Over the last two months I have gone near full immersion into the world of Tangerine Dream. It wasn’t because there was a new album coming, it was because I knew the name and influence, I knew the ideas and sound and I’d heard several of the soundtracks – at first without knowing exactly who was behind them – and I wanted to build my working knowledge of this band, this entity – sometimes only a solo project, often duo and small trio work, but then occasionally a guest singer would mildly ruin the work of this proud instrumental group, or it would swell to a much bigger sized band even though the overall sound was no bigger.
Strange, sometimes magical music abounded.
I didn’t need to go as deep as I did – but I’m glad I tried. Listening to about 120 albums and compilations in just a few weeks. It was Groundhog Day for a bit – sometimes most pleasantly, sometimes a little too Groundhog Day.
But I survived. And my prize at the end? Well, there’s a new release by Tangerine Dream. Lol. Edgar Froese left this world in 2015 and that certainly has slowed down the releases by the group. But – maybe remarkably – Tangerine Dream continues. And there have been a couple of new collections. This latest is billed as an EP – given its three new tunes and two remixes – but it’s 40 minutes long and five songs in total, and throughout the 70s that was Tangerine Dream Album staple, in terms of length and feel. So, no shortchanging here.
This version of the band has stayed devoted to the Froese sound library, actually using material from his deep archive, crafting it to sound new, updated. Opener, Raum, plays out over nearly 15 minutes and is a deep scene-setter, the Shine On You Crazy Diamond of this album, skittering synth percussion eventually building up beneath the slow, wide wash of keyboard textures.
Para Guy is next, just 5-6 minutes, and it again builds out of a slowly drawn synth line, evocative of the perfect Nature Documentary Soundtrack feel that sits so heavily within the classic Tangerine material. But Para Guy’s strings lift it towards transcendence.
Continuum is the final original track, seven minutes, and a hint of hip-hop framing to it, a rhythm track that feels like when Kraftwerk got dance-y. It’s very nice. Solid effort.
Grand River arrives to remix the opener, chopping it in half for a start, and at just under seven minutes its slow build is of course quickened. If the original track was Shine On this is the Floyd of On The Run. All build and promise without ever transitioning to full melodic scope. A careful ratcheting of tension though, so very filmic and score-ready.
Barker closes off the EP with a remix of Continuum – it’s nice, and Jarre-like. It doesn’t feel like any intrusion on the world of Tangerine Dream, merely an actual continuation. This is true of the EP/album in general. It’s nice. You’ll like it if you’re a fan. Would I have bothered if I hadn’t been on this recent journey? Seems unlikely. Will I return to it often? Probably not. Is it decent though and in keeping with the style and feel of the band when offering its vital tenets? Absolutely. And are the questions going to stop, is this not just the end of the review but the end of Mr. Question-Talker? Yes. Yes it is.