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Tangerine Dream

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Tangerine Dream Atem album cover
3.59 | 365 ratings | 25 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Atem (20:25)
2. Fauni-Gena (10:43)
3. Circulation Of Events (5:49)
4. Wahn (4:31)

Total Time: 41:28

Bonus CD from 2011 remaster:
1. The Deutschlandhalle Performance (40:00)

Total time 40:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / Mellotron, guitar, organ, voice
- Christoph Franke / organ, VCS3 synth, percussion, voice
- Peter Baumann / organ, VCS3 synth, piano

Releases information

Artwork: Edgar with Monique Froese & Marcel Fugère (photo)

LP Ohr ‎- OMM 556 031 (1973, Germany)

CD Jive Electro ‎- C TANG 2 (1986, UK) New cover art
CD Sequel Records ‎- SEQUEL 1035-2 (1996, US) Remastered by Thomas Heimann-Trosien
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- EREACD 21019 (2011, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman with bonus disc including Live recording at the Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, 29th November 1973.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TANGERINE DREAM Atem ratings distribution

(365 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
5 stars Final album for the Ohr label. Apparently by this point, Edgar Froese was getting unhappy with Rolf Ulrich Kaiser marketing everyone on his label as freaks, and in fact Kaiser would shortly change the name of Ohr to Komische Musik (of course, things would only get worse when Kaiser released those COSMIC JOKERS albums, against the wish of some, especially Klaus Schulze). Anyway, the band continues the same, unusual spacy "music" they did their previous two albums. Only know, Edgar Froese started to include Mellotron, which he put to good use on the the title track, "Fauni Gena", and "Wahn". This is also what I consider their most accessible Ohr album, which isn't saying much (just that it's a single album, rather than a double like "Zeit"), as the music is still just as unstractured with hardly anything call conventional. I love how the album opens up, with strange wind sounds, before the Mellotron and drums kicks in. After several minutes going like this, growing ever more intense, there's this loud explosion, where the music quiets down to strange pulsing and droning sounds.

A lot of this sounds quite sinister, no doubt helped by the cover (done by Edgar Froese). "Fauni Gena" is Edgar Froese's Mellotron tour-de-force, as it's almost nothing but Mellotron (as electronic chirping birds). This sounds like a blueprint for his second solo album, "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale", except for one major difference: this is much more experimental. "Circulation of Events" is another really sinister sounding piece, no doubt caused by the strange droning and odd electronic effects. "Wahn" consists of a bunch of yelling and creaming, with startling percussion, before it ends with Mellotron. For me, I always thought the albums they did for Ohr were the most interesting, the only problem is it's not for everyone. But if you like music that hardly plays it safe, go for this album.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars One could call this one Zeit part 2 because the music is still as dense and impenetrable as that double lp. I have seen this album with a very ugly orange and white cover, but no matter what like Zeit , one should end their dicovery of TD with such an album and not start by those albums. It does have a little more to draw your attention than its predecessor but this is simply very difficult stuff.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars What I said for "Zeit" goes the same for "Atem", only this album is slightly easier to digest, because it is much shorter (originally a single LP) and has what seems to be four distinct "compositions". But do not expect any revolutionary change: this is still electronic space hum without any rythms or melodies. The best parts are: "Fauni Gena" with odd sound effects and eerie ambient atmosphere resembling the walk through the dark forest filled with strange beasts and birds, although a much better similar attempt was done earlier by PINK FLOYD on "Ummagumma"; and "Wahn" with some electroniclly-processed vocal samplings and mellotron noise. Still, quite an impenetrable experience and again for devout electronic fans only.
Review by loserboy
4 stars "Atem" was atmospherically much brighter in contrast to their previous album Zeit". "Atem' (the German word for 'breath') is also one of my favourtite electronic albums from the 70's offering one of the true masterpeices from this genre. Froese, Baumann and Franke blend tons of analog synth and keyboard work to create an outerwordly 42 Minute daydream. Progheads beware as this was the first time TD used the Mellotron on any album. I always thought that Breathe was a fitting title for this album, as it does literally carry the tonal ebbs and flows of the breathing reflex.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I would consider "Atem" as one of the three best studio albums of Tangerine Dream "Zeit" and "Rubycon". The titanic title track opens by entering of howling voices and repeating melodic mantra from drums, presented here with better production quality than on their two previous recordings. This also is much more concrete and aggressive music than on their earlier albums, and there resides a huge dramatic tension within the architecture of this surreal composition. After a climax the sounds move to an enchanting calm space filled with musical shadows and radiant shimmering objects. Slowly new elements start to emerge from the shadows; there are huge masses near the quiet space, affecting from a distance trough gravitational forces of colossal giants, not absorbing however the calm space immediately. There are exceptional tiny details in the larger tonal themes, creating a very physical presence which morphs to a more oppressing and frightful realms of shadows later. Also the atonal moments have decreased to quite small amounts from the previous albums, and in some parts there is a strong "cinematic" feeling, bringing mostly visual visions for me. Fitting the song's name well, "Fauni-Gena" starts with birdlike voices and tender flute melodies. Later stronger motives emerge accompanied by whispering human voices, and the tension grows stronger. Then on "Circulation of Events" a distressing wall of troubled sound is brought alive. Rather than Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells", I would have used this song as a horror movie soundtrack. The last track "Wahn" is a collage of voices similar which were used in Pink Floyd's "Piper at The Gates of Dawn" album, drawing a beautiful conclusion from the au revoirs from flute whistles. Watching the album cover and listening to these noises, I was left with an impression like being contacted by some human but still alien character, touching my mind but leaving the concrete questions and answers from this masterful artistic dialogue.
Review by russellk
2 stars 'Atem' is 'Zeit' in miniature. A snack-sized helping of the starch-laden ambient drone of 1972, 'Atem' is leavened with percussion circa 'Electronic Meditation' and some familiar instruments, bringing this release just a little closer to what might be recognised as 'prog'.

