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Tangerine Dream - Phaedra CD (album) cover

PHAEDRA

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

4.17 | 823 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 333

Tangerine Dream is unquestionably one of the most influential electronic groups of all time, probably the best of all. Their music has made an immeasurable impact on ambient, new age, techno, trance, and progressive rock, as well as modern film score composition. Founded as a psychedelic rock group in 1967 by Edgar Froese, the group was initially associated with the Krautrock scene through early abstract albums, 1970's 'Electronic Meditation', 1971's 'Alpha Centauri', 1972's 'Zeit' and 1973's 'Atem'. Those albums belong of what is usually called 'The Pink Years'.They pioneered the use of sequencers and synthesizers and was only from 1974 that the classic albums appear like their greatest masterpieces, 1974's, 'Phaedra' and 1975's 'Rubycon' and 'Ricochet', which proved to be commercially successful. They became also prolific film composers. Subsequent albums in the 80's incorporated more digital instrumentation, as well as shorter, more pop oriented compositions than their earlier epics. During the 90's, with some albums they were closer to the forms of dance music that Tangerine Dream has heavily influenced. During the 21st century, the band gradually drifted back toward the sequencer driven sound they had pioneered during the 70's. Tangerine Dream is still active today having released almost 100 studio albums in their lengthy and very prolific career.

So, it was with Tangerine Dream's debut for Virgin is rightfully and deservedly regarded as one of their definitive classics, which everything really began to the band. 'Phaedra' is one of the most important, artistic, and exciting works in the history of the electronic music, a brilliant and compelling summation of Tangerine Dream's early avant- space direction balanced with the synthesizer/sequencer technology just beginning to gain a foothold in non academic circles. 'Phaedra' showed not only that the band's set of equipment obviously had grown a lot bigger and more expensive since their early days, but also that their musical expression had evolved and progressed without losing any of the depth and mysticism of their best works in their first phase. The most noticeable new feature in their sound was the inclusion of complex, sequenced electronic rhythm patterns that slowly evolved and changed shape underneath the atmospheric sounds of Moogs, Mellotrons, flute and lots of various electronic equipments massively used in the future.

'Phaedra' has only four tracks, but all I wrote before came into full bloom on the 17 minute title track that would set a whole new standard for the Tangerine Dream's sound. The minimalism of their first albums was pretty much gone, as the sequenced rhythms provided the band with a rich and fat sound stuffed to the rim with mystical and delightful atmospheres. Given focus by the arpeggiated trance that drifts in and out of the mix, the track progresses through several passages including a few surprisingly melodic keyboard lines and an assortment of eerie Moog and Mellotron effects, gaseous explosions, and windy sirens. Despite the impending chaos, the track sounds more like a carefully composed classical work than an unrestrained piece of noise. The climax of the track comes surprisingly enough after the sequencer has stopped, and makes room for a sinister and incredibly moody part filled with Mellotron, gongs and haunting electronic sounds, building up some of the most fantastic atmospheres ever created by humans. And to add to the feel of beyond and mystery, some distant and faint sounds of children playing can be heard several seconds after the track has ended. It's really an amazing track that would become a standard track in the next future of their music.

While the title track takes the cake, there are three other excellent tracks on 'Phaedra'. The second side opens with the nearly 10 minute 'Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares' that reportedly was a pure solo number by Froese. It consists almost entirely of grandiose washes of Mellotrons, but also some spacey electronic sounds. The opening of 'Movements Of A Visionary' seems to improve the voice experiments from their previous album 'Atem'. The rest of the track consists of a warm and comforting organ improvising around the sequenced rhythms that now was one of the band's main trademarks. It's a more experimental piece, using treated voices and whispers to drive its hypnotic arpeggios. The brief piece 'Sequent C'' closes the album in a moody way, a piece of ethereal, floating beauty.

Conclusion: 'Phaedra' is often regarded as a groundbreaking album that was shaped by an experimental sound, with structured sound sequences that present themselves to the listener in an atmosphere space like manner. 'Phaedra' leads in monotone electronics at the beginning directly into the wide world of the universe and knows how to create a monotone trance in cosmically designed sound surfaces. In the further course, the cool unapproachability of the electronics unites with organic looking mellotron inserts, which is accompanied by more rhythmic sound elements. The way into unexplored galaxies is, thus, effectively relaxed. Perhaps even more powerful as a musical landmark now than when it was recorded. 'Phaedra' has proven the test of time. The 70's was a time of music taste and intelligence, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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