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Michael Hoenig - Departure From The Northern Wasteland CD (album) cover


Michael Hoenig


Progressive Electronic

3.77 | 53 ratings

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2 stars Yes, I realize Michael Hoenig was briefly a member of TANGERINE DREAM. But only on an interim basis (while Peter Baumann was on sabbatical), and hardly long enough to justify such a blatant exploitation of the classic TD sound.

It's all here: the sequencer patterns; the haphazard soloing; the gentle washes of Mellotron; even the occasional stray guitar riff...every element mechanically reproduced not only in the same cosmetic style but apparently using identical instruments and settings. I can only imagine Edgar Froese shaking his burly head and (hopefully) regarding the effort as a really sincere form of flattery (rather than grounds for litigation).

On a purely superficial level the results are not unpleasant, but at no point does the album show even a trace of the uncanny magic of its obvious role models. Programming a sequencer will always be a lazy way to compose music, but in the hands of an innovator like Froese, Chris Franke, or (maybe especially) Klaus Schulze the results can be stunning. Unlike the rudimentary arpeggios heard on this disc.

And Hoenig was never too comfortable with improvisation, apparently needing endless weeks of rehearsal before stepping foot on stage or in a recording studio. That lack of spontaneity previously capsized a planned collaboration with Klaus Schulze (the duo was to be named Timewind; see the biography on the KS website for details), and the same deliberation had pretty much the same effect on Hoenig's debut solo album as well.

Half a decade earlier it might have left a deeper impression. But by 1978 the so-called Berlin School of electronic music had already begun to lapse into predictable formulas, and this album only hastened the process. I don't mean to sound entirely flippant here, but when you separate the Dream from the Tangerine what's left is only a bowl of fruit, easily spoiled.

The cover art, however, is lovely, and arguably worth owning all by itself.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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