also by Tangerine Dream:
The final album from what is often seen as Tangerine Dream's strongest period, with third member Peter Baumann, is "Stratosfear". It was a striking change of direction. The layers of psychedelia and cloudy impressionism of "Rubycon" and "Phaedra" are left behind for a crisper, rockier sound, introducing guitars to their synth mix. This is closer to the symphonic prog rock of Genesis and mid 1970s Pink Floyd. Indeed the mellotron and 12 string guitar of the first track's introduction could have been lifted from Genesis's "Foxtrot". Rick Wright's industrially ominous work on Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" is another reference point. "Big Sleep In Search of Hades" also reminds me clearly of the flute and guitar interludes from Steve Hackett's "Voyage of the Acolyte".
Comparisons aside, the Tangerine Dream imagination for sound painting is evident. Despite the simpler sound it still has colour. The spiky Moog solos on the stark title track, and throughout the album, set the tone for a lot of their work of the coming years, but they never managed to supersede this one. The bloated title of "3 AM at the Border of the Marsh..." is excused by its picturesque swampy harmonica, fattening out into swathes of Mellotron. The wah-wah guitar adds a strange 70's pop touch to "Invisible Limits" for a short while. But as the track enters its serene closing piano section, I can't disassociate it from the last part of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". I respect the way the piece ends, with a decisive piano full stop.
So those more accustomed to the prog rock standards should definitely find this an enjoyable route into Tangerine Dream, before tackling "Phaedra" and "Rubycon".
December 14, 2004