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This review is from: Solo [1974-1983] The Virgin Years (Audio CD)
Edgar Froese? A challenging name for most British folk to even pronounce, never mind listen to. However in 1973, Richard Branson had discovered to his surprise long complicated instrumental music could be sold by the millionfold to earnest young men up and down the country (see Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells). And thus, Virgin Records' next signing was Tangerine Dream, German purveyors of extremely long and cosmic electronic instrumental epics. 1974 saw their 'Phaedra' album reach unlikely heights in the top 10, and Bransen saw fit to give T.Dream's main man, Herr Edgar Froese, free reign to release solo albums of long cosmic electronic instrumental music too! (Would such a thing ever happen today?!) Over the next decade he'd bring out half a dozen solo albums for Virgin, 5½ of which are collected here.
AQUA (1974) is a seminal, genre-defining work. Deeply ambient watery electronic gurgles for 20 minutes! Tumbling endlessly repeating analogue sequencer riffs, skeins of moog and mellotron draped over them!
EPSILON IN MALAYSIAN PALE (1975) is my personal favourite album of all time. No other record has such consistent power to work as a mood altering substance! A veritable jungle of reverb-drenched mellotron and softly burbling analogue sequences - totally hypnogogic. David Bowie went public as a major fan (and not long after went to the same studio in Berlin, to record 'Low'...)
AGES (1977) is probably the most inappropriate double-album ever released during the punk rock era :) As with contempory Tangerine Dream recordings, it saw Froese move towards a cleaner, perkier, less cosmic sound, punctuated with real drums and the odd wigged-out guitar solo. Not without its moments.
STUNTMAN (1979) and PINNACLES (1983) continue in this vein - rather too anondyne and musical in places... perhaps it was the fault of "progress" in technology, but Froese's output sounded less like incredible evocative 'how does he do that?' soundscapes, and more like just some bloke playing a keyboard with his fingers. Still the odd good bit here and there though.
Plus points of this box set:
- the sound quality is good from a sensitive remastering (by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering)
- the price makes it excellent value for money
- the 5½ albums are squished across 4 CDs, rather than each being given their own disc: so it doesn't make for very satisfying listening per disc (probably more aimed at people who rip CDs onto their computers)
- the excellent original 12" gatefold album artwork has been reduced to a 1" thumbnail of the front covers
- clumsy mislabelling of track names and other typos.
(the one labelled 'Epsilon in Malaysian Pale alternate version' is actually an edit of 'Tropic of Capricorn', and the one labelled 'Tropic of Capricorn alternate version' is actually 'AF 811' - from the Macula Transfer album, which is otherwise omitted from this set, as it wasn't released on Virgin).