No expense is spared, either, in bringing us this ambient soup. FROESE, FRANKE and BAUMANN are finally together without other musicians, and aim the mellotron, VCS3 synths, percussion, piano, guitar and voice at their composition with intent. The first-mentioned of these devices were rather expensive toys, and give the resulting soundscapes a slightly more familiar cast - though it must be said that 'Atem' is still much more avant-garde than anything TD did subsequently.

Personally I prefer the uncompromising approach of 'Zeit', but 'Atem' was a transitional album, prefiguring the amazing 'Phaedra' that followed - if not in the music, at least in the album's structure. One long composition, one half-side track, and two shorter pieces. What this album emphatically does not have, however, is the trademark FRANKE sequencer sound, that rich pulse which provided the solid underpinning for FROESE and BAUMANN's noodling.

Like its three predecessors, this fourth TANGERINE DREAM album ought to be purchased only by fans of ambient soundscapes and avant-garde music. The casual progger would be best to start with their 1974 release, 'Phaedra'.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The end of the beginning

Tangerine Dream released this their fourth album, and final album for Ohr Records, in 1973. After the totally impenetrable "Zeit", it was to be hoped that "Atem" would offer something at least a little more accessible, if not melodic. The indications were certainly promising, with just one side long track, and three pieces on side two of the album.

The early presence of thumping drums on the 20 minute title track which kicks off the album also indicates that we can expect a bit more in the way of rhythm and melody than has gone before. From the start, the dominant sound is of various synthesisers delivering both the main themes and the accompanying effects. Here though, we also see Froese adding mellotron and thus creating the lush, orchestral layers on which the album is based. Before getting too carried away, I should emphasise that this set remains rooted in the avant-garde, with little in the way of discernible music as such. The track certainly offers more variety in the way of volume, sounds and pace, but do not expect to remember a single sequence after listening.

Side 2 of the LP has 3 distinct tracks, the longest of which is the 10+ minute "Fauna gena". Here, jungle effects combine with floating mellotron to paint a landscape picture, the music being ideal for use with a suitable film or documentary.

