Tangerine Dream are one of the most important pioneering electronic acts who began in 1967 with the advent of more complex electronic technologies. They always used bass, guitars and drums, but developed a more experimental improvisational edge that won fans world over. They were one of the first to use modular synthesisers, and their sound quickly became dominantly synthesiser. Edgar Froese has been the driving force of the band with many band member changes. “Tangerine Dream became recognized as the pioneers of a new instrumental music and introduced new sounds, sound effects and production techniques.” changing the face of music forever(1.)
Tangerine Dream’s Quantum Years tour was made possible by the Melbourne Music Week. Support act, Melbourne’s Black Cab were a well suited 80’s influenced sounding electro psychedelic act, who played both songs and instrumentals.The show began with Edgar alone on the pipe organ. The players enter and we are introduced to old Tangerine Dream ‘Ricochet’. The mix is great. Speaker arrays hang high above the stage and lights of magenta, and blue illuminate. I stand at the right of stage and the cyclic pound of a bass sequence recurs, penetrating my body deeply. I asked the security guard for some plugs, thankfully my wish was granted. Six screens show us some plugs in screen shots of software.
An electronic violin plays in one tune. The sub frequencies are insane. A cello is played in another by Hoshiyo Yamane. Touch pads sessions views, Roland Juno, Nords, Virus TI, synth, synth, synths, sequences, sequences, sequences are a visual feast. Ostianto’s all played live. Electronic heaven.
Two ambient room mics hang from the top of the stage. It’s multi-core galore spaghetti junction wire world. The tempos of the pieces are bio-harmonious, nothing the heart cannot sustain naturally without going into destress. This work reminds me of the womb, the steering incessant beat of the mother’s heart. Pleasantly entrained we are taken on a journey across spacious landscapes with destinations different for every soul. Tangerine Dream always create space, expansive space and even when rhythm and drum is more present, they do not confine and bind one to the body as does the electronic dance music of today, it allows the mind to travel throughout distant universes of tangerine land.
I find myself wanting to know more, I don’t know who is playing what apart from the cello or violin and electro pad drums, when they are played. Horisho plays the touch pads, violin, erhu and cello. Thorsten Quaeschning plays synthesiser, organ, electro drums, Ulrich Schnauss plays piano synthesiser and Edgar Froese organ and synsthesiser. I counted 11 synths, including two modular Moog Voyager synths. Edgar is to my far left, Hoshiyo closest to me, the boys in between.
It could only have been a theatre or ancient amphitheatre space that was suitable for the creations of sonic space that only Tangerine Dream can provide. Musically drones, ostinatos, arpeggiated parts, simple melodic lines provide theme like material whilst pleasing timbres and chords bind it all together. A lot of sequenced parts are played in real-time by hand. Tempo changes up a bit and all transitions are smooth. We get a moment to applaud between each track. The players know their set, it is two hours solid. We come into a lower slower melancholic piece, very much feeling like a goodbye. Another work is highly evocative, layered, started by Froese, then an oriental infusion features. Sometimes I can tell who is playing what, I watch fingers as much as I can.
We got taken on a journey through approximately 20 pieces, with one encore (see link) I look around at the lights and both beams and circular forms bounce off bodies and walls. The Melbourne Town Hall venue is spectacular, a very majestic space. Floor boards, seated balconies, and ornate lights hang from the roof. Fresco’s of simple skin tones adorn the walls, possibly a story about a common human theme.
I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and the opportunity to see one of my musical hero groups. I found myself listening from many different levels, enjoying, analysing and recording information for the review. And to top it off I got to meet the band and thank Edgar for a lifetime of inspiration.
References 1. http://www.tangerinedream-music.com/index.php