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Deven Gadula (san francisco, ca, united states)
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This Is Our Punk-Rock Thee Rusted Satellites Sing
This Is Our Punk-Rock Thee Rusted Satellites Sing

5.0 out of 5 stars destroy all dreamers with debt and depression, 16 Mar 2014
I don't understand the significance of the beginning vocal lines of this album and the count to eight. Perhaps there is none. The beginning track, So Some Lonesome Corner, although I consider it great, is perhaps my least favorite of these four (now after listening to this album pretty much nonstop at least 25 times in the last week). I have completely failed to recognize the greatness of this music a decade ago. The beginning minutes introduce us to the Tra La La Band With Choir in a way some of us may find annoying. To me these are the weakest minutes of this album, only because it is so awesome in its entirety. I seem to recall pressing the forward button during the 6th minute of this beginning track a decade ago. The 7th minute transforms this song building the mood reminiscent of Michael Shrieve's Planetary Unfolding (an amazing atmospheric ambient composition). The remaining 8 minutes keeps us in the background of this atmospheric realm with the elements building it into a rock song. If, like me, you love this 9th and 10th minute and wish for more, download a beautiful composition by Steve Roach called Desert Prayer. You will be able to soak in a similar mood for over 12 minutes. And the greatness of this album by Thee Silver Mt Zion and the reason that to me personally this is one of the most intriguing albums i know is that so many fragments of songs of these complex compositions are reminiscent of some of the best pieces of music of the masters of ambient, atmospheric, modern classical, and experimental music. And the way they are all attached to one another is truly brilliant. Other bands have used violin and cello players on their albums, but there are moments on this one, where I don't hear classical instrument players but composers. It is almost as if Arvo Part and Gavin Bryers were involved in this creation together with Efrim Menuck.

The following track, Babylon Was Built On Fire was the most difficult for me to break through and I considered it a bit too intense at first. However, it actually contains so much greatness. The beginning 5.5 minutes of Babylon, extended to 60 or so minutes could easily be released as a very interesting atmospheric ambient album with modern classical elements. A mixture of some of the most interesting moments of Tangerine Dream's Zeit with Gavin Bryars' Sinking Of The Titanic approching Alio Die's Expanding Horizons. The middle vocal part between the 6th and 9th minute is very intense and may be hard to absorb for some casual listeners. At the end of 10th minute the song evolves into its following beautiful and more melodic vocal line and the final 3 minutes contain some of the most interesting layering of vocal lines I have ever heard. Gentle Giant might have introduced vocal harmonies to rock music decades ago, but Efrim took them to his own level within this song.

The following track American Motor starts as it could been a Pink Floyd's song from The Wall. This is the least complex rock song of this album. To me its 10th minute is the most interesting because of the amazing string movement transitioning the song to its chorus.

Goodbye Desolate Railyard is one of my most favorite songs of Silvet Mt Zion, next to 13 Angels Standing Guard, The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyed, Ring Them Bells, 100,000 Died To Make This Sound, Could've Moved Mountains, Sisters! Brothers!, Sow Some Lonesome Corner, Stumble Then Rise, Teddy Roosevelt's Guns, and the above mentioned three songs of this album. For most of SMZ's biggest admirers Born Into Trouble or He Has Left Us Alone are the strongest albums, most likely. I felt the same way because I have completely glossed over this album, This Is Our Punk Rock. Now I feel like this was Efrin Menuck's masterpiece. Very old school; like the vinyl records from 1970s. A couple of great longer compositions per each side. This is not only my favorite album by Silver Mt Zion but some of the best music I have ever heard. How beautifully complex all four of these compositions are. The overall mood stays constant but music approaches so many grounds. Every ground he approaches he challenges as well. This final song brings on one of the most spectacular transitions between beginning in the 5th minute.The repetition of a motive becomes minimalist in texture and time comes to almost a full stop. As the seconds drag the intensity becomes overwhelming and we could be listening to the experimental noise music of Ultra Milkmaids or Rapoon or Zoviet France in the 8th minute. However, I have never encountered such a well done 'transfer' as the rolling train motive of the 9th and 10th minute. For many people this is not music but for me categories limit our experience. The final moments are brilliant as we will all agree. I have not listened to SMZ's latest album yet and I hear that it might have came down a few notches. However, with this album alone the band had established itself at the foreground of greatness, forever. Godspeed You Black Emperor's 2000 masterpiece Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven was and always will be one of the jewels for me. I see a lot of similarities between these 2 albums. They both contain 4 compositions, although SMZ's are shorter. This album, 'This Is Our Punk Rock' Thee Rusted Satellite Gather + Sing is, I believe, much more under-appreciated and its greatness will still surprise many admirers of these amazing Canadian musicians.


Sceneries
Sceneries

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'it is on you, comes from you...hand it over', 15 Mar 2012
This review is from: Sceneries (Audio CD)
It seems like the members of Sylvan have decided to focus their operations and concentrate only on what they are best at. When an emotionally charged vocal performance of complex mood changes within a song establishes your unique place in rock music, you might as well walk all over that special ground. I applaud that decision. Sylvan had given us Former Life on Presets and the title song and Turn Of The Tide on Force Of Gravity but both these albums were excellent because and only because each one of them contained one of those Opus Magnum of theirs... Presets and Vapor Trails. Posthumous Silence was the most extensive one of them. Well, they are giving us five progressive songs of complex structure on their new double album. I don't find them to be related to each other in any story line way, perhaps besides the fact that lyrics of last three compositions appear to be based on dreams, or such presentation was Marco's intention. Appropriately this new release is called Sceneries.