"Circulation of events" is simply an abbreviated adaptation of what has gone before, but "Whan" is a bit different. In relative terms, the band let their hair down slightly here. It is not exactly whacky, but there are a few unexpected sounds and effects.

In all, "Atem" sees Tangerine Dream beginning their drift into the more accessible melodic style which would become their trademark. It represents something of a transitional album, remaining rooted in the challenging musicless style of their previous releases, but with firm indications that era is coming to a close.

Tangerine Dream would go on to record one more album for Ohr records called "Green Desert", but the release of the album became embroiled in the legal complexities of their move to Virgin Records and it did not actually appear until many years later.

Review by Dobermensch
5 stars My favourite Tangerine Dream album ever. Just slightly better than Rubycon and much bleaker. I remember being sick in bed in 1987, looking out my bedroom window watching large flakes of snow fall while playing this. Ahh!, weird memories. This is the one that BBC DJ John Peel lauded to the skies, which is surprising because I hated most of the stuff he played.

Imagine 'Zeit' but a bit more lively. That's 'Atem'. Simple as that. Easily the best of their first 4 'noisy' less tuneful albums. Sounds great in 2009 and well worth 5 stars even though the whole thing sounds like someone's creeping up behind you ready to give you a great big fright!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With this album, Tangerine Dream closes down a stage of constant electronic experimentation in a sustained spiral of maturation toward the sort of stylish frameworks to be elaborated from the "Phaedra" album onwards. "Atem" is, in short, one step in the assessment process that the trio of Franke, Froese and Boemann has been delivering from the days of that magnificent exercise on minimalism entitled "Zeit". Evidently, TD is aiming at becoming more expressionist and more expansive concerning the instrumental interactions among all members. The opener kicks off with a fabulous storm of mellotron layers accompanied by organ washes and ominous percussion- the transition from a 5/4 tempo to a tribal development shows a musical road that gets started from an orchestral point of view and ends on a more visceral note. This is an amazing introduction, full of magic, power and sinister vibrations. The synthesizer ornaments that go appearing enhance the mellotron's motifs quite proficiently. The track's first 6 minutes incarnate a perfect continuation of the then recent PF legacy from "Ummagumma", but there's still 15 more minutes to go. The remaining atmospheres are less loud, focusing on a combination of deceitful calm and overwhelming mystery, as if the sounds were ordained to conceal something disturbing that never really shows off. The relentless minimalism of "Zeit" is partially recovered here, but like I said earlier, the sonic sources are more expansive and less restrained, even signaling at times at the rough dynamics of the "Alpha Centauri" album. The somber moods get subtly augmented by the 10 minute mark, with the VCS loops and Farfisa's dreamy layers filling the starring role. Some guitar effects and mellotron ornaments get in from time to time, ultimately leading to a fade-out featuring the synth's lower notes. The album's second half starts with 'Fauni Gena', an 11 minute piece that pretty much anticipates the sort of precious atmospheres to be worked on during the 74-77 era. The mellotron flute leads most of the alleatory developments of the ethereal musical ideas that go emerging by: the other keyboards start quite mysterious, but when the mellotron strings take hold of the instrumentation, things become less mysterious and more solemn. 'Circulation of Events', on the other hand, states a sort of transition between "Zeit" and the new TD airs, although generally speaking it can be described as yet another example of carefully developed atmospheres. 'Wahn' is quite a peculiar epilogue to the album: its vocal and percussive resources feel quite rare, as if TD was taking a final look back at the "Electronic Meditation" days, even when the mellotron (the band's new found "toy") settles in to add extra colors to the fold. Despite the bizarre aura provided by this closer, "Atem" is a most powerful transitional album that reveals a high level of creativity from the TD guys during these years of musical restlessness and preoccupations for what lies on the artistic horizons.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This album is a more conventional TD work and more digestible album than their prior and much debated ''Zeit''.

''Atem'' is a fine preview of even better things to come (''Phaedra''). The magic operates almost throughout this album even if the title track overshadows the whole of this work.

