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Tangerine Dream

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Tangerine Dream Stratosfear album cover
4.01 | 631 ratings | 47 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stratosfear (10:04)
2. Big Sleep in Search of Hades (4:45)
3. 3AM at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee (8:10)
4. Invisible Limits (11:40)

Total Time 34:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / Moog, Mellotron, grand piano, 12- & 6-string guitars, bass, mouth organ
- Christoph Franke / Moog, Birotron, organ, harpsichord, percussion
- Peter Baumann / Moog, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Projekt Electronic rhythm computer

Releases information

The last studio album of this line-up, recorded entirely in a small studio in Berlin 1976.

Artwork: Cooke-Key Associates

LP Virgin ‎- 28 146 XOT (1976, Germany)

CD Virgin ‎- CDV 2068 (1984, UK)
CD Virgin ‎- TAND 8 (1995, UK) Remastered by Simon Heyworth

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and to Quinino for the last updates
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TANGERINE DREAM Stratosfear ratings distribution

(631 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TANGERINE DREAM Stratosfear reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Following the path of increasing symphonic-progressiveness that marked the first six years of TD's Virgin career, 'Stratosfear' is the most symphonic-oriented album by TD with Peter Baumann still in the band. The emphasis on the organization of clear melodic lines and compelling keyboard orchestration is quite clear, while still sticking to the electronic ambience formula that TD learnt to make their own. The title track kicks off the album with grandeur and sheer elegance, introducing a couple of 12 string electric guitar arpeggios over a soft, dreamy keyboard layer once the main motif is introduced on Moogs and mellotron, the listener is hooked into the sequence of gentle variations on synth and lead guitar, somehow reminding them of WYWH-Pink Floyd and Moon Madness-Camel. The closing comeback of the opening theme in a more melancholy mood ends the cycle in order to give the listener room for meditation about the show of ethereal beauty they are presented to. 'The Big Sleep in Search of Hades' is also constructed under the main theme/interlude/reprise premise. The opening-closing section is a graceful Baroque-like sonata built upon the dialogue between real harpsichord and mellotron flute; what happens in between is a somber Gothic synth/mellotron string extravaganza, pretty much related to the overall spirit of 'Atem' and 'Phaedra', though not as harsh. Once again, pure beauty becomes the rule at writing and performing - this particular number feels stylistically connected to the stuff created by Schicke Führs & Fröehling and Pulsar. Things get more exotic and cosmic in '3 A.M. at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee', whose Arabic-like lines on mellotron brass, synth and electric piano, flowing synth layers, and occasional passages on harmonica manage to convey sonically the situation of having a nice meditative walk by a march before the first light of dawn. IMHO, the best track is 'Invisible Limits', which is actually structured in a similar way than the opening cut, without the reprising motif in the end. In exchange, after the symphonic tour-de-force conveyed by the clever interplay of keyboards and guitar, we are first offered a minimalistic succession of random and almost unnoticeable touches of synth and electric piano, then concluding with an astonishingly beautiful nocturne on grand piano, seasoned by a dreamy mellotron flute. The aggressive handling of the last piano chords serves to release the fire that had been contained for the previous 50 seconds - the appearance of the human heart that all this time had been behind the electronic paraphernalia. Such a brilliant ending is more than appropriate for such an evocative album.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Following the sudden change of direction started with Ricochet (and the premice with the much-later-released Green Desert) , TD is now in full swing travelling the Symphonic Highways but if the music is much more melodic , the real change here are the ruthm tracks be they percussions or electronics. This makes for a much more comfortable but less demanding listening. It is clear that TD is reaching its peak in popularity and its second artistic peak after the period from Zeit to Rubycon. For those who are afraid to start investigating TD , this might be the ideal place to do it but Ricochet and Force Majeure are my two fave for this period.
Review by Watcheroftheskies
4 stars This album is excellent, but unfortunatly has not aged well. There are alot of elements here including Jazz, Minimalism, and of course the well constructed electronica we expect from them at this point in their career. "3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" is quite dark and brooding and is the composition that I most remember from the album when I am not listening to is. All of the tracks, dispite their differences, play into each other well. This is a very good album by them and is worthy of 4 stars.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Stratosfear has the perfect blend of guitar and synth. This was my first introduction to TD and apart from being hooked by the cover (Viewable inverted too..the LP cover not you!) I could not get over the overall balance between electronic and progressive sounds. Listen to the epic ' Invisible Limits' closing side 2 and you will enjoy some of the most beautiful guitar work by Edgar Froese ever.The title tracks for me though is the highpoint of the album. It kicks off nice an easy but slowly but surely escalates to a frenzed hypnotic beauty mixed with swirling guitars and changing tempos. The wall of sound off ' Streatosfear' is mindboggling.' The Big Sleep in search of Hades' is another fine example of how TD managed to change direction during this period but with no sacrifice to quality. As the tiltle suggests it plods along in the underworld or in the deepest recess of your subconcious looking for Hades.Okefenokee is a swamp in Florida, USA, full of alligators and all sorts of nocturnal unpleasantries. BUt TD managed to portray the potential beauty of a ' 3AM...marsh..' visit to Okefenokee.The slow build on ' Okefenokee' and the eerie atmosphere of this song must be listened to to be understood. This album is perhaps deserving of a five star but maybe because it is so short ( 34 minutes) I moved it down a notch.
Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well -- here's an important album from my past, that I still enjoy today. German keyboard trio Tangerine Dream released STRATOSFEAR in 1976, and I was immediately compelled to buy it. I was attracted by the "far out" cover art, and was already a confirmed TD fan thanks to their fine prior releases PHAEDRA, RUBYCON, and RICOCHET. What I discovered upon first listen a few hours later (when in the appropriate "state of mind," no doubt!) certainly did not disappoint. STRATOSFEAR was the last studio album from the definitive 70s lineup of Franke, Froese and Baumann (Baumann was destined to depart following 1977's live ENCORE), and it's easily one of the best of a great set.

As with its excellent predecessors, STRATOSFEAR is genuine "music that melts." If you want bombastic, grandiose prog, with vocals, bass, crashing drums and soaring lead, don't come looking here! As with the bulk of the band's early output, this disc is composed of much more subtle stuff. You won't be blown away, but you may well gently drift away to the outer limits of "inner space," contemplating either the stately, slow-motion ballet of the planets as they drift past your mind's eye, or the siren call of the chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard.

After the lava lamp is warmed up and doing its thing, the sweet smell of incense permeates the room, and you push "play," the oddly (but appropriately) spelled title cut slowly builds into what is perhaps the most dynamic of TD's early pieces. The rhythmic, insistent keys impart an air of growing menace, and the inclusion of synthetic percussion keeps things moving and interesting, and sets the stage for Froese's lead, before the gentle, spacey close. Very "Lovecraftian" -- try it with a scary novel!

"The Big Sleep in Search of Hades," is a solid shorter number that explores some dark, "underworldly" terrain with the atmospheric use of mellotron, synth flute, and harpsichord.

Things remain eerie for "3 AM at the Border of the Marsh From Okefenokee." As its rather unwieldy title suggests, this eight-minute track takes us to the moonlit, mist-shrouded shores of the storied Florida swamp, replete with bubbling marsh gases, weird animal sounds, and a haunted harmonica somewhere in the murky distance. Er, snakes and gators sleep at night, don't they? Shiver!