In musical terms this release is a very good band effort and an improvement over the 2009's Force Of Gravity. Each one of the five songs presented here stands strong on its own. Which one of them will become your personal favorite depends on your taste and attraction.

The Fountain Of Glow begins the album and it should reward the fans of Sylvan for their patience. This composition was worth our two year long anticipation. Lyric-wise, within this song about the universal love we have received a meaningful call to action. 'It is on you, comes from you...hand it over'. I agree, if we want to change the world we should start with ourselves... Share The World With Me showcases the beauty and scales of Marco Gluhmann's vocal (I find his greatest moments on 13, 1, 7, 3, 4 and the opposite one on11) and as is mostly the case with Sylvan, keeps us captivated by the vocalist's capabilities and emotional expression rather then the depth of his lyrics or a special sense some meaningful vision might have left behind with us. Marco makes us feel intensely even if he doesn't illuminate us in any deeper way. It is a beautiful composition and unfortunately there was a recording noise left at the beginning of 2nd and in the middle of 3rd section. It sounds like a vinyl record left turning on a turntable and I don't think this was intentional. Could it be fixed? The Words You Hide is my least favorite song of this album and it contains a fragment (11) many of us will end up skip over, but other parts of it may appeal to the long term fans of Sylvan, as they might be the heaviest. . The Waters I Traveled contains, to me, the most beautiful fragment of this entire album (13). Farewell To Old Friends may very well become your favorite song of this album, at least at first. Its construction is brave (the most pop:ular) and it contains some excellent group climax during (18). For some reason the words get in my way of loving this song of many hooks and not limited substance, and I hope it is only my own bias. There isn't a bad song on this album.

Sebastian Harnack skillfully masters constant rhythm changes and his bass line drives the music forward with melodic strength at times coming to the forefront. Listening to The Force Of Gravity album I wished Sylvan would add cohesion into their style. Volker Sohl delivers just that on Sceneries, perfectly. Numerous transitions are orchestrated by him and either originating the compositions or filling the space adding texture perfectly. At many high tempo full of sound sections Volker's keyboard atmospherics are very reminiscent to Richard Barbieri's, making me wonder if Volker is as taken by the final couple of minutes of Porcupine Tree's - Fear Of A Blank Planet album as I am. Minute 1:43 of section 8, 2:10 minute of section 10, or 3:31 minute of 18 carry great examples of his texture upon so much texture building. They flow and grow in harmony and it feels to me that a lot of the design elements come from him. His fingers are all over this music of almost every single section, enhancing it in so many ways. Matthias Harder's drums remain such an integral force within these songs. He stays out of other's way but brings all the strength when called for (by Sebastian). And when he comes fully on, we have no questions why he has been here since the very beginning. Jan Petersen's guitar participation ranges from adequate to very impressive, especially during the beginning and final song. Jan has proved his place within this band and his playing does not lower anybody else's levels. However, Sylvan's music could become a perfect place for two guitar players talking to each other through their chords and strings. I still think that the best thing that could ever happen to Sylvan would be the return of Kay Sohl, who had started this band over twenty years ago and left it over five years ago unhappy with the approaching change of artistic direction. Perhaps now, that we have gone down the valley and half way back, would be a great moment to turn around and see what might be found? Popular songs did not last long but they are not completely gone, either. They have progressed into parts of rock compositions of a style called Sylvan. Personally, this is my favorite Sylvan, I prefer over the much harder and heavy band from a decade ago, dominated by Kay. Perhaps because this Sylvan of Vapor Trail, Presets, The Fountain Of Glow and The Waters I Traveled is so much more unique in its approach. However, I do question the vision, the hopes and the dreams, and perhaps if they could turn back their division, the big picture would somehow...grow on the spiritual level. The leaving behind the original force of this unit by the rest of it must be affecting all of them behind the scenes. The extended arms opened towards the one left aside could ignite some amazing energies within all of them (as well as us, their audience). The powers of forgiveness, compassion, humility, unity, and whatever else comes upon us with the light of that fountain of glow you have just put in front of us could shower us all with an amazing surprise. It is on you, comes from you, hand it over... Let's face it. The only way Sylvan will gain universal recognition in this incredibly challenging environment of the 21st century is by making a masterpiece of an album trumping all they have done so far, including the Sceneries. There could be much more meaning behind the words and the execution of your substance could be elevated even higher. Your architecture is great but the house could use more artwork on the walls. The library might be elevated to add inspiration and the atmosphere would still grow. The strings you had used so successfully on Posthumous Silence would sound great again on your next album. We are so very very close... Your music is great and we need just a tiny bit more from you to help you with our common goal. We want you to make it huge and yes you can...

I have to say honestly that at first I was a little overwhelmed by all these offerings placed in front of me. First of all, it is hard to get into the music of Sylvan without at least some emotional involvement from the side of the listener. Covering quite different grounds in the last few months I found myself having to break through the distance to meet Marco Gluhmann at least part way and be put under his emotional spell. I can see how some people can be unaffected or annoyed by the mood, if they don't allow themselves to really get there, and that can take a while. On the other hand, how long are we able or willing to stay so very exposed emotionally listening to this music? That varies from person to person, and from the moment in time, but in general I bet that the length of our experience has a lot to do with the depth of the substance, if we happen to be English speaking. I used to listen to rock music having no clue what the words really meant, aside from trying to translate them on my own. The beauty of expression of a piano or a guitar or a voice, meant all the same to me. At times now I wish I could still listen on such level, but I can't, unless I pick up some foreign language composition. Sometimes the words we hide mean more than what we show.