It is actually a good album which will bring you to the boundaries of our musical system. But so will they do for a long time. It is just incredible to imagine that this music was released some thirty-five years ago! Rather underground and avant-garde at the time, the band could impose its views and became a solid actor in the music industry.

One flaw maybe here: the average ''Circulation Of Events''. But the whole is again a wonderful trip to the outer world. I guess that this is what we all are looking for while listening to TD.

A special mention to the mysterious ''Fauni Gena''. It is my fave from the album and a very emotional, but cold (or icy?) anthem. So is the work of this important band.

Three stars.

Review by Matthew T
4 stars Surreal would be the best way to describe the music and like good Avante Garde Jazz this music creates an atmosphere and Avante Garde and ambient is the structure of these electronic compositions. The songs are all credited to the band which comprised of Edgar Froese, Christopher Frank and Peter Baumann. Christopher Frank handles all the drums and percussion but all the band play organ at some point throughout with Edgar Froese on the Mellotron ,Guitar. Peter Baumann and Christopher Frank play the old Putney VCS3 synth as well.Voices ( vocals) are only on the last track from this album.

Atem the first track to commence the album is the longest with a running time of just over 20 minutes and basically is a slow build up with same main sequence over a layer of synth which is really only the first 1/3 of the track which then drops off and ambient would be the best way to descibe the remainder of the composition. I will admit that trying to describe the tracks on this album seems ludricous as you really need to hear them for yourself.

With sounds throughout like birds, water, insects wind etc over synths and organs you have a true soundscape and yet this album to me seems dark at the same time. It is not suprising that Edgar Froese is constantly doing soundtracks as his compositions are so vivid yet you still hear this album without even trying to listen to it.

Edgar Froese is a pioneer in elecronic and ambient music and this is the last album that Tangerine Dream would record on the Ohr Label. Coming from Germany the band has that distinct slant on progressive music with what seems to be only created in Europe. The album to follow Phaedra will be regarded as their best by many and will cement the bands position in Electronic music forever.

Great album and something really different for 1973.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Again another TD release that tends to suffer from some criticism which perlpexes this reviewer. Still in the realms of new territories and released after the austere and cold magnum opus Zeit, Atem actually shows TD evolving as their soundscapes hint at more accessible music in general with the Virgin label. Atem is 20 minutes of moody, spatial oblivion taking you on a ride to the furthest galaxies and back and leaves the listener eagerly waiting the remainder of the work to unfold. On " Fauna Gena" the synth sounds point in the direction of later works like Rubycon and Stratosfear. Beautiful music in a metamorphic state, bird calls calling out not disimilar to PF's Cirrus Minor. " Circulation of Events" is largely non descript but with some pleasant percussive echoes playing out the piece. " Wahn" is an eight minute work which perhaps is the most unusual on Atem, with some great backing vocals and percussion adding to the synts and keyboards. Not the first or last time TD experimented with voice on their largely instrumental works. The songs plays out smoothly to make for a perfect ending, so all in all another classic from TD which will be revered for many years to come, remarkeably they had even more wonderful journeys to showpiece. Four solid stars.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Just reading what instruments Froese, Baumann and Franke played on this album got me excited. All three play organ while two play synths (including Big Moog) and the other mellotron. Add piano, guitar, vocals and drums. This would be the last album they would do for Ohr Records. The first four album do have that Krautrock spirit about them but that would all change when they moved to Virgin Records. What makes this one a little different from the previous two is the mellotron. It's still dark and ambient but it almost seems like it would have been more suited as the second album bridging the debut to the dark, spacey soundscapes that would follow.

"Atem" means "Breath" and it's the side long opener. It sounds like the wind is slowly pulsating then the martial drumming comes in. It's all more intense before 3 1/2 minutes. Quite the drum show after 4 1/2 minutes. A calm a minute later and here comes the mellotron. It's dark and spacey. Big Moog after 10 minutes and before 11 minutes. Percussion sounds before 12 minutes then the Big Moog is back.Organ follows. Sounds get louder before 18 minutes.

