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Tangerine Dream - Tangram CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.94 | 316 ratings

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3 stars After succumbing to "Force Majeure", I sought out the TD albums most chronologically related, only to be disappointed that neither "Cyclone" nor "Tangram" could compare. Stylistically, "Tangram" is not that dissimilar but it lacks the hard rock touches, dramatics and visuals. This is not surprising given that a tangram is a Chinese puzzle, and the music might reflect the inner workings of an individual struggling to attach the seven shapes together to match a silhouette or outline. Or, as I fear, the music might simply constitute a set of unrelated themes that didn't fit into the last few albums.

Like all the Tangerine Dream work I have heard, "Tangram" cannot simply be dismissed as musical doodling. Hypnotic depths are plumbed and resonate with this listener, more so as they become more familiar, but as a single piece it doesn't possess a lot of coherence for me. Even if the two "sides" had been given names other than "set 1" and "set 2" I might have been happier. The buildup in the first 5 minutes in set 1 is worthy of the best of MIKE OLDFIELD during his minimalist phase. Later, lead guitars and synths make competent melodic contributions but have a "been there" quality to them. Elsewhere are segments reminiscent of the closing part of "Thru Metamorphic Rocks", which was apparently a mistake, so why repeat it? And I think I hear a rip off of the organ sound of the WHO's "Won't Get Fooled Again". The last couple of minutes are admittedly quite lovely.

Set 2 is less immediately appealing, but it also presents more like a single work, at least for the first 10 minutes, with a buildup to an enthusiastic climax of sorts around 6 minutes. If lead guitar is male and keyboards are female, I really do enjoy TD's tendency to an androgynous sound, which is probably a keyboard but is played like a lead guitar. Very few groups I can think of have attained such an achievement or even tried. Unfortunately the last half provides very little of value within its spacey interludes and retreads of familiar themes.

When Tangerine Dream is at their best, they are without peer. When they seem less inspired, as on "Tangram", they are still head and shoulders above most in their genre and beyond. Three solid stars for this brain teaser.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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