The final cut, "Invisible Limits," is also the longest (nearly twelve minutes) and strongest. You'll want the headphones for this one, because after a slow -- at times soothing -- introduction, and some restrained lead guitar, the keyboards start to dance from ear to ear with some great stereo effects, before matters get decidedly spooky again. The hopeful light of dawn awaits, however, in a lovely closing section of piano and "flute" that delivers you once more into safe, familiar surroundings. Now, how about those cookies? Is it too late to order a pizza?

If there's a place in your prog collection for some meditative, other-worldly electronic music, and the old lava lamp and headphones are still in working order, you can't go wrong with this one. STRATOSFEAR is a crucial slice of classic Tangerine Dream, and a must for any true fan of the band's heyday.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is smoother than its previous one Ricochet. The smooth parts consist in mellotron, piano, harpsichord, organ, no more VCS3, moog, slow electronic bass. Those bits are quite catchy, floating and not dark. You have heavier parts where a beat like Ricochet can be heard, through moog patterns. There is even wah wah effect in couples of keyboards parts. There is still this synthesizer that sounds like a flute.

Rating: 3.5 satrs

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This German outfit has had a truly unique effect on me. I bought this album a while back, and have really quite enjoyed it. Yet even though I've had many opportunities to expand my Tangerine Dream collection I've always rejected them because so many other bands (progressive or otherwise) interest me more. Somehow Edgar Froese and gang have given me the idea that this one quality album is all I'll ever need of Tangerine Dream. (By the way, the other albums I've heard snatches of are Rubycon, Force Majeure and Le Parc).

The opening title track on this album is an absolutely awesome spacey song with a memorable melody that I seem to have heard on some science documentary or other (Come to think of it, it calls to mind the fantastic Doctor Who theme song). Using repeated undulating synth rhythms where most groups might employ drums, TD create a marvellous sound scape (the keyboard instruments alone include piano, harpsichord, organ, mellotron and Moog shared among Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann!) that allows one excellent melodic interlude after another to take over. There are at least four major themes that crop up during the course of this delectable 10 minute plus track that always leaves me imagining a chance meeting between Pink Floyd and Vangelis ... don't ask!.

The second track The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades is by far the shortest of the four pieces on here and it's a pretty morose (not to mention frequently inaudible) affair. If you can brush aside the mellotron swells and listen carefully a wonderful flute synth melody lurks deep within the recesses of this track. It always makes me feel like the only living creature on a distant desolate planet. Again ... don't ask!

The third piece 3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee sees our heroes throw in more sparse minimalist sounds for the opening couple of minutes before a violent mellotron chord rushes at you and ushers in another cool synth-led rhythm. After some threatening noises by the Moog (I think) the flute synth rears its head again, this time playing a rather Arabic (should that be pentatonic?) based melody.

If your thoughts aren't in space by the time the fourth and lengthiest track Invisible Limits kicks off, then you have got to start taking imagination classes as soon as possible. Yet despite the excellence of the playing and concept (not to mention the wake-up call of the tolling bell and the synth solo that takes off around the 3 minute mark!) I realise that I've already become bored of TD's style before I finish what I've been led to believe is quite a representative album. I can see why others have fallen in love with this band, but to me the attraction is present, yet limited. ... 66% on the MPV scale

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Stratosfear" is probably the closest thing to a masterpiece of TD according to my preferance. It is a flawless and melodic, atmospheric, very song or theme-oriented piece of music, without space-noise texture experimentation of their earlier works. It includes, apart from omni-present synths and rhythm machines, also an electric guitar, mellotron and mouth harp, which all contributed to a rich composition structure. This music is a perfect soundtrack for a horror or thriller movie, but it can also act as a solid stand-alone music listening. This was indeed very popular album too; I cannot recall how many TV documentaries, educational and science programs along with some TV and radio commercials were supported by these strong music themes, even in the late 1970s former Yugoslavian TV network. This is where Jean Michel Jarre picked to start his own electronic-new age-pop-glamour career, although his "Oxygene" from the same year 1976, bears many similar atmosphere like this TD artwork. I cannot but recommend this album to all novices to prog or electronic music in general.
Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is Tangerine Dream at their absolute best, doing everything right and avoiding the inevitable pitfalls generally associated with this kind of music, that is, descending into improvisatory, unfocused noodling. Well, you'll find none of that here, as everything is carefully constructed and works in perfect equilibrium. I very much enjoy the inclusion of acoustic instruments along with their familiar electronic sequencing. It really adds depth and texture to what might otherwise be a simple rehash of previous albums. In addition, the guitars, pianos, harmonica and other instruments give the music a personal warmth, neatly dodging the oft repeated complaint that electronic music is robotic and inhuman. I really can't pick one track as a standout. They all flow nicely into each other, yet there is enough difference between them to avoid monotony. "3 A.M." captures the dank, sticky humidity of a Florida swamp nicely, and "Invisible Limits" is an excellent capper to the album, successfully blending TD's trademark synth passages with lovely acoustic bits. It is my opinion that this type of music is psychedelic in the best kind of way. It opens the door your imagination to run wild, but it doesn't force you through it. In fact, I think it's even better than Phaedra and a great place for beginners to start.
Review by obiter
3 stars Another impressive ambient electronic offerring from Tangerine Dream. I was not a fan in the late 70s or 80s and have only come to enjoy this genre after revisitng it in the 90s. In the circumstances, I do not have any sentimental memories of discovering the music in my youth.

Side One Stratosfear unfortunately has more of the upbeat sections I particularly dislike. If this appeals to you then you may well consider this the best track.

Big Sleep is a short mellow sombre track (think backing music for the computer game Diablo and you won't be far wrong)

Side Two The constant tick/tock (heartbeat or water dripping or is it someone stepping quietly but steadily through the dark) throughout much of 3am. It makes the overall sound more accessible and proves particularaly effective when the overlays become slightly more siniser. It's a bit like the feel of Sibelius' Nightride to Sunrise.

Invisible Limits is my favourite track apart from a cheesey up beat section followed by the an even cheesier brief section of TD does Mike Oldfield. However, normal order is restored as gloriously eerie ambience returns. A synth piano and flute provide a quietly optimistic finale.

This a good album but if you can only squeeze a couple of TDs into your collection I would recommend rubycon and phaedra.

Review by b_olariu
2 stars Ethereal and complex rhythmical soundscapes, really????

