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Tangerine Dream - 220 Volt Live CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

2.96 | 54 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Tangerine Dream never enjoyed the same respect in the 1990s as the band responsible for such elemental masterpieces like "Rubycon" and "Ricochet", but that was twenty years earlier. Let's face it: by the time Edgar Froese re-tooled the group to include his son Jerome (whose infant face had adorned so many of his dad's early record sleeves), the music was hardly what anyone would call cutting edge.

But I freely admit to having developed a soft spot for this disc: a quasi-live recording from their 1992 North American tour, and perhaps the quintessential snapshot, for better or worse, of the new TD nearing the start of the next millennium.

It was, as then soon-to-be-ousted President George H.W. Bush might have said, a "kinder, gentler" Tangerine Dream: no longer pioneers of counter-culture electronic meditation, now closer in style to the more audience-friendly aesthetics of JEAN- MICHEL JARRE and VANGELIS. Coincidentally (or not?), the opening fanfare here has more than a slight echo of the Oscar® winning "Chariots of Fire" theme.

Happily, the trademark synth-and-sequencer rhythm and bounce of classic Tangerine Dream is alive and reasonably healthy, dolled up in a bright new digital wardrobe but still irresistible whenever it canters over the horizon. Sure, it's a more earthbound, antiseptic facsimile of the original TD sound, thanks in part to the macho, arena-rock riffing of guitarist Zlatko Perica. And Linda Spa handles her saxophone with an open-hearted grace and dexterity that occasionally tips the music uncomfortably close to a blissful New Age narcolepsy unheard of in the band's proto-ambient infancy (and almost guaranteed to make any old-school fan shudder in his anorak).

But the softer interludes fit snugly alongside the more kinetic dance floor grooves, forming a near-mesmerizing, homogenous flow of uninterrupted music, all of it showing a melodic flair the old TD couldn't hope (or in truth never wanted) to match (the first four tracks work almost like a single 34+ minute non-stop medley). As always with Tangerine Dream the original concert tapes were enhanced in the studio afterward, to a point where it's damn near impossible to distinguish between the live performance and the previously unreleased studio track ("Treasure of Innocence"), tacked on here to fill an already generous CD to its limit.

Of course all the music here is new: again, a habit with live TD. The one exception is the unexpected encore, a cover of (believe it or not) the old Jimi Hendrix chestnut "Purple Haze". It's an entertaining novelty to be sure, but in retrospect also a somewhat mechanical plod compared to the empyrean heights achieved elsewhere on the disc.

Never mind. The song at least earned the band their third Grammy® Award nomination (an honor any self-respecting musician should regard as an insult to the creative spirit). And for listeners still clinging to that early '70s counter-culture lifeboat it offers a final measure of the distance Edgar Froese had traveled from his Krautrock roots.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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