It is interesting that Sylvan's new album is coming to us almost back to back with the new album of Gazpacho of Norway, another excellent progressive rock band of a slightly lighter tone but with perhaps similar vocalist dominated repertoire. Jan Henrik Ohme's vocals approach us in much the same way of expression over meaning. One difference between these similar musical styles is the abstraction of Jan Henrik's palette. You focus on methods of delivery over substance while he takes the meaning out of the equation as he is 'singing you a rainbow, painting you a dream'. But...that's another review...


The King of Limbs
The King of Limbs
Price: £9.38

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'don't blow your mind with why', 15 Dec 2011
This review is from: The King of Limbs (Audio CD)
When a couple of months ago Tom Yorke posted on his facebook wall the fact that he liked the music of CAN (Future Days is my personal favorite one) not only has he given us a hint as to the direction of the focus of Radiohead's new arrangements, but perhaps he also meant to ask us to look at the length of their new album from a perspective. And we should because The King Of Limbs listening experience is not about the length of duration but it's all about the depth of expression. Radiohead's new music and lyrics keep on growing within us in many hidden ways.

So now that one of the most and longest awaited albums is here, what can be said about it? The melodic beauty becomes less important and the repetitive layers from the background of Radiohead's past and from the final minute of many songs of In Rainbows come forth and take over the center stage. The atmosphere of The King Of Limbs should not surprise anyone because it sounds like a natural progression of the music of In Rainbows and The Eraser, Thom Yorke's amazing solo album (make sure to listen to And It Rained All Night and Harrowdown Hill for a while, if you are not hooked on them yet). Lyrically, I would dare to state that we have received a concept album from Thom Yorke. Not that he had been beating around the bushes in the past but this time 'the artist, the judged' reveals the depths of his own being to us in quite overwhelming and fully committed way. He points us (man upon a stick) into the direction of a poem called Sailing To Byzantium by William Butler Yeats who is proposing the idea of oneness connecting the immortality of human spirit and art. So what is the conceptual statement of Thom Yorke's latest creation? One liners are out of the question but here is what I read between his words (coming from Thom's mind):

Sometimes you need to breathe deeply to let the tsunami waves of the spiritual ocean in and out of you. I see your spirit behind your eyes, but unfortunately we are as rare among humans as magpies among animals in being able to perceive and to recognize our own true selves. God knows I am. And little by little we both know that you know, but are we true suckers for all things spiritual or just real posers? We, flowers of lotus, the symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth; why do we shine with exterior motives, which only bring us emptiness and fool us by our own blown egos? Let us withdraw and leave most of our stimuli behind us and focus on what is inside and real. But wait... i can't really feel you anymore... stripped by the tsunami waves of the spiritual ocean.

Bloom spreads its wings all around us and what a song it is. Listening to it feels to me like I could be standing in my own hallway hearing Rapoon's Recurring Dream Circle or Kirghiz Light playing in my room and the sounds of one of Radiohead's ballads coming out of my wife's room (she constantly listens to them). I can almost bet that Thom shares my love of repetitive experimental sound. That happens to be a dangerous addictive territory in which your brain, when hooked, starts repelling melodies. Bloom ((next to Lotus Flower) is probably the most complex sound texture of The King Of Limbs. It is eerie, powerful and intoxicating. Those years are over but I can only imagine the depth of trips this song could induce if taken with substances. This is ambient, experimental. industrial, folk and choir music coming to us all together. An amazing achievement.

Morning Mr Magpie is another extreme grower. It has the most in common with The Eraser, but its layers are more complex and developed. First time I listened to this album I completely skipped over this one, and now I can see that I start liking it more and more, little by little, but that's the title of the next song.

If a band without any financial needs places eight songs on an album following their earlier release by almost four years, and on top of it they happen to be Radiohead with their incredibly creative and ground breaking achievement of portfolio, I will listen closely to their every song. Little By Little might have been the one alluding me the longest, and I am beginning to wonder if perhaps this one is by crook, Thom is such a tease and we are such a flirt...

Feral sounds like a drum beat applied over textures of one of the better :Zoviet France: albums (What Is Not True; Look Into Me; Just An Illusion; Shadow The Thief Of Sun; Mort Aux Vaches Feedback; and Shouting At The Ground are my personal favorites). The later part has this ZF feel to it and it creates quite an atmospheric background to very rare drum solo.

Lotus Flower is the most powerful and intense song of this album, because of its unique contradictory expression. It is lyrically the darkest, most complex and revealing but melodically it is a nice simple cheerful song, and with such easy going happy-go-lucky voice Thom delivers the song's gloomy content. The simple melody of Lotus Flower comes with all toppings needed to fit this album. What an amazing final cut and how much it adds to this album. The layers here are spectacular: random hands clapping, dissonant textures, the sound of small rocks shaking, delay and echo effect, voice harmony sampled and distorted beyond recognition, fractured rhythm coming and going in and out of focus, the constant movement of the focus itself, and (if that was not enough) a synthesizer sound imitating the sound of some baby animal evoking our emotional reaction. Seriously, as in Bloom, we have to acknowledge the magnitude of this texture. There is some similarity to Jigsaw Falling Into Place in terms of melody line, tempo and energy but a lot of music has been replaced by a wall of looping sound full of distortion and vibration. We realize that we no longer listen to Radiohead only with our ears, but it feels like we are breathing this texture in and our nervous system certainly participates in our listening experience to a much greater degree as well.

Codex is today my favorite song of this amazing album (tomorrow it could be Bloom, Lotus Flower, or Give Up The Ghost). It has this minimalist Videotape feel to it. The introduction, the ambient layer, the distortion, and the gradual growth are all so hauntingly atmospheric, like a journey to the center of beauty. Someone is trying to dissect beauty into its smallest, gentlest aspects and is successful in reaching into the center of my soul.

