Tangram features two `sets' of around twenty minutes each. They are not a theme with variations; rather, they consist of different soundworlds that merge effortlessly into one another. The second set possesses a more dreamlike atmosphere with its lines not as distinctive as the first.
Set one commences with a calm introduction; progresses into `high speed train' mode with guitar and an underlying Jarre-pulse; is followed by Vangelis-like tinklings on piano accompanied by wind and water arabesques; and is succeeded by a wordless lyricism. The ticking of a machine takes us down to subterranean depths where we climb aboard a night-train, passing downline to meet a subdued dawn to what sounds like `Home on the Range' which we had heard earlier in a different form.
Set two also has a calm introduction. Eleven minutes in, a wonderful rhythm underpins lengthy and imaginative variations of upper register sounds including a faux choir. A chopper-bladed dream introduces an unanchored sequence and more faux choir in the style of Ligeti. These are suddenly cut short by a repeat of the end of the first set in a disjointed and unsatisfactory form. Fade out.
Supposedly written (according to the sleevenotes) by Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann, the sets were actually written and performed by Froese, Franke and Johannes Schmoelling.
on 12 October 2004
I bought this album when it came out in 1980 or thereabouts, having already bought several of the bands previous albums.
It was Christmas 1980, and a very unusual time for me, as I had left school that summer,just started my first real job, and I felt very optimistic and open about the future.
Every evening of a two week break, my best friend and i would play Tangram and just completely chill-out.
I was living in a small house with little in the way of heating, and it snowed quite heavily at the time. This just seemed to match the mood of the album, which is at points warm & inviting, homely even (certainly it's always been a friend to me!), but is somehow glacial and cold at the same time.
Whenever I play it, I think of the snow, and open fields in mid-winter, but also of coming home to an open fire with close friends and the simple joy of being alive.
It's a very transcendental album, and i guess is almost my way of meditating. If you lead a stressful life, buy this album, lock yourself in a room (especially good with minimal lighting), and just absorb. I really can't recommend it enough.
Everybody should hear this album once in their lives
on 30 August 2002
This was the first cd I bought and listened to by Tangerine Dream. When I did so I thought ok, it's inteersting, listened to it a couple of times and forgot about it for 3 or 4 months. Then, one day I saw it in my cd collection and put it on the disc-player: and realised I had been wrong those 3 or 4 months. It deserves many listenings. After that, I started to buy some other TD cds; so, if you're new to Tangerine Dream, you may start with this one.
Tangram is made up of two long songs, almost 20 minutes each. They are a sort of electronic collage, maybe following the idea of the title, the songs are like a tangram, consisting of pieces that fit into each other perfectly.
Unlike earlier albums such as Phaedra and Rubycon, Tangram is less atmospheric and ambient and more varied and listenable. Less scary, more enjoyful. Especially set 1, which is my favourite, from the start you get mesmerised by the sound of some processed wind instrument, then some whistling in the middle of the song; it's sometimes more psychedelic, sometimes more Kraftwerk-like; you never get tired of it since the pieces of the song-collage change before you may feel bored of them. Set 2 is more ambient, using more samples and less rhytmic. In fact, in Tangram there's little beat, all the music is made up of the different synthesizer melodies; and, unlike its predecessor, the very good Force majeure, there are no guitars.
I admit I'm only interested in the music Tangerine dream made in the 70's and early 80's; so having this in mind, I consider Tangram, especially the first song, to be one of their best, though as a whole I prefer Force Majeure.
Some sounds may become outdated today, and that's someting many people use to attack electronic bands; however, I think guitar music may also become dated, it all depends on what we look for in music. Personally I like to investigate new bands and new sound, but I also love to feel the pleasure of rediscovering old bands which (as most people seem to forget very often) sounded very very innovative at the time. Once said so, I think Tangerine Dream, though often criticised as being too pretentious (isn't a usual chracteristic of genius being pretentious? wasn't Dali pretentious? and Joyce, and Nabokov, and Roger Waters? etc etc) they should be considered as one of the bands that defined what electronic music and modern music in general is. Maybe less famous than Kraftwerk, but equally as important. And Tangram is a very recommendable album.