"Fauni Gena" opens with melltron and synths then suddenly it sounds like were in the jungle. I can't help but think of Froese's solo album "Epsilon In Malaysian Pale" here. "Circulation Of Events" features sounds that wash in and out slowly as sounds hum. It's more powerful 3 1/2 minutes in. "Wahn" has these strange vocal expressions followed by loud outbursts of sound. Drums are prominant 2 minutes in, mellotron too.

John Peel claimed this was the album of the year back then. An incredible statement when you consider it was 1973.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Wind...then a sequence of 4 ascending notes, three drum hits (2-pause-1). Who else than Tangerine dream can compose a 20 minutes instrumental suite based on the repetition of for notes and 3 drum hits?

Of course what makes the first part of "Atem" good to listen to is the big amount of variations over this incredibly simple theme and in addition all the excellent percussion work made by Christophe Franke contributes in giving to the suite a lighter weight. While the 4 movements of which Zeit is composed require attention and are totally meditative, Atem is driven into dark realms by the obsessive percussions.

It's only after about 6 minutes that the percussions quit and the organ is left alone. It's like a starship which leaves a planet's athmosphere: first propulsion and noise, then the quietness of the space with no-gravity. The journey is started and the little dissonances seem to signify that there's something outside. This part is similar to the chaotic part of Floyd's Atom Heart Mother, only less chaotic. Square waves come and go. Steps(?). Is it here where the Vangelis' Hell is from?

The suite proceeds quietly, but a high pitched note followed by winds and by a bass square wave note increase the tension. Let's then proceed to the end of the journey.

The side B contains three tracks. "Fauni-Gena" has a classic contemporary feeling. Also it starts rhythmless, but there's a "flute" melody. It reminds me to György Ligeti. If you think that Ligeti is one of the authors used by Kubrick for the soundtrack of his "Space Odyssey" the reference is clear. I think to "Gayane's Adagio" in particular.

"Circulation Of Events" is on the same mood of the previous, but it's more similar to Zeit than to the previous track. It developes in a slow crescendo made of square waves and an organ chord that sometimes is major, sometimes minor and often unstructured. The music is "atonal". The sporadic accents coming from Froese's guitar and the rhythm given by a keyboard are not far from the most experimental works of Vangelis.

"Wahn" (Illusion in German) starts with recorded voices. Then percussions. This is classic contemporary music. Try to listen to Luigi Nono or Karl Heinz Stockhausen. The music of Tangerine Dream in this period is not so distant from them.

What I mean is that the music of this period of Tangerine Dream can help in "making the ears" able to understand a very challenging kind of music like that. (They are still a bit easier).

4 stars

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Atem follows in the same example as the previous Tangerine Dream release, Zeit, in its darkly ambient sound. Different, though, in that this album seems to be only slightly less dark and much more sped up, but overall this album has more variety when compared to Zeit. "Atem", the first track, starts off with a tribal-like beat and ominous mellotron at a remarkably quick pace before turning into an experimental drone. "Wahn" is thoroughly tribal, featuring both tribal percussive beats coupled with periodic bouts of tribal screaming and yelling. "Fauni Gena" is a very airy and ethereal track that includes the organic sounds of birds that call back to the mellotron playing, a method that reminds me of E. Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus.

I didn't find this album as enjoyable as Zeit, but Atem definitely does have a slightly more energetic feel with the tribal elements and sped up composition. Atem seems unique in the Tangerine Dream catalog, but anyone who enjoys Edgar Froese's Epsilon in Malaysian Pale will find much to love in this album.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Tangerine Dream's last album before the jump to Virgin records is a bit of a step down from the high achievements of Zeit, but will be of interest to fans of the band because it provides a series of rough sketches towards the material that would become Phaedra. The same love of Mellotron and predominance of other synthesisers and general move away from the rock instrumentation of their early albums is present, and in general the sound is more laid-back than any of their pre-Zeit works. Don't let the baby's head on the cover fool you - this is a vision of TD's future, not a throwback to Electronic Meditation (where the baby's body can be found...).
Review by baz91
2 stars This might be one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write. This was the album that DJ John Peel hailed as his favourite album of 1973, consequently opening the band up to new waves of listeners. However, Peel must be seeing something that I'm not, as I've found it very difficult to appreciate this album. Being new to the krautrock genre, this avant-garde opus was certainly the wrong place to start. I've learned that Tangerine Dream is an acquired taste, and that the band's so-called 'Pink Years' (which include this album) are mainly for connoisseurs. Still, this intrepid reviewer investigates.