Give Up The Ghost is as much about the music as it is about the space the music plays in. Could Thom be sharing his next focus with us? It is possible and probable that our next Radiohead experience will have even more to do with the relation between their music and the silence it breaks, and Give Up The Ghost could be giving us a clue... How do we sound to a... fly?

The steady and unsophisticated drum beat of Separator begins this song which strength lies in its looped echoing later part bouncing off this constant beat. The textures of sound come in and out of focus as well, the voice, guitar parts, vocal harmony, beat again; we are being surrounded by constant change, and we are also given a buffer before... we come away from our latest Radiohead experience worried that we might have lost our dear Thom Yorke for good now, and that he is not interested in our exterior world anymore. This song separates us from the spiritual world of this phenomenal creation.

Not every Radiohead fan will llke this album but we should all remember that trying to evaluate this music and lyrics upon listening to these songs a couple of times is simply silly. This is not an album you fall in love with in your heart. You expose your subconscious levels to this music and given time it will make you attuned to its delicate vibrations. I have been listening to this album for over a month now, but I can't just be randomly listening to it (and it happens to be the worst skiing music). It is simply too intense of an experience to experience it fully. It takes much longer to get there. For me that means loud quality sound all around me, on repeat, over and over again for at least a few hours... Welcome to The King Of Limbs...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2012 11:20 AM BST


Ricochet (Live)
Ricochet (Live)
Price: £4.97

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars multi-layered rhythms of ricochet, 11 Jan 2011
This review is from: Ricochet (Live) (Audio CD)
Ricochet is an album put together out of live material collected from Tangerine Dream's English and French tour in 1975, following the release of Rubycon. Although there is some audience noise at the very beginning and very end of this composition, it stops as soon as music starts, as the band's intention was to make this record feel like a very unusual hybrid album. This is the only explanation for excluding the audience noise from the end of part one and from the beginning of part two of this arrangement, besides the very obvious fact that peaceful and quiet environment is the best way to fully appreciate the music of Tangerine Dream. At least one part of this composition, the beautiful piano melody beginning Ricochet part two obviously was recorded in a studio. Played live among the screams and clapping its beauty would have been jeopardized, sacrificed and tarnished. The genius of this creation has a lot to do with a phenomenal editing of 40 hours of material and with the production of the final 40 minutes of this rhythmic beauty almost completely void of any ambient parts, unlike anything like that ever before done by Tangerine Dream.

Because of its overwhelming majority of multi-layered rhythmic sections almost fully void of ambient moments approaching silence, Ricochet does not require from us the same listening awareness as many of their other great albums do. You can listen to it in a more withdrawn fashion focusing on the strength of your own composition. This album also creates a much better background to any sport or physical work related activities, than any other golden era album of Tangerine Dream. The only slower sections are short introduction and conclusion and the parts showing off Tangerine Dream's new voice synthesizer in the 7th minute of part one and another one in the 14th and 15th minutes of part two. The energetic and optimistic atmosphere Ricochet spreads upon us is the result of a few elements at play. The unique high tempo energy of the structure of this composition is achieved by the amazing warmth and depth of the synthesizer pads used to play these rhythm loops. The other element enhancing our experience is the subtle difference between the sounds of the synthesizer pads used to generate that beat. They are constantly evolving but they stay incredible warm and pleasant to be around. The tempo of sequences also moves only so slightly; speeds up, slows down, becomes distorted, goes through an echo, vibrates, comes back to its pulsating state. This is were I am finding most of the brilliance of this particular composition.
Ricochet part two belongs to some of my favorite music by Tangerine Dream. From the beginning piano introduction through the multiple-layered rhythm loops, to the spectacular 17th minute motif (which could have been dedicated to Miles Davis and inspired by his Bitches` Brew) and till the very last moments, this music's energy is one of consolidated greatness. The synergy between this golden crew of Tangerine Dream achieved its subtle perfection during their recording of Rubycon earlier that same year. There is a certain energy captured within the music of the first half of Ricochet's part two which reminds me of another 1975 opus magnum, Ommadawn. Within that album there is thus energy of 'becoming' captured brilliantly in Mike's evolving guitar solo. I sense similar energy in this synthesizer motif of this part of Ricochet. The rhythm coming to us in the following minutes has on the other hand this Jean Michel Jarre feel to it. Since Ricochet proceeds Oxygen and this music was played live by Tangerine Dream in France, I wonder how affected Jean Michel was by it. Perhaps his experience of this creation lifted his spirit towards his own airborne creations of the following months.

If I needed to chose just one composition of Tangerine Dream to take with me for an extended period of time, there is a big chance I would take Ricochet with me. I truly love the space this energetic album puts me in. And it does not require as much attention from me as my favorite composition of Tangerine Dream, the majestic and magical Invisible Limits.


Rubycon
Rubycon
Price: £5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the golden middle ground of rubycon, 9 Jan 2011
This review is from: Rubycon (Audio CD)
It is probably fair to say that Rubycon still captures the ambient atmospheric background in a way much more similar to Alpha Centauri, Zeit, Atem and Phaedra, then to following it Ricochet, Stratosfear and later albums, when ambient sections were becoming movements adding meaning to and slowing the overall flow of songs. Rubycon also has more melodic rhythm periods in common with Ricochet, Stratosfear, Encore, Cyclone and Force Majeure than any of the above mentioned earlier albums of Tangerine Dream do. In that sense Rubycon could be considered a perfect middle of the road album of the golden decade of Tangerine Dream.

