at you strangely, tell them Russell made you do it.

russellk | 5/5 |


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