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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

4.17 | 828 ratings

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4 stars Like a snow cyborg, cold and robotic: 8/10

I'll be honest: I never liked electronic music. I have always associated it, on its entirety, to EDM - almost like bigotry -, which in turn alienated me from exploring it further. It was a shocker to discover how old and prolific electronic music is, not to mention the fact that - behold! - EDM isn't electronic music's only branch, let alone its most influential (at least on evolutionary terms). This review, then, is from the mind of a layman first introduced to this.

The first thing I noticed as I discovered TANGERINE DREAM is how groundbreaking their music was for their time. I wasn't surprised, especially after listening. I assume that, especially on their epoch, this unconventional stuff was an eerie sight. There are no riffs, no sections, no structure. This makes PHAEDRA entirely cold, robotic, experimentative; a lifeless tool. I don't see this as a problem though, because electricity is by default lifeless, and electronic music's proposition has never been to create "impacting, heartfelt melodies". However, it's not "artless" rabble like EDM. PHAEDRA has a purpose, originality, it has no life just like EDM but it's not a repetitive, meaningless bunch of artificial noises put together to make people mindlessly dance to.

PHAEDRA, generally, is cold and rather indifferent. As I said, it's experimentative, and it bases itself mostly on central "melodic pieces" (consider this a synonym of "proto-riff") sprinkled with countless effects. I'll go more specific on each track down below.

Phaedra sounds "futuristic", rushed, nervous and even dark. Look at the album cover: it is a mysterious, abstract object. Just like Phaedra's sound. It feels distant, in distraught, "uncertain". I imagined a foggy, snowy and dense forest as I listened to this. This rather creepy imagery doesn't make the song uninteresting or aversive, au contrair, it's an attraction. The first part features an up-tempo bass-y keyboard arpeggio (that consists the "melodic piece") whose limelight is often stolen by countless different electronic effects that overlap it. The second part is chilly, as if you just entered a huge, dimly lit cathedral, and you can hear the environment's quietude, the immensity's silent ambience. There is also this weird effect that sounds like a dog's high-pitched whine. Highly anxious and intense, it's a definitely interesting song.

Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmare is symphonic and immersive. Whatever is the disturbance that made Phaedra so uneasy has been deal with, and now things are calmer. While it sounds cozier, like a choral, I enjoyed better the previous track's constant intervention of effects that broke the sound's stillness. It made it more dynamic. I also find the title rather ironic, considering the ominous image brought is not fitting for the track. "Choir of Angels In An Empty Forest", at least as I see it, kind of is.

Movements Of A Visionary focus most of its three first minutes on distorted rattling effects that sounds more often than not like a sack of pearls being stirred, chirping insects on a dense jungle, a maddened xylophone, and a locomotive's movement. The second part swaps to a more "conventional" sonority, abandoning part. It features a sweet duet of Phaedra's first section's arpeggio and a hymnal organ (shyly present in the first section). I like to imagine this section as a crystalline, translucent composition crafted on a sparkling ice castle under a boreal night. t breaks the album's hitherto electronic experimentation approach, sounding more like musical logic. Its variated, melodic and immersive experimentation convinced me to adopt it as my favorite track from the album.

Sequent C''s , for me, is in-between synthesized Japanese-esque flutes and electronic violin. It's enigmatic, meditative, faraway. I think it's too short though, it had potential on becoming something interesting.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this experience. I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as pleasing as it was, considering my - now extinct - prejudice for electronic music. I believe this is a great introduction for laypeople. Important to note is that PHAEDRA's frostiness might be harsh to embrace, so more than a single listen will be necessary. Afterwards, it'll not feel warmer, but you'll learn to enjoy the cold.

Luqueasaur | 4/5 |


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