on 8 May 2000
The 1980 album "Tangram" marked Tangerine Dream's first studio album with Johannes Schmoelling revitalising the flagging duo of Edgar Froese and Chris Franke. At last, the hiatus caused by the departure of Peter Baumann from the band almost three years earlier had truly come to an end. Consisting of a couple of twenty-minute sets, the album explores a variety of musical moods and demonstrates an overall more consistent and musically unified approach than either of the band's previous two offerings ("Cyclone" and "Force Majeure"). More than anything, though, this is an album of music that soars with the pleasure of its own making, with many of the older, tried and tested Tangerine Dream techniques being served up in fresh new ways, with lots of unexpected twists. All in all, this album is an auspicious herald of Tangerine Dream in their heyday: a run of equally great (or better) albums followed rapidly on this one's heels ("Thief", "Exit", "White Eagle", "Logos"...).
The 1995 Virgin remastering of the CD did little to improve on the original vinyl's excellent production standards (it did no harm either!). Unfortunately, like so many of the 'Definitive Edition' releases, it has introduced several errors in the jewel-case credits: not least the inclusion of Peter Baumann's name at the expense of Johannes Schmoelling in the writing and performance credits! Tsk! Tsk! Still, that does nothing to dampen the listening pleasure.
on 24 October 2014
Not one of their best but not their worst either,its a mish mash of differant sounds,most of them are nice and flow well but every now n then there seems to be this tinny horn type noise and it detracts from the rest but still a good wee album for the price and still takes you off on a journey in yer head when on phones in bed at night.
on 29 September 2007
For those who are wondering, a tangram is a puzzle made up of different shaped pieces. There, that's out of the way.
Tangerine Dream entered a new decade with a new band member, Johannes Schmoelling, a new look and a new sound.
After Peter Baumann left the group in 1977, Tangerine Dream had experimented with prog (Cyclone) and had made something of a masterpiece (Force Majeure). However, the line up situation had been a touch turbulent, so some sort of stability was required. In Schmoelling, they had recruited a classically trained musician, who would remain with the group for half a decade and help them record some of their most interesting and consistently entertaining work.
'Tangram' shows Tangerine Dream returning to their roots a bit, and injecting it with a modern electronic approach. In fact, 'Tangram' works as something of a 'Rubycon' for the 1980s.
There are just two tracks on the album, each weighing in at just under twenty minutes.
'Tangram set 1 has a real commercial feel to it, and has some memorable themes. It's fresh and exciting and also rattles along at a fair old pace.
'Tangram' set 2 has more of an early seventies feel to it, and is slightly harder to digest than the previous track. Die hards would approve though.
What separates 'Tangram' aside from other Tangerine Dream works, is that there are very few other instruments on display, other than synthesizers. Yes the sequencers are still present, but the album could have really benefitted from some percussion and perhaps some guitar here and there.
Having said all that, 'Tangram' is a very lush, sophisticated sounding album by a band who are keen to embrace technology and make their sound more relevant, while still trying to be original and keep to their basic principles, so as not to alienate their fanbase. In that desire alone, 'Tangram' is something of a success, and a good start for this new line up.
on 23 December 2009
You don't have to be a Tangerine Dream aficianado to appreciate this but it's a complex album and your first listening may leave you wondering. Persevere, the more you play it the more you will hear and enjoy. It's a 'must have' for those who immerse themselves in their music and a fine addition to any collection.
Tangerine Dream seem to have made shed loads of albums, some more successful than others, but this one is my all-time favourite. A piece in 2 parts, it blends the usual pulsating, haunting and repetitive themes to be found in most Tangerine Dream compositions, but there is something special about this one.
As other reviewers here have said, it's the ultimate chill-out, lose yourself in meditation music experience, and an album that is frequently played on my iPod or CD player. The download at the moment looks insanely cheap - and worth investigation for anyone yet to explore the wonders of this great, and timeless piece of music. I've enjoyed Tangram for almost 30 years - there's not many pieces of electronic music you can perhaps say that about! If I could only select one Tangerine Dream album for the desert island - this would be the one.
on 14 November 2009
Distinctly Tangerine Dream. A must for any fan of Tangerine Dream. Music to simply escape into and get lost in the evolving melodies. Tangerine Dream were pioneers in electronic music., along with Jean Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk was a very industrial germaninc sound...Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre are more ethereal..electronic Mozart!!
on 15 February 2015
I bought this cd for my husband and he was very chuffed. He'd forgotten just how good it was. And the moral of the story is, hold on to it, if you do buy it.