Rubycon is one huge texture of sound consisting of interchanging ambient and rhythmic segments. This album is a perfect variation on a theme by three gifted and well connected players who introduce their ideas and elaborate on them in various ways. The beginning and closing minutes feel very classical in the way the composition is constructed with every key pressed as needed, to create this amazing mood. The music of the middle sections of the album does allow the players to be more spontaneous with the way they introduce their solo motifs and how they elaborate on them. However, all of them conform to the previously agreed upon and clearly defined structure of harmony and rhythm. This music is almost completely synthesizer, organ, piano and mellotron created, with very slight guitar parts in it. Prior to recording of this album Edgar Froese's mellotron got equipped with orchestral instruments recorded by the BBC. The sounds of oboe, horns and string sections add to our experience. Christopher Franke's double Moog synthesizer is completely mastered by him by now, and it is in charge of the rhythmic parts of this composition. Peter Baumann's piano and organ solos can be recognized by their simple and playful charm.

Atmospheric introduction and build-up of the first seven minutes, with its spectacular 'awakening motif' coming to expression repeatedly in the 3rd minute is the proof of Tangerine Dream's mastery of mood creation. Whenever I listen to Rubycon forgetting about this amazing upcoming motif I can hardly believe that the entire introduction to it takes only two minutes. That ambient build-up is so well structured and developed that it possesses an amazing ability of slowing down time. That obviously had been one of the main powers within the ambient sections of Tangerine Dream's 1970s music. The entire seven beginning minutes of this album (as well as seven ending minutes of it) are truly spectacular, but you will not know that while listening to it for the first or second time. This music really needs to sink into you deeper than that to reveal itself fully. Edgar Froese introduces a voice of choir for just 2 seconds at 5:50. The way the following section of sequenced rhythm loops starts at about 6:15 is again, very unique and memorable. After that the sequencer gradually takes over the loops of rhythm and for the following 9 minutes it is a fast pace environment which slowly comes down within the last 2 minutes of first part of Rubycon.

The second part of Rubycon begins in ambient atmospheric way again with the inclusion of the choir sounds generated by Edgar Froese on mellotron. In the 5th minute the tempo of Christopher Franke's sequenced rhythm becomes very fast and vibrant. The synthesizer motif of the 10th minute is very interesting. Then everything slows down again, the sequenced rhythm loops quiet down and in the 12th minute we are taken back into the very atmospheric ambient and spectacular ending of this album. No wonder Tangerine Dream were asked over and over again to provide music for soundtracks. That ending six minutes of Rubycon carries a real power to move us instantly out of our surroundings and to position us somewhere else completely. Unfortunately, working for Hollywood couldn't have been done with the passion they expressed working for us and for themselves.


Zeit
Zeit
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £26.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars medieval zeit of cosmic proportions, 8 Jan 2011
This review is from: Zeit (Audio CD)
If you listen to later albums of Tangerine Dream for a while and then pick up Zeit (possibly because you notice five stars next to it) you might say 'oh my God where did the music go?'. I agree with you. Parts of this recording sound as if the microphone could have been located next to a malfunctioning water heater or refrigerator. Then at other times as if some strange noise was added to the sound of a frequently erupting geyser. On occasion it's just a whole bunch of unexplainable and unnecessary cosmic noise. However, the depth of your experience really depends on where you are coming from. If you happened to spend a lot of time listening to modern classical music of Gavin Bryars, Krzysztof Penderecki or Gyorgy Ligeti and then you start listening to Zeit, you might find the beginning this album sounds of overwhelming cellos truly spectacular and avant-garde. You might get the sense of finding yourself in the space of avant-garde modern classical essence captured and being minutely dissected.

Birth Of Liquid Plejades is truly awesome if you really want to find yourself on another plane all together. The beginning seven minutes could be an orchestra sound recorded from the inside of a cello, or on another hand, an awful nightmare of a cello player. It is mostly a multiple cello sound distorted and blown out of proportions. However, it really achieves the objective of taking us out of our environment and preparing us for what comes next. For a while we are being surrounded by very distorted Moog synthesizer (used by TD for the first time) and by a mellotron vibrating in and out of this wall of sound void of any rhythm but with plenty of bubbly texture. In the 10th minute the organ sound appears and it feels very ancient, like it could have been the sound of the organ prototype. Unfortunately there is a lot of recording noise we can hear as well, but what is the problem with an additional layer of noise? In the 16th minute the organ takes the central stage for a while and it really starts feeling like some mediaeval performance. Are we the only ones listening or has some UFO landed nearby, attracted by this amazing vibe? All we need is some paintings of Bosch to go along with the music. The Nebulous Dawn comes next and this is my least favorite section of this album, mostly because it takes me away from the medieval mood I was finding myself inside of, and it positions me near some outer cosmic highway, where I am hiding from scary creatures and their vehicles, which I can hear passing me by. Could it be that the meaning of Zeit has something to do with the destination the album takes (me at least) to? I travel to the past as well as the future when I listen to this music. Origin Of Supernatural Probabilities brings on quite a magical mood which unfortunately does not last long enough and in the 5th minute gets overwhelmed by the bubbling noise, soon getting distorted by the band. I still like this part a lot, I just would love to go back to the beginning of this song again. We find ourselves listening to the experimental noise broken by occasional screams of some poor dinosaur getting eaten alive. Why would you listen to things like that? Again, to find yourself in an altogether different dimension. This music is strange but I still find it ambient and peaceful. It lets me concentrate on my things and it provides not a beautiful but interesting and unique background to my occasional hours. The fourth and title track Zeit unites the album's previous themes and chapters. The cellos come back in the 12th minute and they don't necessarily sound extremely inviting or reassuring. The over amplified recording puts to test the limits of our speakers or headphones. Oh well, this really is a museum piece, so I shouldn't complain. This final section of Zeit ends without any warnings. This is my second favorite section of this album, with plenty of growth potential in it, if you can provide time and patience.