I don't find anything complex and rhythmical here on this album who is considered among the best if not the best Tangerine Dream, only repetative key passages and here and there some guitar solos, who sounds like is played by a begginer. Sorry, but this ambient electronic album not fit my taste. So i will be very drastic on my note, 2 stars. Boring and repetative. That's all folks.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Stratosfear" begins extremely beautifully with soft guitars and synth chord progression, but almost immediately after this opening the sequencers creep in for dominating the whole album, and the mood of the music is changed dramatically. I can't escape memories of the bad music from 1990's Commodore Amiga here, and this music certainly isn't my cup of tea. The beautiful meditative theme returns in the end, but I would have preferred to have it been exploited more, or accompanied with some other kind of orientation to music creation. "Big Sleep in Search of Hades" is a pretty tune with flutes, bass and harpsichord-sounding keyboard melodies, being much better than the opener title track. Later there's a more oppressing theme presented, reminding slightly "The Heaven and Hell" album of Vangelis. "3am at The Border of The Marsh from Okefenokee" starts really primitively, sounding little like old "Ping Pong" computer game having some lush harmonica lines and dreamlike synth voices over it. After few minutes the space is filled with stronger and nicer soundscapes. "Invisible Limits" is a slow track building up moods quietly with nice flutes, flowing in quite symphonic style. Sadly the texture of the sound palette is the same as elsewhere on the record, somehow sounding sterile to my half-deaf ears, and not allowing anymore very pleasing aural trips. Even though there are few nice moments in the music, I personally lack the abilities to enjoy the aesthetics of this record, and felt that the future of the group ventured to directions not anymore within my own personal area of interests. Though disappointed by the music, have to adore the wonderful front cover picture though.
Review by russellk
2 stars This album marks a dramatic shift in TANGERINE DREAM's music. Perhaps it's not immediately obvious to the listener, but for the first time melody dominates soundscape and rhythm. The title track lays out the template for the next seven years' worth of music, with simple, structured and repetitive themes - symphonic prog, in other words - replacing free-form noodling. The inevitable result of this is a contraction of the breadth of the compositions: short themes don't need the same time to develop as an extended free-form composition.

For many people this is a change for the better, but not for me. It led directly to TD's work on soundtracks, but to me was a step back from the multi-layered complexity of their previous three albums. This album simply doesn't have the depth to sustain interest for repeated listenings.

The title track is energetic, but sacrifices both drama and beauty to achieve its restlessness. The other three tracks are rather nondescript, with in particular the 12 & 6 string guitar serving to 'normalise' the unique TD sound. I'm also annoyed by the obvious attempt to ingratiate themselves with the American market, the too-obvious beginning to '3 AM ...' and it's mouth organ trying to evoke southern swamps. They would have been better served harking back to their avant-garde past than indulging in this sort of shallow compromise.

In sum, this, the last studio album from the classic lineup of FROESE, FRANKE and BAUMANN, is a retrograde step. Fortunately FROESE and FRANKE realised this and, with their next two studio albums proper, went back to the drawing board and once again took risks with both personnel and style. The results were startling to say the least.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was totally disappointed with Phaedra the so-called masterpiece of Tangerine Dream, so got this with trepidation. I was actually delighted with this album. It is streets ahead of Phaedra for sheer enjoyable quality.

Tangerine Dream's techno ambience and their influence on experimental music is definitive and of course they were one of their first to produce music like this. Tangerine Dream are certainly progenitors of electronic music and glacial landscape music like no other band. Whereas I hated most of Phaedra, which is mind numbing and draining on the ears, Stratosfear is an encapsulating delight. The title track has a very nice rhythm and jaunty metrical patterns throughout that are compelling to the ear. All the tracks have a strange ambience and blend into one journey.

3 AM at the Border of the Marsh From Okefenokee, try remembering that title, is an intriguing piece that moves in a variety of directions and never really settles on one time signature. It features bizarre animal soundwaves that transport us to a deserted neverwhere, perhaps in the middle of some ancient forest or alien desert.

Invisible Limits is very long but has awesome effects and wonderful guitar licks and keyboard motifs. it is quite ethereal and not one to play at midnight. The music is still difficult to absorb at times, but this is a nice change in TD's style and is a lot more accessible then other albums that were very much in the experimental phase.

A relaxing journey onto some cosmic glacial planet.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars As many have mentioned, this may well be TANGERINE DREAM's most melodic album. Nothing really too dark or experimental about this one, making it an excellent place to start for someone wanting to check out their sound. This is also the final album with the classic lineup, and they have done away with the side long track that they were always known for. Interesting that all three guys play mellotron on this one.

"Stratosfear" opens quietly with gentle guitar and synths before that electronic beat comes in. Synths help out, and the sound gets louder after 2 minutes. This is so melodic. Check out the guitar as it comes ripping in at 7 1/2 minutes. A change before 9 minutes as gentle guitar and electronics end it in a melancholic way. "The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades" opens with mellotron flutes and harpsichord. Then a minute in we get synths and mellotron building and collapsing for a while. This section is as dark as this album gets. The intro melody returns to end it. Nice.

"3 AM At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" has this somewhat experimental intro with background harmonica.Then 2 minutes in we get this heavenly wall of mellotron. The mellotron 3 1/2 minutes in is gorgeous as electronic sounds pulse, and spacey sounds follow. Some harmonica late as well. I'm a big fan of the soundscapes they create in this one. "Invisible Limits" opens with a faint beat as spacey waves come in. Such a beautiful soundscape after 2 minutes. Drums and a change 3 minutes in. Guitar a minute later as those pulsating sounds arrive. We get an eerie section before 7 minutes.The song becomes very calm.The piano after 9 minutes is surprising, and it continues to the end of the song.

This is different from the others I have heard, but it's still TANGERINE DREAM and I like the intrigue they have created.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars This is the third album from Tangerine Dream's Virgin days, which most people would easily say were their best years. This is actually a somewhat lighter album, especially compared to the previous two Tangerine Dream albums, Phaedra and Rubycon. It's also one of

1. Stratosfear - Opens very melodically and uplifting before some synths enter that make me think of human voices in a strange way. Right away it's very noticeable that this album is going to be way different from their previous two, very dark releases. This song is very, very uplifting and gives me an "on top of the world" feeling, which is something that is very, very different from most Tangerine Dream. The section with the manic drumming and various electronic sounds is absolutely astounding. A great song with lots of great movements in it. 10+/10

2. The Big Sleep in Search of Hades - This song opens with dark keyboards and flute and is a bit darker than the previous song. However, after the mood of the previous song, this one almost feels like a downer to me, although it certainly is a good song. Might be my least favorite track on here though, while still fairly enjoyable. 7/10

3. 3A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee - Starts with an almost Western feel to it punctuated with repeated notes from some keyboards. It makes me picture something of a cross between science fiction and space cowboys. Like the previous song, this is a bit darker than the title track. Unlike the previous track however, I feel this one builds in a much better way. It gets pretty creepy in the second half of the song, and I enjoy the creepiness here because it has a much better fit to it than before. The song ends with some mouth organ courtesy of Froese that takes us back to the theme presented at the beginning of the song of a "Cowboy of the Old West" feel. 9/10

4. Invisible Limits - This song opens very minimalisticly on first appearance, but it builds fairly quickly and becomes very multi-layered. Around 3 minutes we get a weird buzzing noise with a drum build before a neat chime-like sound. And like the title track this song is much more upbeat for Tangerine Dream's standards. The section around 5 minutes has a very awesome, funky feeling to it with emphasis on the "funk" part. This is followed by some nice noodling/soloing. A great song, but I honestly think the title track is still the best song on the whole album. 9/10

A very good Tangerine Dream album, but I wouldn't say it's one of their best, especially in comparison to the two albums before it. If you're interested in Tangerine Dream or already like them, give Phaedra, Rubycon, and Force Majeure a try before you pick up this one. Still a very worthwhile album to have and essential if you're a Tangerine Dream fan. 4/5 stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This was the last TD album I experienced as a contemporary in 1976. And I have to say that this is again quite a good work by the trio.

