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Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation CD (album) cover

ELECTRONIC MEDITATION

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.36 | 307 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars The 60s has to be one of the craziest decades EVER in the history of humanity, and without a doubt especially for the world of rock music. When the decade began the most crazy thing going on was Chubby Checker doing "The Twist" with a backdrop of ceaseless Elvis Presley singles bombarding the radio waves and perhaps the most experimental deed one could muster up was sporting a new kind of hair wax while hanging out at the local malt shop. But once The Beatles hit the scene and quickly evolved, it seems like the entire rock universe splintered into an infinity of possibilities. While a few a scant few old school bands like The Monkees were manufactured to fill the void of grandparent friendly pop rock, much of the exploding rock universe would engage rather in reaching to the stars and beyond to create wild and hitherto unheard sounds that while a million miles from the rock and roll of only ten years prior, would technically still qualify as rock music (Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine just to name a few.)

While some were anchored within the rock paradigm on their own terms others were on the verge of becoming completely liberated from rock music's gravitational force thus allowing them to blast off into the farthest reaches of space where any notions of the limit were gleefully shed like a rocket booster free from planetary grasp. And that's where we get to one of Germany's best known experimental artists of the era, TANGERINE DREAM. While Germany's most famous experimental electronic fantastical sound makers are the stuff of legendary status in the 21st century, this band which has only seen Edgar Froese as its constant member since its humble origins in 1967 until his death in 2015 actually began more imbued with the psychedelic rock paradigm of the 60s than the ambient kosmische new age laced electronic phenomenon that it would become in the 70s. Not surprising since Froese himself would embark on a similar journey of the English speaking world and test the waters in the psychedelic pop universe with his short lived beat ensemble The Ones.

The story of TANGERINE DREAM is equally as fascinating as the explorative sonic experiments that they explored. While the English speaking world was focused on creating bands to craft clever hooky pop songs tinged with psychedelia, places like Germany found a more ambitious crowd of musicians who wanted to take the promises of "Saucerful Of Secrets" era Pink Floyd and steer them further into the far reaches of space, outer, inner and beyond. Spearheaded by founder Edgar Froese who himself was tempted into the beat culture with his band The Ones, he quickly outgrew the limiting factors as his admiration for one Jimi Hendrix advanced and cemented after meeting the ultimate artistic surrealist Salvador Dali who inspired the earliest incarnation of TANGERINE DREAM which adopted a line from The Beatles' anthem for mind expansion in "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and made it their own. After meeting the club owner Conrad Schnitzler, who was a disciple and student of Karlheinz Stockhausen, the stage was set for something new to develop. Klaus Schulze would join as the drummer along with organist Jimmy Jackson and soon thereafter the first version of TANGERINE DREAM was born.

While this lineup would barely last through the recording process of the band's debut album ELECTRONIC MEDITATION, it would nonetheless establish the electronic free jazz rock paradigm that contributed to making the German progressive rock standard stand out amongst its Anglo contemporaries despite the obvious influences from the single title track on Floyd's otherworldly call for ET contact "Saucerful Of Secrets." However where Floyd left off, TANGERINE DREAM continued the space journey which was recorded in a rented factory in Berlin in October 1969 by simply utilizing a two-track Revox tape recorder. While the technology was limited, the imaginative scope of the musicians was anything but as the four members juxtaposed clashing jazzy percussive drives with free flying organ runs, guitar glissandos and cello all augmented with a wealth of custom-made electronic devices created by Froese. Included in the mix were the unexplored potentials of sounds of broken glass, burning parchment and dried vegetables! An uncredited Thomas Keyserling also added some atonal flute elements.

While TANGERINE DREAM would become known as one of the most inventive electronic bands of all time, ELECTRONIC MEDITATION is completely unlike their more polished swan songs such as "Phaedra" or "Rubycon," but rather a true Krautrock gem that actually has periods where it rocks such as on "Ashes To Ashes" that offers a rambunctious fuzzed out bluesy guitar solos accompanied by raucous percussive outbursts and a frenetic flute struggling to emerge from the din. The free form rock would be the precursor to the more highly developed electronic wizardry but on ELECTRONIC MEDITATION, the band clearly find themselves closer to the contemporary Krautock origins set forth by bands such as Amon Duul II or early Swedish psychedelia that emerged from the likes of Pärson Sound. Whereas Pink Floyd were kept on a leash and not allowed to leave orbit, TANGERINE DREAM succeeded in completely severing ties with the limitations of the rock paradigm without yet abandoning the rock aspects all together thus creating what could technically be deemed by modern standards as a proto-form of post-rock of sort.

TANGERINE DREAM at this point was an incubator of great talent. Klaus Shculze would leave before the album was even released and would embark on his own fruitful solo career but stuck around long enough to initiate the newbie Chris Franke in as his replacement. Schnitzler would also depart and would carry on these early TANGERINE DREAM experiments on his equally rebellious Kluster. His replacement Steve Shroyder would stick around long enough for the band's second album "Alpha Centauri" leaving Froese as the driving force for the rest of the band's lengthy existence. ELECTRONIC MEDITATION is one of those brilliant albums that emerged in a time when experimentation was the driving and seemingly only force in play. This album displays a group of artists who were unsatisfied by the limiting pop influenced structures of what was deemed psychedelic rock of the day and decidedly took the listener to places never thought possible and owing influence more from the experimental classical music world of Stockhausen than say anything remotely popular of the day. While this album has not gone down in history as TANGERINE DREAM's crowning achievement, it succeeds immensely in creating the surreal sonicscapes that it set out to explore. While clearly steeped in rock in instrumentation only, ELECTRONIC MEDITATION was another example of a band ready to unshackle themselves from what little connection remained and did a rather brilliant job in the process.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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