Again, my five stars reflect my utmost respect for Tangerine Dream for creating such bizarre and unusual work. This is not one of the albums I ever play on repeat for an entire day, as is sometimes the case with some of their later music. I like playing Birth Of Liquid Plejades on repeat 1, which for me creates more of a mediaeval and less of a cosmic overall mood. I listen to Zeit, as I listen to the music of Rapoon or Zoviet France, Ultra Milkmaids or The Hafler Trio, when I really feel like clearing the state of my mind. I have heard people say that while in such corner, watching a movie works for them. I use experimental music instead. However, I chose peaceful experimental music over anything hectic. I am not a big fan of music which drags me down spiritually and Zeit although so dense and deep, is not dark to me. It is a monumental work of art positioned on its own ground, although definately not an easy listening experience.


Phaedra
Phaedra
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars new sequences of sound of phaedra, 5 Jan 2011
This review is from: Phaedra (Audio CD)
Phaedra is like a mother protective over her nest. How many intruders came by to listen and turned away after a while, confused? The ones allowing this listening experience to run its full course in peace probably found themselves intrigued by it enough to go back, and might be still hanging around the nest, occasionally today, after 36 years. There is some magic captured in this...taming of sequences of sound by man, for the first time in this particular way.

For the ones patient, withdrawn or strong enough to let the music or noise of prior four albums of Tangerine Dream, proceeding Phaedra, to grow their roots into their own psychic net, the first use of the sequencer by the band added new dimensions to the listening experience. The sequencer allowed the cosmic noise to start breathing in and out of moods in greater harmony than before. The beauty of Phaedra lives in its repetitive elements and in the mysteriousness of climate it puts us in. The subtle melodies floating in and out of this atmospheric background have this unassuming quality to them. Rather than making us focus on themselves they contribute to the overall growth of our experience. Our appreciation of the repetitive minimalist sound often has as much to do with how relaxed it makes us feel after a while as it has with how it affects our flows of thoughts and concentration levels. Phaedra includes the layer of minimalistic repetitive sound but it distorts it and it adds to it, quite a lot at times. There is a lot change within the repeating sequences and they are only a part of the story here. However, my feeling is that without that repetitive layer, Phaedra's influence would not be as pronounced.

The title track was being just rehearsed by the band but somehow that rehearsal ended up being released. These guys were just playing around with their new malfunctioning equipment at first, but after listening to that process they had decided to hand it over to us. As with many of their works from that period, the final minutes of each improvisation were the most powerful, since by then they were all under the impression of their own creation. I find it interesting that the latest songs of bands like Radiohead and Massive Attack also contain a lot of distorted substance within the ends of their songs. The minutes proceeding the ambient middle section and the entire evolution of the reintroduced theme awakening from that ambient phase in the 11th minute, and the remaining minutes of Phaedra are spectacular. The inclusion of the voice of children playing warms the composition up, spiritually. Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares is a beautiful mellotron suite composed by Edgar Froese with the slight help on a phaser from his wife Monique, while both Peter and Christopher were asleep after a long recording session gone sour, possibly having nightmares brought by their constant problems with the malfunctioning equipment. This was the first track of Phaedra to be recorded and from then on the rest just happened (or they decided to just let things happen). Movements Of A Visionary is a very mysterious composition, to me at least. There is this fauna atmospheric layer the piece starts and ends with but the composition is held together by the rhythm of pulsating Moog hovering around the distorted melody lines and delivered by Christopher Franke. And it is this hypnotic interplay of distortion floating in and out of motives which I find, still today, so special here. One of the lines is quite jazzy in its approach. This is one of these tracks I sometimes like to play on repeat 1 for a while just so I can fully get in there, right into that nest. I can think of a few bands which starting about a decade later decided to devote their entire musical careers to focus their own visions on such subtle movements of sound. Sequent C finishes this album in a reflective, peaceful, or perhaps even a solemn way, by a short distorted flute movement delivered by Peter Baumann.

If you won't immerse yourself in Phaedra you will not get near it enough to appreciate it fully. There is also a great possibility that you can become a real fan of Tangerine Dream without ever liking any of their earlier works. Such diverse is their repertoire. If you are new to Tangerine Dream and you don't spend time listening to ambient and experimental music, you might want to choose one of their later albums first. They contain much more melodic beauty within. Stratosfear, Force Majeure, Underwater Sunlight, and others, including even some of their late 1980s work, like Miracle Mile or Lily On The Beach. And to all of you lovers of Phaedra, there is an American band you might have missed. It is called Labradford and although the road it takes you on is a little different, you really end up in a similar destination. You might also want to explore the realm of Zoviet France and Rapoon.