Lots of great mellotron sounds, splendid ambient and trippy music as TD has almost always offered (even if the early days were harder to get into). The combination of some guitar generates definite Floydean savours and are more than welcome in their ocean of keyboards extravaganza. This is to summarize the title track.

What is to be noticed here is that there aren't any epic like we were used to since ''Alpha Centauri''. But this will even be more obvious with their next record. The short ''Big sleep in Search of Hades'' is one of their most melodic track ever: vaguely reminiscent of ''Tubular Bells'' and the early ''Genesis'': it is all enchantment and beauty.

After an average ''Three AM?'', there comes one of my all time TD fave: the brilliant, the moving, the superb ''Invisible Limit''. This intro is so brilliant, so mysterious, so pleasant, so symphonic, so, so, so?Floydean at times.

TD has condensed a lot of their previous work in these barely twelve great minutes. This is the ultimate highlight of this album: a stratospheric number indeed which makes you forget the previous track.

It is truly a jewel of a track that any prog fan should take the time to listen to. A magical moment (but I have already used this expression several times to describe TD music). I just LOVE this piece of music. The closing part has such an ASOS feel; and you know how I love this Floyd masterpiece (at least it is MHHO). A great moment. A wonderful moment.

If only ''Three AM'' would have been skipped and ''Invisible Limits'' expanded, I would have rated this album with five stars; but as such four stars seem legitimate.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Where I grew up, "Stratosfear" was the only TANGERINE DREAM album to receive significant radio airplay, reflecting their move towards more melodic and accessible electronica and the oncoming onslaught of more aggressive mainstream music. The title cut was a staple, and remains a blueprint for so much of what was to follow both by this group and other artists.

Curiously, the aspect of the TD sound that remains freshest is the largely synthesized percussion, which simulates world rhythms and grounds what would otherwise be a robotic affair. Of course, acoustic and electric guitars are placed here and there for added granola appeal, and sometimes the electronic instrumentation does a fair impersonation of same. Therein lies the other strength of this disk - in bridging the real and artificial (the fake flutes are another example), it allows us to feel safe with both and to recognize that, in the end, all that matters is our enjoyment aplenty. It might take the form of the mid east meets mid west of "3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" or the PROCOL HARUM-like "piano" that closes out "Invisible Limits". Not to mention oodles of the mellotronic.

Nothing to fear in this dreamy brew from the masters of the genre.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The title of the Tangerine Dream studio album released prior to "Stratosfear" might have been a little premature: it was here that the electronic trio finally crossed a musical Rubicon, abandoning forever the counterculture sound of their Krautrock roots.

The popular 1976 album marked the true beginning of a brighter, bouncier, more accessible Tangerine Dream, and the difference is immediately clear from the opening notes: actual melodies (instead of long, cosmic improvisations); guitars played to sound like genuine rock 'n' roll guitars; a touch of acoustic drumming in the title track; an evocative harmonica intro elsewhere. There's even an unexpected moment of synthesized 'Superfly' funk, near the beginning of "Invisible Limits".

Even more telling is the band's obvious update of their long-standing debt to PINK FLOYD. Back in Berlin the first Tangerine Dream had openly aped "A Saucerful of Secrets"; six years later the drifting guitar arpeggio introducing the title track of "Stratosfear" would distinctly recall the album "Wish You Were Here", released by the Floyd just one year earlier to unprecedented hype and attention.

But this was first and foremost (and remains today) a Tangerine Dream album, maybe the quintessential recording from their classic mid-'70s line-up of Edgar Froese, Chris Franke, and Peter Baumann. The latter half of the album in particular (Side Two, on the original vinyl) is textbook T. Dream, beginning with the gorgeous atmospherics of "3 a.m. at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee" (and how's that for an evocative title?).

It's odd how the album today sounds more dated than their previous efforts: the indispensable "Ricochet" and "Rubycon". But "Stratosfear" introduced the band to many stateside listeners, including this reviewer, and for those of us with long memories it holds enormous value beyond its obvious musical merits, as a treasured artifact of analogue Synth Rock nostalgia.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Owning 38 releases from this celebrated German band, it's kind of hard to state under oath that I am just a passing fan. The massive comments within most music sites acknowledge the contribution they made to electronica in general and progressive music in particular. Their career has been bisected, dissected and autopsied by numerous literary surgeons and there is little doubt that their "peak" creative period remains the 1973-1983, beginning with "Atem" and ending with "Hyperborea". This release is probably the best place to start for any newcomer and then proceed to Phaedra and Rubycon (two of the best TD albums, that always seemed twins to me and I have listened to them in sequence- like a good synth fanboy!). It remains the most accessible of all TD releases, having even earned airplay on some rock stations in the days of illuminated radio. Personally, I find many of the top TD albums of this exalted period ideal driving music, so please accept my quirky vehicular analogies. Needless to say, the production is audio Audi perfection, the chromed sequencers humming like a sleek BMW on the autobahn, the Edgar Froese guitar blasts worthy of a swerving Porsche turbo and colossal melodies sweeping through the Berlin skies. It's really the ripping electric guitar solos that give all the silken electronics and the pulsating Peter Baumann rhythmic computer beds any sense of rock and space/psychedelia, thus shrouding the entire experience in a warm fuzzy comfort zone. There are tons of mood changes and tempo surges, creating highly cinematographic audio-visions, which also explain the huge soundtrack discography from these savvy Berliners. On the shimmering "3am At the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee", the atmosphere is serenely arid, almost minimalist with occasional mellotron flute illustrations tossed in for major effect. The riveting closer "Invisible Limits" is another fine stretch of dreamy artificial symphonics , with a gentle synth-string build ?up that has a neo-classical feel (save for the genial wah-wah guitar riffing in the background). When the lusty basalt sequencers boot in, the entire piece just finds itself propelled onward with Froese's seductive guitar shepherding the way. The breathless final slow burn minutes are insidiously relaxing and highly evocative , almost sexual in nature as the grand piano enters the arena, supremely elegant. Excellent music and a necessary addition to any musical collection. Wirklich ausgezeichnet . 4,5 undetectable frontiers
Review by Dobermensch
4 stars I guess 'Ricochet' was an indicator of things to come. From here onwards guitars are prevalent on all Tangerine Dream albums. The good news is that here, they're all highly treated and tampered with.

'Stratosfear' was clearly their most accessible album up until this point. Some great echoey 12 string guitar opens the first track which gives way to some almost pop-like electronics. A brilliant outro sees the return of those lush 12 stringed guitars and waves of laid back keyboards.

'The Big Sleep in Search of Hades' is about as acoustic as Tangerine Dream ever got in the 70's, but it still retains that creepiness that I always associate them with from this era.

Side two swings from the 'nice 'n relaxed' to all out electronics, but somehow without the intensity of 'Phaedra' or 'Rubycon'. Maybe it's the fact that the arpeggiators are rarely at the forefront on this album.

