Tangerine Dream - Particles album review

Edgar Froese may have passed but the Tangerine Dream machine floats on

Tangerine Dream - Particles album artwork

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“When I am gone they should search for the mystery of the dark candle in the big white room,” Tangs mainstay Edgar Froese enigmatically informed an interviewer before he died suddenly in January 2015. Meanwhile, his widow Bianca Acquaye says that, with Froese’s blessing, she will continue to work closely with subsequent line-ups to fulfil her late husband’s avisions, despite Edgar’s son Jerome, a member for 16 years, declaring TG cannot exist without the man who formed them in 1967.

For decades, TD have seemed light years away from the Floyd-influenced psychedelic outfit formed at Berlin’s fabled Zodiac Club, or 1970’s debut Electronic Meditation, the bonkers jam between Froese, drummer Klaus Schulze and guitarist Conrad Schnitzler that scored their record deal with Ohr. After 1971’s feet-finding Alpha Centauri, the epic Zeit saw TD creating evocative deep space symphonies that hugely influenced the nascent prog movement. 1973’s Peel-championed Atem secured a deal with Virgin, the astonishing Phaedra providing an unexpected Top 20 breakthrough. The Froese, Peter Baumann and Christopher Finke line-up would lead to a 40-year career that saw their music often getting smoother and sleeker.

The post-Froese line-up of new musical director Thorsten Quaeschning (who joined in 2005), keyboardist Ulrich Schnauss (2014) and electric violinist Hoshiko Yamane (2011) debuted last June at the Polish concert that became a live album. In September they will release Quantum Gate, the first installment in The Quantum Years, a phase Froese intended to use for revisiting TD’s seminal mid-70s sound.

Particles gives a taste of things to come and indeed sounds like Tangerine Dream as they deploy their trademark floating ambience, soaring cathedral melodies and pulsating sequences on disc one’s three tracks recorded in Berlin studios. After the atmospherically ambient 4pm Session and glistening cover of the theme from hit Netflix show Stranger Things (itself influenced by TD), they confidently revisit the classic Rubycon.

Disc two, recorded live at last September’s Schwingungen Festival am Wasserfall, presents new tracks and straddles the catalogue with glossy remakes of 1980’s White Eagle, ’86’s Dolphin Dance and Shadow And Sun’s riding, keening hang‑gliding-over-mountains-in-your-underpants synths.

Although Froese’s spirit is obviously nudging the musicians’ cerebral faucets, without their leader, this is essentially still the world’s most officially approved tribute band. Well worth a digital bubble bath for TD’s many devotees though.

Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!