Force Majeure
Force Majeure
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classical overtones of force majeure, 4 Jan 2011
This review is from: Force Majeure (Audio CD)
The beginning minutes of the atmospheric buildup starting the title track and this album can be easily dismissed as nothing happening yet. If you took this 3:51 long section out of context and played this loop at higher volume constantly for an hour or so, you would notice how reach it actually is. However, that is not what this album is all about. Back in 1979 this was the most melodic and harmonious album by Tangerine Dream. To me it always felt the most classical at the same time. Force Majeure suite, over 18 minute long includes the motif appearing between 16:20 and 17:40. It is an old La Follia folk dance motif originated in Baroque and used in classical music compositions since the 17th Century by over a hundred composers including Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Vivaldi and Rachmaninov. I don't know if there is any single motif ever used more than this one in all of classical music. The way Edgar and Christopher composed this song with the sounds starting to appear out of noisy ambience at about 10:30, transcending into a gentle melody originating the idea at about 12:00, and flowing into the gradual progression towards the La Follia motif at about 14:10 sounds fantastic. From 15:55 to 16:20 they are showing us how easy it is for them to tie things together. Then La Follia blossoms between 16:20 to 17:40. It really seems like that could have been the sequence of creation. Then they reintroduced the melody and the buildup, without La Follia section in the earlier part of this composition and connected both sections with the ambient part two, located between 8:50 and 12:00, which comes equipped with the sound of the approaching train. Christopher Franke was the one with the actual classical training and this composition feels very classical in its structure. I love this piece, although I absolutely agree that I don't sense any magic here, of Invisible Limits or Movements Of A Visionary proportions. Force Majeure is much more calculated and measured, but I take it and love it for what it is. When I want to be surrounded by magic I play their earlier works.

The following composition, Cloudburst Flight is probably one of the best known songs of Tangerine Dream as it was often part of compilations and played live by both, Tangerine Dream and by Christopher Franke on its own. Many people first heard this song while watching Risky Business and ended up joining the ranks of Tangerine Dream followers. It is also the most favorite track of Tangerine Dream for many. The initial acoustic guitar sound adds warmth and the overall melody is very romantic and harmonious. I know that many die hard lovers of earlier Tangerine Dream do not like Edgar Froese's electric guitar solos. Although I hope that this particular evolving guitar line bothers them less. It is not as distorted as some other ones. Personally, I love the early music of Tangerine Dream, but Edgar's later guitar solos do not bother me at all. I would say that the guitar line of Cloudburst Flight is spectacular. Sure, this is not the sound of David Gilmour's guitar but even that would not sound the same within this electronic content. To some degree everything is distorted here, synthesizer or moog created and when we hear cello within this music it does not sound like itself either. The entire canvas is distorted and that's the way it is.

Thru Metamorphic Rocks is most likely one of those guitar driven pieces which some listeners skip over, being turned off by Edgar's distorted guitar sound. The following phase develops into some galloping rhythm picked up by the drum beat of Klaus Krieger, who was helping on drums on Cyclone as well. For a while we are first being taken into some nightmarish space of strange sounds and noises and after spending some time there we realize that we are actually listening to that train again, which we heard approaching in the middle part of Force Majeure. According to Edgar Froese a part of this composition was quite accidental created not by them but by a malfunction of their equipment. They decided to leave it as is and to build around it.


Cyclone
Cyclone
Price: £8.42

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'with wasted tears that try to fight in vein', 4 Jan 2011
This review is from: Cyclone (Audio CD)
Back in 1978 Tangerine Dream was at the height of their career. Their beginning 4 albums; Electronic Meditation (1970), Alpha Centauri (1971), Zeit (1972) and Atem (1973) might had been loved by a selected group of unwavering souls of their emerging followers, but placed aside by the majority of overwhelmed listeners. Phoedra (1974), Rubycon (1975), Ricochet (1975), Stratosfear (1976) and Encore (1977) were all much more accessible and more widely appreciated and heavily reinforced by TD's first soundtrack Sorcerer (1977) they were exposing the band to a much wider public. The golden line-up of TD consisting of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann which lasted 7 years and 9 albums ended prior to the creation of Cyclone. Peter Baumann had left the group to focus on his solo recordings and Steve Jolliffe, an Englishman, had replaced him. My feeling is that Edgar's and Christopher's choice had a lot to do with wanting to experiment with English lyrics and with the meaning behind the lyrics, so paramount to the substance of great progressive rock. Cyclone had become their progressive rock album and it ended up disappointing many followers of Tangerine Dream. I ended up falling in love with the mysterious lyrics of Bent Cold Sidewalk. At first (at fifteen)I was even more enamored by the energy and sound of Rising Runner Missed By Endless Sender with its straightforward lyrics, but I have to say that today I feel differently about this song. When you listen to the following instrumental song Madrigal Meridian, you can hear how much beauty was covered or blurred by the human voice of the preceding two songs. Very likely that realization became obvious to our artists and that was why we seldom heard lyrics again. However, so many of us did not have to wonder anymore of how Tangerine Dream would sound with vocals. Although Alpha Centauri did bring some of them, we could not quite speak of songs. Besides the lyrics Steve Jolliffe added to the sound of Tangerine Dream in terms of increased wind instrument sections. The instrumental part of Bent Cold Sidewalk as well as Madrigal Meridian has some beautiful flute, horns, and clarinet and piccolo sections within them. Madrigal Meridian is a five star song in my book. There is a lot going on here, that's for sure. Pretty consistent up-beat, and the melodic spiral-like motif introduced in the 9th minute on a synthesizer is being picked up by the guitar in the 11th minute. For some listeners of TD Edgar's distorted guitar sound might have damaged the piece but the violin take on that Prokofiev inspired movement in the 13th minute sounds very warm and it continues and transitions the piece in the 17th minute into a slower atmospheric section. In the 19th minute the sound of Steve Jolliffe's flute brings on an cello and violin solo epilogue. However, the most interesting layer of Madrigal Meridian for me is its dramatic experimental sombient atmosphere of 3rd minute and than the phenomenal 8th minute, drum and organ induced. The sound Christopher Franke created the 8th minute sounds similar to the one Richard Barbieri ends Porcupine Tree's phenomenal Fear Of The Blank Planet album 30 years later (I am sorry, that had nothing to do with Tangerine Dream). Again, I can understand that this is hardly anybody's favorite album by Tangerine Dream but it is hard for me to understand why you would not take it for what it is and listen with pleasure to, once a while. Perhaps when you feel like solving a riddle?