The first track, Atem, would have taken up the whole of Side 1 on the original release, as it is over 20 minutes in length. The first 5 minutes of the track have the feel of a gigantic fanfare. This gets faster and louder and more intense until there is the sound of an explosion towards the sixth minute, as if a rocket has blasted off. Afterwards, we are catapulted into a spacey realm of calm and atmospheric sounds. The track continues like this for the remaining 15 minutes, with various experimental effects being subtly tested while you relax. The most enjoyable parts are when something quite noticeable changes, for instance the loud bass sound heard at 14:17. It's as if the group are trying to lull you into a false sense of security and then suddenly changing the music once you're comfortable. This is definitely the most memorable and enjoyable track from the album.

The original Side 2 contained three songs. The first of these, Fauni-Gena, is a light, repetitive mellotron workout with the sounds of nature in the background. At nearly 11 minutes, this new age track becomes quite tedious after a while. Circulation of Events is also very similar, but only half the length. Only Wahn shows any diversity, with insane wordless vocals heard at the beginning of the track. These sounds are quite unnerving, but give way to a more relaxing mellotron piece with percussion accompaniment.

One thing that I can say for sure about this album is that it has been a whole new experience, though perhaps not an entirely enjoyable one. I'm far too used to things happening in my music for this slow-changing stuff. If you like Tangerine Dream, then you will almost certainly love this album, but for the uninitiated, I recommend you stay as far away from this album as possible, and try some of the group's more accessible albums first.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 8/10

"Atem" brings the listener into places he never imagined existed, deep in the dark corners of space and his mind.

Tangerine Dream, for some fans, found their golden period only after "Phaedra", the official turning point of the band's career. But the so called pink years have a sort of seducing, arcane, and creepy magic to them that makes them sound like albums made by supernatural forces that happened to haunt the studio at those moments. "Atem" is one of the most strongly surreal, magic, and otherworldly albums Tangerine Dream has ever released, an extremely successful attempt in transporting the listener in places he would have never imagined existed, deep in the dark corners of space and of his mind.

Edgar Froese and his fellow partners already gave a wonderful example of Ambient with the previous LP "Zeit", a droned out piece of art that remains, in it's suspended stillness, a landmark achievement of Electronic music. With "Atem" they seem to go towards a direction they partially went on with "Alpha Centauri", however, in that 1971 release, they stopped at halfway. This 1973 release goes all the way down, to the point of no return. Creepy, majestic, epic, "Atem" has a wonderful crystal clear production that makes you doubt this was released in 1973, and gives to the music yet another hint of primordial and futuristism at the same time. The synths sound much more modern, the atmospheres extremely haunting and effective, even when you do hear something like tom drums in the background, it still gives the impressive feeling that human beings had nothing to do with the process of creating this album.

Breathe, is what Atem means. Life is present in this album, and if it is human, it's almost primitive and outnumbered by all the lifeless atmosphere: only on a track like "Wahn", with all it's scary vocal samples shouting and whining, the human form becomes one with the supernatural. But then there is a song such as the twenty minute title track, the bulk of the entire LP, where eerie, spacey soundscapes is all that is heard. What makes this track great is not only it's epic, descending structure, but also it's absolute effectiveness in bringing the listener into strange, dark realms. Then we have the ethereal, dark jungle of "Fauni Gena", for it's entire ten minutes having forest sounds in the background, in the foreground an eerie flute melody that echoes throughout the track. "Circulation Of Events" has a very suspenseful and extremely tense atmosphere, beautifully executed, it has a majestically unique sound that gives once again an impact to the listener, and makes him wonder why it's only about six minutes long. The mentioned "Wahn" closes the album eerily, to leave the listener stunned just after it's closing notes.

