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Tangerine Dream - Livemiles CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.33 | 67 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Something is definitely wrong when the best thing about an album is the total amount of music on it. And this twin-performance package from the mid-1980s Froese-Franke- Haslinger formation of Tangerine Dream is certainly generous (if not much else), stretching the capacity of its original vinyl format with a pair of nearly 30-minute, quasi-live concert selections from unrelated gigs in New Mexico and Germany.

A small measure of historical significance gives the album substance, at least among the loyal Tangerine Dream fan base: the Berlin show, from August of 1987, was the last to feature long-time collaborator Chris Franke. He quit the group the following day, after maintaining his corner of the electronic trio (and arguably defining its trademark sound) for over sixteen years.

A TD purist might say the band ceased to function as such at that moment, in the future becoming more a vehicle for its founding father, Edgar Froese, with various guests and family members (notably his own son, Jerome) filling in as necessary. So in one sense this album truly marked the end of an era. Too bad the music itself isn't as momentous, but of course that might have been a factor in Chris Franke's unexpected resignation.

The opening Albuquerque segment is the livelier of the two, with a little more thematic variety than the Berlin excerpt: proof perhaps that Tangerine Dream was, at the time (and within the cultural wasteland of Ronald Reagan's 1980s), more comfortable in the United States than in Europe.

But too many years of assembly-belt soundtracks for crummy Hollywood movies (notably excepting William Friedkin's "Sorcerer", and possible Michael Mann's "Thief") were taking a huge aesthetic toll on the group. One problem with the music here, besides an over- reliance on melody over atmosphere (completely overturning the classic TD template from the early-to-mid 1970s), is the use of electronic percussion, apparently programmed to mimic the skills of a second-rate Arena Rock drummer. Synthetic rhythm can of course be a valid component of genuine modern music (just ask someone like Dieter Moebius, or Alex Patterson). But in the context of these upbeat, ersatz dance grooves it can also sound incredibly cheesy.

Even the audience applause at the end of the track is suspiciously phony, possibly added afterward to provide some sort of enthusiastic background ambience. It may not in fact be a live recording at all, or at least not from the June '86 Albuquerque gig advertised here: fan tapes recorded on the spot supposedly contain none of the music heard on this album.

The Berlin performance meanwhile ambles politely along before just sort or ending, at the 27-minute mark, thus closing the album (and with it, Chris Franke's involvement in the band) on an anticlimactic, unresolved note.

Altogether the album is not unpleasant at all, but (much like the decade itself) the music is too vapid and mundane to generate anything even close to excitement, and especially disappointing coming from an erstwhile groundbreaking ensemble. Awarding it three stars is really an act of charity from a generous fan; the album itself isn't really all that memorable.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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