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Tangerine Dream Tangents Review

Compilation. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

While this isn't quite up to the level of the Chapman Brothers' recent desecration of...

Peter Marsh 2002

In an age where it seems that pretty much every band that's walked the planet gets their own boxed retrospective, you might think that a 5CD boxed set of a highly influential and groundbreaking outfit like Tangerine Dream would be a good idea. A quick glance at the tracklisting might confirm this; the material's drawn from the band's tenure with Virgin,so we get classics like Phaedra, Rubycon and Stratosfear. Plus there's a whole CD of unreleased material, not to mention a lovely booklet with lots of pictures of intense long haired Germans hunched over endless banks of synthesizers. Yum.

So the beanbag's ready, the lava lamp's warming up and the joss-sticks are lit, when gradually the realisation dawns that something's not quite right. Yup, these aren't really the original versions.Back in 1994 (when this compilation first appeared) TD mainman Edgar Froese got busy remixing, editing and sticking extra synths, drums and guitars all over them. Edgar's motives are difficult to work out; he must think he's somehow improving on the originals, but overall the results are a bit of a disappointment. While this isn't quite up to the level of the Chapman Brothers' recent desecration of some of Goya's etchings, it's hard not to feel that the odd moustache has been drawn on some Old Masters.

The early classic material suffers the most; it's hard to see why the warm, cosmic throb of something like Phaedra deserves to be augmented with glassy digital synth washes or bombastic synthetic drumming. Likewise Froese drowns the muted, plaintive miniatures of Sorcerer (my personal fave TD album) in glutinous, sappy string textures. Yuk.In the80s, as the Dreamfought to keep up with technology (like everyone else) rather than having to continually push it in order to get it to do their bidding,their music semed to lose its character. Where it was once dark, rich and improvised, now it was squeaky clean, bright, metronomic, given to grandiose rockisms. This is maybe why the 80's records seem a better fit with Froese's shinyembellishments. Here they work as additions rather than subtractions; to the extent that indifferent material like Hyperborea comes off pretty well. There are lovely moments (particularly in the more reflective of the soundtrack pieces), but not enough to change my feelings about their later work too much.

But even if you like all the music here, it's not really possible to recommend this as any kind of definitive collection, simply because these aren't the original recordings. Froese can do what he likes with his back catalogue, but to my ears he's guilty of rewriting parts of a story that just deserved to be told truthfully. A luxury item for completists only.

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