This is the last of their high quality albums - maybe with the exception of 'Force Majeure' . From here onwards it's a gradual and painful slide into middle of the road mediocrity.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The release of Stratosfear marked a slow but steady transition in Tangerine Dream's career towards new frontiers. Just like many other bands before and after Tangerine Dream, the unexpected rise in popularity gave the band an opportunity to tap into many new directions and sounds that gradually became available to them with every new technological improvement. This time around the technology didn't seem to give enough new interesting ideas for this collective and so the band looked, once again, back in time for inspiration. Which resulted in sounds of the more traditional instruments like the 12 & 6 string guitars, Grand piano, bass guitar, Mouth Organ, Mellotron, and even a harpsichord made their scattered appearances all over Stratosfear.

Unlike the previous albums that featured at least one lengthy 15+ minute composition, Tangerine Dream seemed to be strategically moving away from this format, on this release, which might seem natural from a perspective of trying something different. Generally this is probably one that quality I consider that the band had actually pulled off superbly on Stratosfear since every one of these four composition could have easily been expanded to extreme proportions. Instead, Tangerine Dream wisely restrained from doing so and cherished the wonderful moments that each of the tracks offer. But ultimately this album still doesn't get beyond the stage where I can piece the moments together into a complete picture which results in me never being quite satisfied with this final product.

Things get off on a great start with the album-titled composition giving us, the listeners, a clear melody to hang on to but also adding on many underlying patterns which make the composition much more versatile than the first impression might suggest. Still, it seems to me that the band got a bit carried away with the track arrangements towards the middle section and things suddenly don't feel as impressive as they first seemed to once the melodies become too dominant and static for my tastes. Luckily the music doesn't get tiresome over the first 11 minutes and I can swiftly transition into the album's biggest highlight.

The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades plays a bit like a compact epic that begins and ends on a very distinct melody while the short middle section of the piece is much more atmospheric. This is another clear moment where Tangerine Dream could have exploited this opportunity to th fullest but instead crafted a composition that showed us that electronic music can be just as effective without completely relying on the extended track format. This concept unfortunately doesn't feel as clear on 3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee since this track sounds to me like a brief return to the early ambient territory that the band uncovered with their albums that culminated with Phaedra. It would have been much more impressive to hear a short track of about 4-5 minutes in length achieving a likewise result instead of this unnecessarily long experiment.

The final track titled Invisible Limits is another strong performance most notable for Edgar Froese's addition of distinct electric guitar sounds. Unfortunately the excessive use of sequencer sounds feels a bit overdone to my ears especially compared to the contrast of the low-key acoustic arrangement that we are met with right towards the end of this composition. This clear lack of smooth transitions definitely takes a toll on my appreciation of the final product.

In the end, Stratosfear is a step in a new direction for the classic Tangerine Dream lineup showing that the band was clearly trying to uncover some new ground without loosing their past glory. This is unfortunately what makes this album not as interesting as the recordings that were leading up to this moment. Add a few sloppy inconsistencies and we get a good, but non-essential release for fans of progressive music.

***** star songs: The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades (4:29)

**** star songs: Stratosfear (10:37) Invisible Limits (11:25)

*** star songs: 3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee (8:49)

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Stratosfear is my most recent Tangerine Dream album. It's also apparently the last of the "classic" lineup of the band, and I must say also my least favorite of them. That's not to say it's a bad album, mind you - still a lot to like here, but they started to go in directions I don't really appreciate as much as their first six. I think the reason I don't like this one nearly as much as the first six is the electronic, programmed drums. There are very few occasions where I really enjoy programmed drums, and this isn't one of them. The few signs of real drums are appreciated, that's for sure. Anyways, drumming aside, this album is still mostly pretty fun. The first two tracks are much less to my liking than the second half of the album. While the first half seems to be more looking forward to the new sound the band was moving to, the second half brings back memories of their older albums I love so much. Plus, the programmed drums are less intrusive.

The material on the first side is worthy of two and a half stars for me, while the material on the second side is worthy of four. Seems like three stars is the obvious choice here, since I'd listen to any of the first six studio efforts over this one if given the choice.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Now that the pink period is gone and the three previous releases have started a change in the musical landscapes of Tangerine Dream, here appears their actually more catchy album. There are melodies and structures that don't have anything to do with the "organized chaos" of the old times. Phaedra introduced the electronic rhythm, then Ricochet and Rubycon added some melodic lines.

Stratosfear makes a synthesys of all of them and the result is a great electronic performance. Some sounds are dated, like old console's midi files, but this was the top of the actual technology and TD are always been experimenters and researchers in this sense.

The title track flows continuously for 10 minutes, then there's a sudden stop and a guitar harping totally disconnected from what was before. It's very nice but I don't understand why they aren't separate tracks.

"The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades" is very melodic. They don't seem the same band who was travelling the deep space in Zeit. They seem to realize it in the middle of the song so a short spacey section is added. However the fact that the music is changed doesn't mean that it's bad. A band in advance on its time can enter the 80s in 1976.

"3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" starts smoothly with a bell and a harmonica sound. If it wasn't for the spacey sounds coming from the background I could think it's Vangelis. It's only when an "orchestral" chord grows with dissonances that their space style is easily recognisable. Since now on it's slow and athmospheric with some middle eastern or medieval flavours. Excellent for a movie soundtrack. The last minute with the harmonica back over spacey sounds closes the circle.

"Invisible Limits" seems a follow up to the previous track, but the bell is now a bass and the harmonica is a flute. This is very hypnotic. A bit too melodic respect to the things we were used to listen from TD, but if you forget TD this is an excellent track. Also guitar and percussions are back as instruments after some albums made of keyboards only. The guitar performance of Edgar Froese is reminding of the Krautrock origins. What follows is an uptime piece of electronic music on which the guitar reappears here and there. The passage into the spacey section is smooth. This part is the one that I prefer, but I am a fan of Zeit. The track is closed buy a piano/flute piece quite similar, to be honest, to the last part of Saucerful of Secrets.

A great album, even if the fans, as myself, of the early TD were actually a bit disappointed. Relistening to it now it's not so disappointing and this represents the beginning of a new period and the end of this lineup. Always in advance with the times.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Oh, what a great departure from their previous two works Phaedra and Rubycon! Instead of the dark, abstract and structureless sound landscapes, Stratosfear is highly melodic, pleasant and has fine harmonies and rhythms. Tremendous jump forward, as far as I´m concerned. I was never a fan of pure eletronic music (or any kind of music, for the matter) without a defined melody line or some hint of coherent structure. And you have all this here. Their first real symphonic efford combined with their great expertise in eletronic sounds and effects.

Of course is not prog per se. It is still basicly an eletronic album, with some more conventional instruments on the forefront sometimes (guitar, piano) and the use of the programmed rhythms is quite primitive, of course, but highly effective and not intrusive in any manner. But the songwriting is the real difference between this CD and the previous ones: simply superb, with gorgeous, inspired tunes and terrific performances. A real pity that this would be their last with the classic line up of Froese, Franke and Baumann.