"Atem" is one of the most creative and underrated of Tangerine Dream albums, an experience that must be lived by anyone who loves Electronic music. The following album "Phaedra" will have even more advanced sounds, but it won't capture an atmosphere like the one in "Atem".

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Atem' - Tangerine Dream (6/10)

Although most of Tangerine Dream's work (and much early electronic music) evokes the lonesome atmosphere of outer space, "Atem" takes the band's longwinded explorations down another route. Although the palette of sound used here is not far flung from what would be heard in the band's music throughout the early-to-mid seventies, "Atem" takes a less cosmic approach to the sound, instead conveying a sense of twisted natural tranquility. From a sonic perspective, it is on par with much of the band's classic material, drawing upon the themes widely introduced in "Zeit" and condensing them a bit. As promising as Tangerine Dream's use of sound here is however, I'm left feeling the same way I do with many of their albums; the sound is interesting, but the compositions unfortunately aren't.

Perhaps I'm alone in feeling this, but "Atem" does not give me the impression I'm out alone in space. The sense of loneliness is still certainly evident in the longwinded, quiet sound, but the moog synthesizers have been toned down in exchange for earthier-sounding synths. As a result, I'm left feeling like I'm lost in the surreal woodlands out of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 'Mellow' is not really a word to describe "Atem"; the music is incredibly reserved, but it stays rather cold and even unsettling. Perhaps the greatest strength of "Atem" is its effective use of silence. It seems strange that I might cite a lack of music as an album's greatest strength, yet the fact that there is rarely an overt sound or lead gives a foreboding sense that would have lost its potency had Froese and co. riddled it with dense sound.

Details are a big part of "Atem"; whether its the quiet chirping of distant birds, or a subtle synth texture, there is a deceptively large amount to take in and digest. It's unfortunate, then, that on the whole, "Atem" ultimately leaves a cold, unfeeling impression. Only moments tend to resonate with me; the ritualistic and percussive album intro stands tall above all else. Like most of the album's strengths however, these sparks of brilliance never seem to develop into anything substantial, made only more disappointing by the fact that the track lengths offer more than enough room for them to have accomplished it. The second half of the twenty minute title track consists of little more than bristling ambiance amidst the statuesque silence. It's an interesting sonic experiment, but not one that feels entirely successful.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars Lost in a mythological jungle forest

3.5 stars

As the final TANGERINE DREAM studio album for the Ohr label, "Atem" ("breath" in English) marks the end of their ambient "kosmische musik" era. It is also the first appearance of the mellotron, and of Jerome Froese, Edgar's son, on the cover. After this opus, the Germans will make an important usage of sequencers. Whereas "Zeit" was a soundtrack for the interstellar void and eternity, I would describe an "Atem" as a wandering into an ancient jungle, with its hidden temple, vegetation, fauna and inhabitants. The music reintroduces percussions, rhythm and a bit of melody.

The title track can be divided in 3 parts. The thundering overture evokes the building of the pyramids or a ritual to venerate a mythological god. Epic! The theme resembles a little CLUSTER's "Im Süden" from the "Cluster II" album, released one year before. A coincidence? The middle part is much more calm and very ambient, nothing really "happens". My least favourite passage. The final part is darker and more intriguing, like if you were exploring the tunnels of the sacred temple.

With its flute and mellotron, "Fauni-Gena" makes you wandering into a mystical forest. You can hear the fauna with various tropical birds and insects sounds. The threatening "Circulation Of Events" indicates the presence of hostile creatures. The end of the track contains the first use of a sequencer for TANGERINE DREAM. You finally arrive in a village of natives with "Wahn". This ender is the most surprising moment of the record, as it features strange voices and shouts by Froese et Franke. The verbal exchange becomes more and more violent, percussions appear, until the trippy mellotron finale. The dream is now over. Maybe all this was just an illusion ("Wahn" in German), between two breaths.

