By 1975, too, the band had received sufficient financial recompense from their recording successes to have equipped themselves with an impressive array of (largely) custom kit, making them capable of producing sounds that no-one else at the time could come even close to emulating. Almost 25 years down the road, the music obviously isn't such a novelty any more, but it remains every bit as vibrant-and unique-as it ever was. And this album shows just how comfortable-and brilliant-the three were when working together in front of an audience. The music-making here appears to be so effortless and is truly captivating, even now.
Following the group's usual live performance practice, "Ricochet" plays as two continuous sets with just one break-for the old vinyl side-change. 'Ricochet Part 1' features some trademark Tangerine Dream synthesiser calls, into which their hypnotic minimalist sequencer pulses soon penetrate, augmented throughout by much excellent live percussion work. Classic soaring mellotron lines are joined too by massed poly-Moog sounds, lifting the music to new emotional heights. As perfectly structured as ever, the music throbs and pounds its way through 17 action-packed minutes.
'Ricochet Part 2' starts in much more contemplative vein, with a gentle grand piano solo, which soon turns into a duet for piano and soft mellotron voice. It isn't long, though, before an analogue sequencer pulse returns with a vengeance to lead the music into perhaps the most intense passage in any TD work heretofore. For the next ten minutes, layer after layer of rapid (and rapidly shifting) sequencer patterns and boisterous percussion lines tumble and clamber over each other in a fast and furious race for supremacy. There is a short lull, as some stunning Les Paul guitar-playing by Edgar Froese briefly distracts attention from the rising pulse, but even this quickly turns into more musical conflict: a struggle between guitar and synthesisers! This is allowed to develop only briefly, before the percussion battle erupts violently once more, finally enveloping and obliterating all around it, as order collapses into a chaos of amplified hammering and clamorous voices. From this chaos, a mournful mellotron line gradually ascends to restore order, issuing in a calmer and less frantic sequencer pulse, over which the concert proceeds to a more civilised (and clearly much appreciated) conclusion.
Virgin have recently undertaken a full remastering of their complete Tangerine Dream catalogue and, like most of the others, this release brings a fresh new perspective to the original release. The dynamic range has been extended (although the vinyl pressing was always impressive anyway) and some of the problems of tape saturation in the original have smoothed out, if not eliminated entirely. The analogue synthesiser voices are warm and enveloping, while the percussion (much of it real) is crisp and cleanly presented. All of the impact of the live performance has been preserved too, despite some of the later studio overdubs now being a little more exposed than they used to be. There are certainly no distracting artefacts, though, and while its 38-minute running time is terribly short by modern CD standards, the quality of the music-making exhibited on this disc remains unparalleled.
The beauty of Tangerine Dream is not just in their revolutionary use of electronic instrumentation, but how they mix that with more traditional, acoustic instruments to produce an organic sound, something not purely electronic. The use of mellotron gives a haunting quality, particularly the use of flute sounds in part 2. Edgar Froese's trademark Les Paul guitar sound is heard to good effect in part 1. In fact Froese is such a good guitar player. Listen to his wonderful solo on "Magic Lantern" from the "Beyond the Storm" compilation to see what I mean. The use of percussion too is important in setting the dramatic tone of this album.
The line-up of Froese, Baumann and Franke worked wonderfully and their potential is fully realised on this album. The intuition between each player is spellbinding and it must have been something special to behold within a live setting.
This period which produced such albums as "Phaedra", "Rubycon" and "Stratosfear" clearly indicate that the band have left a lasting legacy of important musical statements, which not only show how Tangerine Dream were crucial in the evolution of electronic instrumentation and music in the 70's, but also how they wrote some of the most breathtaking music of that period.
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