Production is excellent for the period. All four tracks are good, but highlights are the title track and the epic Invisible Limits. this last one in particular seems to be a great sum of all that Tangerine Dream has done so far mixed with the new direction. A real gem. My only gripe with this CD is the fact thatm at 34.39 minutes, it´s a bit too short, even for the 70´s standards. You´ll find yourself longing for more.

If you´re interested to know this legendary band and, like me, prefer the more melodic side of eletronic music, this is an excellent place to start. Rating: four strong stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Stratosfear is one of the most accessible albums of the early Tangerine Dream era. The music found on this album really isn't unlike anything that a symphonic progressive rock band would write, except this is of course dominated by electronic sounds. Melodies take a prominent role on this album, helping along its accessibility.

The strong progressive rock song structure on this album really makes this album stick out from Tangerine Dream's previous albums, which were usually dominated by slowly progressing electronic soundscapes with a tendency to be ambient at times. The tracks themselves are also more quickly paced and do feature more traditional rock instruments, and even though the tracks on this album seem short compared to previous albums, they have a surprising amount of different passages that range from beautiful to powerfully aggressive. Honestly, I feel like these short tracks pack more of a variety in passages than both movements from Rubycon and definitely have more energy.

If Tangerine Dream hasn't been "rock" enough for you in the past, then this is the album to listen to.

Review by Matti
5 stars Certainly among my three favourite TD albums! (Two others being Force Majeure '79 and Cyclone '78). Stratosfear is the last one with the Froese-Franke-Baumann line-up. The sound is simultaneously warm and somehow estranged and mystical, lots of acoustic guitar for a TD album, a wide range of Moog, Mellotron, organ and other keyboards. An interesting feature is the harmonica on '3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee'. You can imagine being there. Most of the album is also rather melodic, delicate and calm, but with a strong, at times even nightmarish atmosphere (indeed, what a great title!).

It continues where Phaedra had left, featuring four tracks between 4:45 and 11:40 in length. I do appreciate also their classic albums with only side-long parts of the title piece (Ricochet, Rubycon, Tangram, ...), but often either one of the parts doesn't quite fulfill the expectations. All of the tracks of Stratosfear are exciting, never getting too repetitive. There are sections completely different from what preceeds them, such as the piano at the end of the title track. So this is a truly progressive album in every sense. Music to paint strange landscapes in your mind. I only wish it was longer. 4,5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars During my tenure at a record/CD store in the eighties and nineties, this Tangerine Dream album always sold more than any other. Was it better than the other realeases? Not to me, but that's a matter of taste. I always though it was the play on words in the title, using the word "fear", giving the album a sense of danger.

But was it dangerous? Not really. I didn't even find it as eerie, or mesmerizing as other TD albums of the time. But still, it's a good album. Stratosfear, the title track, is the most like the rhythmic pulsing TD I know from other album of theirs from the seventies. The remaining tracks tend to be more nebulous and experimental. That's not a bad thing, but some of the sounds they make just seem to come in from out of the blue, and don't fit the rest of the piece. But I still like it.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Recorded shortly after Edgar Froese produced his solo album Macula Transfer, Stratosfear sees Tangerine Dream take that album's intriguing mix of synthesised cool and warm kraut-psych guitar and applied it to a full band setting, with percussion and flute joining the mix and showing more prominence than they had on a Tangerine Dream album for some time - particularly on closing track Invisible Limits. The preceding, more synth-dominated tracks have a cold, stark, spooky quality to them in keeping with what's expected from this eerie era of Tangerine Dream. As the last album from this particular lineup, it's an interesting swan song that doesn't quite hit the heights of Rubycon or Phaedra in terms of its ethereal, mystical explorations, but does provide a foundation for the more structured electronic symphonies to come.
Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Not quite the fitting title.

Tangerine Dream is an artist I've been smitten with in recent times; somehow their semi-abstract electronic spacey compositions have been very appealing to my tastes, and STRATOSFEAR is actually no exception. Unlike the unified connectedness of RUBYCON, this album sees TD take a more individual track orientation as nothing extends beyond twelve minutes here. There are very scant traces of New Age beginning to infect the sound of the group, but not enough to detract from the experimental nature of what they're doing.

STRATOSFEAR might be the album I might send newcomers of the band towards simply because it is more melodic than previous efforts (at least the ones I've heard) and less experimental. Less risk, possible high reward. The title track is an instant electronic classic as it is non-stop electronic symphonic bliss for eight minutes with various tie-in melodies and a suspenseful climax with the only slight downside of sitting through a few minutes of delayed calm at the end. The same bliss can be found within the middle third of ''Invisible Limits''; other than a false crescendo, most of the rest of the track is just padding.

The padding on the longer tracks doesn't truly interfere with the main themes, but the stuff at the end of both ''epics'' isn't worth enduring at the tail-end of something extraordinary which is unlike RUBYCON where that last haunting voice kept my grip until the disc stopped. The ''Hades'' track isn't all too terrible, but results in little more than fluff. The ''Okeefenokee'' track is almost a padding nightmare that, other than a couple of harmonica instances, is largely forgettable.

STRATOSFEAR might be a more accessible album from Tangerine Dream and might ease some of the more symphonic progsters into their world of spacey synth thematics. That being said, compared to the artistic triumphs that were PHAEDRA and RUBYCON, STRATOSFEAR is a step down from those particular pedestals. It is more instantaneous than other TD albums I've heard, but it's slightly clumsy as a whole.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Stratosfear is one of my favorite progressive electronic albums, and would rival Phaedra were it not for an occasional lack of compositional direction. The tones are wonderful and the more extensive inclusion of guitars adds an occasional glimpse into another dimension of the genre.

'Stratosfear' Twelve-string guitar and Mellotron merge dreamily with more traditional 1970s progressive electronic music, with a repetitive rhythm and a synthesizer lead singing sweetly like a violin. The electric guitar lead is run through a Leslie. As the electronic drive dies, the murky guitar returns, presenting a melancholic denouement.

'Big Sleep In Search of Hades' Light symphonic music underpinned by steady bass and a flute tone leads into a dark theme that gets the Mellotron treatment, as though Gentle Giant joined King Crimson during In the Wake of Poseidon or Lizard. The final minute is a rendition of the introduction with harpsichord.

'3am at the Border of The Marsh from Okefenokee' Like the musical timer for a quiz show, the opening rhythm consists of a single bass note followed by a chime. Otherworldly noises quaver and whine over this. Synthesizer and Mellotron emerge softly over a more complex version of the original backdrop.

'Invisible Limits' Subdued electronic music pulsate under melodic lead guitar. Midway through, the sound becomes dark and mysterious- the sound of a ghostly sorcerer casting a spell that transforms the piece into a morose piano and Mellotron flute passage.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Stratosfear' - Tangerine Dream (8/10)

With "Rubycon", it is this reviewer's opinion that Tangerine Dream finally tapped into the true potential of their sound. Vast, mysterious, and even downright creepy at times, "Rubycon" is the essential 'desert island' album for Tangerine Dream. Relating this to the album in question, "Stratosfear" had a tough act to follow. Perhaps under the impression that the same sort of "Rubycon" magic could not be reproduced, Tangerine Dream instead branch out into a number of different styles, fusing them into the band's enveloping 'space' style. Compared to "Rubycon" and even "Phaedra", Tangerine Dreams' seventh album does not seem to have received the same reverence as legacy as others in the band's classic canon. It's up for argument that the diversity here results in a feeling of scatteredness, but the genius that is Tangerine Dream fire all their cannons with "Stratosfear".