The Esoteric 2011 CD edition contains a bonus disc featuring a remastered version of a show given in West-Berlin November 29th 1973 and an illustrated booklet. Entitled "The Deutschlandhalle Concert", the music is fully improvised, in the ambient style of "Atem", maybe more cosmic. The sound quality is very good.

The famous BBC DJ John Peel declared "Atem" as his favourite 1973 album and regularly played it on radio. This unexpected promotion made the german band known by a larger audience in England, and sign their first contract with the new label Virgin.

Like its predecessor "Zeit", you have to be in a particular context to appreciate "Atem", and listen to it in one go. Not really accessible, even for TANGERINE DREAM lovers of the mid-70's "golden" era, this fourth studio album is however an essential listen for "kosmische musik", experimental or ambient music fans.

Although marking the end of an era, "Atem" also shows glimpses of the future to come...

Review by patrickq
3 stars On Atem Tangerine Dream is still firmly rooted in 'Krautrock,' the musical scene the group help establish - - or more precisely, its spacey 'kosmische musik' variant. And yet there are hints of the kinds of drama that sound well-suited for the film-soundtrack work the band would pursue beginning later in the 1970s.

Half of Atem ('breath' in English) is the title track, whose twenty minutes spans the first side. Before a minute has elapsed, percussionist Christopher Franke establishes a beat, and a rhythmic Mellotron motif begins, although it's soon overtaken by organ and synth parts that largely ignore the briefly-established tempo and key. Just three minutes into the piece, Franke has abandoned the beat, instead playing rolls and other patterns as the original motif occasionally threatens to surface amid the confusion. An explosion at 5:35 is followed by a collapse to near-silence which marks the end of what most people would recognize as music on Atem. The remaining fifteen minutes of Side One is formless, though pleasant; the piece approaches a crescendo in its final minutes, but never exactly gets there. In the meantime, the piece meanders into incidental-music territory: some passages sound vaguely like film music.

Side Two is somehow even more atmospheric, especially on 'Fauni-Gena' and 'Circulation of Events.' The album ends with the relatively experimental - - and relatively brief - - 'Wahn,' whose first part is a crazed echo of the early going of Side One. This similarity creates a nice transition from the end to the beginning of the album. 'Wahn' is aptly named, as it translates to 'delusion,' or 'mania,' or perhaps 'false hope.' It's disjointed, confusing, manic, particularly in comparison to the LP as a whole.

Interestingly, in the Tangerine Dream discography, Atem follows Zeit. Since the 'basic' German alphabet is comprised of the same 26 Latin letters used in English, A follows Z; the recursion in album alphabetization is reflected in this looping from the end of the second side to the beginning of the first.

I think there's more going on in the 40 minutes of Atem than in the 75 of Zeit, and yet in some way Atem is the less interesting album. Maybe that's because Zeit gives the listener more time to hear between the lines, so to speak.

At any rate, Atem is a good album, albeit not at the level of its predecessor.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review #122! 'Atem', the last of the Ohr label Tangerine Dream albums, was a kind of turning point for the band. Tangerine Dream used much more electronics on 'Zeit' and 'Atem' than they did on their first two albums, but still not as much as later works like 'Rubycon' and 'Stratosfear'. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2934563) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Monday, June 19, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Last album prior to the explosion of artistic achievement reached in Phaedra. It is better not to consider Phaedra as a comparison pattern; one should consider Atem as a clear evolution after the dark, intense; although almost impossible to get into Zeit. Now music is clear, some of the instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#415861) | Posted by Antonio Giacomin | Monday, March 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As said before, the more digestable version of 'Zeit,' Tangerine Dream were still in a more Krautrock stage for their fourth album (which was more apperant in the Pink years), and would change for their more commerical and much more enjoyable (at least to me) Virgin years. The sound is still ... (read more)

Report this review (#403471) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me Atem is a masterpice.Great cosmic music. Four beautiful tracks. "Wahn" is a misterious piece compost of voices and mellotron , included greats Franke's percussions inthe final part. Top 10 -electronic/cosmic music- ... (read more)

Report this review (#32447) | Posted by | Saturday, December 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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