Bent Cold Sidewalk is a riddle I only partially understand. Nature is full of Spirit which the cities are lacking. I lose my touch with the Spirit when I stay there. Our civilization brings no answers. We live our human lives focusing on trivia nonsense blurring our vision to push us forward. We wish to stay physically young and we relive memories of our youth in sadness, rather than reaching for our real spiritual destiny. Each incarnation is a key; death destroys the mind but death is not the only entry into the universe of cosmic sound (the universe is full of cosmic sound where all thoughts originate). If you can strengthen your meditative channel you may become exposed to the Mystery of Creation, come back here safely and use your mind to analyze the situation. However, do not open these doors if you are not strong enough to withstand the dangers hidden outside the consciousness. `Wasted tears that try to fight in vein'. What an amazing concept. Tears fight, well, if they do they must be fighting for the soul to be acknowledged. I think that understanding is correct because it is confirmed later on in `I die to fight!!. I die to fight!!, I die to fight!!'. Yes, when we die only the soul is left of us, so it does come to expression then. I think that `bent cold sidewalk' stands for our physical body, but I am not sure. I don't understand the crown and the table with dusty plates metaphor. Let me know if you do. And does `this door' stand for our present human incarnation in and around the 20th Century? That would explain why it is so heavy and deeply stained (especially if you happen to live in post war Germany). Heavy substance and delivered to us by an Englishman in a Gothic envelope which could almost be taken for a German accent. Absolutely one of a kind. The same goes for this entire album. However, if you are new to Tangerine Dream and not sure where to start, perhaps you should not start here, unless you love progressive rock genre. Otherwise, please read my review of Stratosfear.


Stratosfear
Stratosfear
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars invisible limits of mysterious beauty, 3 Jan 2011
This review is from: Stratosfear (Audio CD)
Invisible Limits epitomizes the beauty one can find within the music of Tangerine Dream if he is willing to engage his inner space and...give it time. Especially now in the 21st Century this music may at first appear both futuristic and already dated, but after a while you will notice the purity of this electronic expression and the peacefulness of your destination. Invisible Limits, the final chapter of this album , to me personally frankly might be the most amazing 11 minutes of cosmic rock music I know (perhaps next to Klaus Schulze's Floating somewhere between 10th and 21st minute). There is some intense melodic beauty in other compositions of Tangerine Dream like in Ride On The Ray, for instance, but the magic of Invisible Limits approaches me in its mysterious way. This is the song you can safely play on repeat 1 for a couple of days and get a lot out of such experience. Substance-wise there is more going on here within these 11 mega minutes than there often is on many 80 minutes of cd space.

I can understand that someone might not care that much about beginning this album title piece Stratosfear itself but to say that TD's greatness ended prior to the release of this album, is to have skipped over Invisible Limits. And you can easily skip it over if you don't listen to it carefully at least a few times, so you can really get there.

To me personally the musical development of Tangerine Dream since their ambient experimental beginnings of Alpha Centauri in 1971 lasted until the 1986 release of Underwater Sunlight because their music had come its entire course only by then, from the colorless sound risen out of noise to the full melodic expression of easily approachable undeniable beauty for all. The concept of artistic destiny is often quite different for ambient electronic musicians beginning their careers at the stillness of sound, from the much more mainstream situation of artists like David Sylvian or Mark Hollis and many others who progress into silence. And when the destiny of Tangerine Dream was fulfilled completely in 1986, sure, it would have been great if Edgar Froese was able to turn his spaceship back at that time and position it somewhere between Rubycon and Stratosfear, or Rubycon and Force Majeure, and circle around that space for a few years, showering us with more gold. The ship went forward with Hollywood as its main destination and the crews kept on changing.

My personal favorite albums of Tangerine Dream really depend on what mood I want to be in. Sometimes the need for 11 minutes of personal magic could make me reach for the Stratosphere, at other times Pheadra or Rubycon could have delivered the most proper ambient background to the state I am at. Ricochet's multi-layered rhythms provide spectacular tempo whenever I need to dive deeper into some things. Sometime Cyclone would be my choice if I happened to be under the progressive rock influence or in a mood for. And many times I would go back to Force Majeure which I might be connected to in a very special personal way of planning my major life changes to, back in 1979.

Coming back to Stratosfear to me this album gets progressively better. It starts with the energetic Stratosfear track, very familiar to many from its inclusions during TD's live shows. It is a good track but I like the acoustic overtones of The Big Sleep In The Search Of Hades just as much. 3AM At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee is the perfect title to this eerie piece of music with plenty of space inside of it. Its peacefulness becomes the perfect ground for what comes next. It is possible that Invisible Limits is just my personal obsession, but from the very moment it starts I am simply blown away. The melody line just starts pulsing gently along and it is very unassuming and simple, but the atmospheric background which appears in about 0:43 with a simple flute melody over it is perfect and the way all of the above interact in such a peaceful way until in 2:50 the gentlest drum beat appearing only for a few seconds on the entire song brings on a.... loud splash. From 3:10 to 5:10 it is a typical Tangerine Dream at work but than about 5:30 this gorgeous western theme appears for only a minute or so. Right before the 7:00 we got a complete change of mood, brought by a very interesting synthesizer sound and only the echo of our melody is left and we are approached by pure space atmospherics. And out of that moment of silence in 9:00 the motif of Ludvig von Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata appears, as a gorgeous piano and flute interplay, and it ends this album in a very romantic way. Such absolute perfection completely improvised proves the accord and harmony of this genius crew of the Tangerine Dream spaceship.


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