The name feels like a bit of a misnomer. Although the ethereal concept of the 'stratosphere' could apply to this and any of Tangerine Dream's spacey albums, there is little to fear about the music. If anything, "Stratosfear" takes a more upbeat approach to its atmosphere than "Rubycon" or even those albums that came before. Throughout the latter half of the seventies, Tangerine Dream sought to fuse their space music with a more rock-based flavour, and the roots of that doctrine can be found here. On top of the miasmatic moog arpeggios now considered a trademark of the band's work, there is use of 'real' rock instruments, namely the lead guitar and piano. These elements aside, "Stratosfear" offers a similar listening experience to the fully synthesized TD. Above all else, the focus here is on ambiance and atmosphere, and the band excels in this respect. Electronic instruments are stretched and twisted into some fairly cerebral textures. Of course, by this point in the band's career, they have already become masters of this meticulous ambiance. Though soothing and mellow as anything you will find in the realm of progressive rock, this gives the listener a choice to focus in on the music and listen intently for these complex timbres. That's not a liberty always bestowed in this ambient brand of music; it really helps to set Tangerine Dream apart from their peers.

The album's greatest strength is also its glaring weakness in this case, and it could be either depending on the listening experience you're looking for. Diversity, diversity, diversity. By this, I do not necessarily mean that "Stratosfear" is a melange of completely different styles. Instead, they are a little more liberal with their styles than before, and each composition brings a different feeling of atmosphere to the table. The opening title track brings a familiar, arpeggiated synth sound, the likes of which could have fit snugly in "Phaedra". Things take a shift with "Big Sleep In Search Of Hades", which goes for a melancholic sound I could imagine hearing on an early Genesis album. My favourite track here however is the third, "3 AM At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee". Undeniably the most ambient and loose track on the album, it steers clear of the electronic hooks and goes for a very bleak soundscape, the likes of which I would likely hear in some sort of post- apocalyptic desert. With the occasional flourish of harmonica, it tells a wordless story, and it's all the better for it.

"Invisible Limits" is a fine way to end the album, riding in on the rock elements to a degree Tangerine Dream had not used since the early days. Even still, it is a mostly electronic composition, but the electric guitar leads and pianos give a depth to the sound that comes as a surprise after hearing "Rubycon". "Stratosfear" is a fairly underrated album, and as excellent as it is, I'm still not quite sure if Tangerine Dream's seventh record would have been better or worse if it had gone for the more homogeneous approach. The more rock- based approach would not work quite as well as time went on, but "Stratosfear" hits a nice middle ground between new innovations, and their classic trademark.

Review by Modrigue
5 stars A path to an imaginary land

One of the best TANGERINE DREAM covers for one of their best albums. Last studio release with Peter Baumann, "Stratosfear" marks a rupture with their previous opus. The band now incorporates more melodic structures and have shortened their compositions. Has the band turned commercial? Not really. The inspiration and quality are still present. There is also a bigger use of acoustic instruments.

The title track is an invitation to a dream land. A catchy oriental-like melody, fast pulsating sequences, both acoustic and electric guitars, energic rythms... Irresistible. A TD classic and a concert favorite! "The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades" is a mysterious short track featuring smooth flute playing. Although only 4 minutes long, it manages at displaying various ambiances while keeping its unity, as if you were lost in the same dream inside various rooms.

You continue your trip by wandering into foggy swamps with "3 AM at the Border of the Marsh From Okefenokee". This track is even more unusual as it opens with an harmonica! There are not many electronic tunes with this instrument. The rest of the composition alternates dark, funest, intriguing and atmospheric moments. "Invisible Limits" has a surprising funky electronic opening. It then evolves to a fast melodic synth sequence to finish with a light aerial piano theme. The dream is now over.

With "Stratosfear", the german pioneers succeed at proposing accessible melodic electronic music while keeping their own approach. Although featuring various ambiances, everything flows naturally in this album. You will be transported into another world. Classic album, and one of the last masterpiece of TANGERINE DREAM.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars In 1989 I was 16 years old, I first heard of Tangerine Dream. I heard some of their music played on public radio, and I was wondering what the fuss was all about. They were likely playing something off Optical Race. My knowledge of them were spotty, but then I learned they had albums out in the 1970s, but the only one I was aware of shortly after was Stratosfear. I didn't realize until 1994 that their debut appeared in 1970 (Electronic Meditation, which is not particularly electronic or meditative, but guitar and organ-driven Krautrock). So I had a bit of an aversion to Tangerine Dream, but in 1994 I took a chance, figuring it's the 1970s albums I should be looking for, and bought Stratosfear, and ever so glad I did. Since buying all their other 1970s albums, it was clear that on Stratosfear the band was attempting a more melodic approach. The title track clearly demonstrates that, sequencer still play a big role, but in a more catchy way than before. I noticed quite a bit of the ARP Pro-Soloist being used here, even though one isn't even credited at all. "Big Sleep in the Search of Hades" is definitely less "commercial". Nice use of harpsichord and Mellotron flutes, but some really creepy tron choirs are also used as well as the Pro-Soloist. This piece really blows me away! "3 AM at the Border of the Marsh from Okefenokee" starts off rather calm, then you get blasted with tron choir, before slow paced sequencers creep in with tron flute. "Invisible Limits" starts off calm, the sequencers kick in at a high pace, before going into a more tripped out passage, and a calm piano passage towards the end. I was so happy to get Stratosfear, it totally changed my attitude on the band, hardly the "New Age" fluff I dismissed them as (to be fair, I felt they slipped into mediocrity by the mid 1980s, Underwater Sunlight is the most recent TD album own). While many describe Stratosfear as an attempt at something more "commercial", I really don't feel it that way. In fact there is plenty of stuff that would scare off mainstream listeners. Mainstream listeners who prefer Underwater Sunlight, Optical Race, Lily on the Beach, and such release would likely be scared of Stratosfear (never mind Zeit which would likely make them coil in terror). To me this is nothing short of a classic, and was the first TD album I bought, and without a doubt an album I can easily recommend.
Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 438

Formed in 1967 by Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream is considered the greatest link between the prog rock music and the electronic music in the last century. Tangerine Dream had a history marked by several different phases. The first phase, between 1969 and 1973, reflects a strong influence of early Pink Floyd's psychedelic work. It comprises the first four studio albums of the band, "Electronic Meditation" from 1970, "Alpha Centauri" from 1971, "Zeit" from 1972 and "Atem" from 1973. These were the years that became known as "The Pink Years". The second phase of the band, between 1974 and 1983, is remembered by fans as the main sound transition period for the project, with keyboards, synthesizers and sequencers being used in their own way. This phase comprises their next eleven studio albums, "Phaedra" from 1974, "Rubycon" from 1975, "Stratosfear" from 1976, "Sorcerer (OST)" from 1977, "Cyclone" from 1978, "Force Majeure" from 1979, "Tangram" from 1980, "Exit" and "Thief (OST)" both works from 1981, "White Eagle" from 1982 and "Hyperborea" from 1983. This phase also includes their first three live albums, "Ricochet" from 1975, "Encore" from 1977 and "Logos... Live At The Dominion ? London" from 1983. This was the phase that became known as "The Virgin Years".

The futuristic sound of Tangerine Dream has influenced several generations and is still remembered today for the absolute singularity that it carried in its productions. This is even more evident when we are talking about the 70's, especially about of their albums that belong to "The Virgin Years". That was also their golden era that is also the phase with their best line up, which comprises Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann. This is particularly evident with their albums "Phaedra", "Rubycon" and "Ricochet" which are considered the three main masterpieces of Tangerine Dream. Even in that period they released "Cyclone" that is the only album of their discography with vocals.

So, now let's talk about "Stratosfear", which is the subject of this review. "Stratosfear", the last Tangerine Dream's album by the great trio Baumann, Franke and Froese, shows the group's desire to advance past their stellar recent material and stake out a new musical direction. "Stratosfear" took the style that had been developed on the three previous albums into slicker, more melodic and slightly less abstract territory. It was the first album since their debut to not feature a side-long track. However, "Stratosfear" still is an album consisting of only four songs, where two of them were over ten minutes, cannot be accused of being a commercial sell-out, not even by 70's standards. The organic instruments take more of a textural role, embellishing the effects instead of working their own melodic conventions. "Stratosfear" is also the beginning of a more evocative approach for Tangerine Dream. "Stratosfear" marked the beginning of the band's evolution from their early 70's synthesizer experiments towards a more recognizable and melodic sound. It contains even a stronger blend of Tangerine Dream's acoustic and electronic influences than before.

The title track opens with some relaxed and pleasant chords on guitar, which creates an atmosphere that fits the track very well. The electronic rhythms then start, introducing one of the best and most recognizable melodies that Tangerine Dream ever wrote. "Big Sleep In Search Of Hades" starts with harpsichord laying the foundation for a little melody played on Mellotron-flute that quickly gets stopped by a sinister synth-theme followed by some dark Mellotron strings. The mid-part sounds Eastern influenced. "3 AM At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" introduced something as unlikely as harmonica to the sound. But, it was used entirely just as an atmospheric effect on the beginning and end of the track. Most of the composition is made up of a pleasant electronic rhythm that slowly moves forward and evolves while Mellotron-flute and atmospheric synths are gracefully on top of it. "Invisible Limits" is the lengthiest track on the album. The funky guitar style on the slowly building opening adds some 70's influences. The opening climaxes in a very loud burst of Mellotron before slowing down to a melodic and laidback guitar theme leads into far faster and more energetic electronic rhythms. The finale sounds quite emotional with its melodic grand piano and longing synth lines.

Conclusion: "Stratosfear" represented the natural and necessary evolvement from the previous albums and that at a time when Tangerine Dream still could change within their signature sound. By treating the sequencers as a third instrument rather than an electronic foundation, "Stratosfear" builds on the softer moments creating a surprisingly warm immediate album. The cyclical nature of the arrangements gives the impression of individual songs rather than a single, epic tone poem. The brisk pacing and accessible melodies would continue to play a prominent role in their subsequent work, especially on "Force Majeure" and "Tangram". As I mentioned before, "Stratosfear" would be the last studio album from the trio Baumann, Franke and Froese and many rank it as one of the best from this fruitful period. And if you like of "Stratosfear", you definitely also should listen to Baumann's first solo studio album "Romance 76".

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Review #125! 'Stratosfear' is a very interesting album. It is much like 'Force Majeure', with its nice mix of electronic and guitar-rock elements. I like 'Force Majeure' better, but this is still a damn good album. The title track kicks the album off with a mysterious brew of guitar toe ... (read more)

Report this review (#2935426) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Saturday, June 24, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars With what is generally accepted on a play of words, Stratosfear did indeed reach new heights of a largely musical unexplored region. Its cover, perhaps harking back to the film 2001 A Space Odyssey, portraying a series of reflective Monolith like structures stretching into the distance across so ... (read more)

Report this review (#2524674) | Posted by Mysterioussines | Sunday, March 14, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A masterpiece of elektronische muzik! 1 Stratosfear intro listened to a thousand times, the pleasure of listening in stereo, of having its effects on a Hi-Fi system; good what to say it goes in all directions on a bewitching basic tune, ding, heavy ding; the melody unrolls ... yes it was at the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2311770) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The first disappointing TD album. Although recorded in between two excellent live albums (Ricochet, and Encore), this studio album is the first disappointing release from Tangerine Dream, and unfortunately set the pattern for a series of lesser-quality albums that would follow in the late 70s an ... (read more)

Report this review (#1704121) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, March 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My second meeting with Tangerine Dream was "Stratosfear" from 1976 and that was a totally different experience than "Phaedra" which was boring in all ways. Released thirty-seven years ago by a band made up by Edgar Froese, Christoph Franke and Peter Baumann it's the seventh record by the band. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1046691) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, September 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am certainly no expert on the career of Tangerine Dream, but I am working on it the best way I know how, listening. After being introduced to the band on the so far incomparable Rubycon, I've set about exploring their discography. While not always totally to my tastes, I at least always find so ... (read more)

Report this review (#723091) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the much heavier "Ricochet" I didn't really know what to expect. I very much love "Alpha Centauri", "Atem", "Phaedra" and "Rubycon" because of the impressive atmosphere they have. You see, hear and feel the band evolve. After 36 years I still feel like this though I got to love this one nea ... (read more)

Report this review (#385731) | Posted by Lieven Van Paemel | Monday, January 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let's put it this way , simple and accurate at the same time ,and this is my own opinion , To whom it may concern . If there was no Tangerine Dream ( Franke - Baumann - Shulze - Froese ) , in addition to Rick Wakeman , Didier Marouani , Giorgio Moroder , Vangelis & Mike Oldf ... (read more)

Report this review (#168400) | Posted by trackstoni | Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a great album for Tangerine Dream fans and collectors. Any comparison with Vangelis or Jean Michel Jarre is a complete non-sense and waste of time... No doubt it's a historical album; Tangerine Dream was a truly pioneer of the Electronic Music and we can´t forget that 1970's (not 19 ... (read more)

Report this review (#158609) | Posted by Razor Blade | Monday, January 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I found this album enjoyable but too repetitive and pulsatory. It doesn't surprised at all. I'm not even sure if this could be considered progressive or not but this depends on how you define as being progressive. It has some prog elements but for me this is mostly electronic music. I would recomm ... (read more)

Report this review (#151310) | Posted by petrica | Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As with all the albums from Tangerine Dream's 'classic era' most of the instruments used here are completely electronic, so if you're looking for 'traditional' prog you've come to the wrong place. As with most electronic music there is a strong focus on the texture and atmosphere of individual ... (read more)

Report this review (#133817) | Posted by N Ellingworth | Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Such a perfect album. All the tracks are simply beautiful and perfectly constructed to blow your mind. All the tracks have a wonderful atmosphere, at times a bit spooky, a horror-film-like. The creepy feeling has always been a big part of TD's music in my opinion, and they've managed to capture ... (read more)

Report this review (#32498) | Posted by | Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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