Of all the groups that emerged from the Krautrock scene, Tangerine Dream were among the most immediately successful. Their German-ness was not an obstacle, given their name, and despite the bleak worldview that accompanied vast, early ambient forays like Atem – depictions of a universe utterly indifferent to humanity, rather than a source of cosmic delight – audiences were blown away by the on-stage spectacle of their immense, black banks of sound equipment, dwarfing the humans working it.
This four-CD collection, compiled with the approval of the band, comprises recordings made at the Palais des Congres, Paris in March 1978, and at the Palast Der Republik in East Berlin in January 1980. The line-up is ever-shifting, with Edgar Froese and Chris Franke joined by Steve Joliffe and drummer Klaus Krieger in Paris, and Johannes Schmoelling in Berlin.
Unfortunately, as the 70s progressed and synths became more ubiquitous there was a shift for the worse in the TD sound topography. Each of these unnamed tracks proceeds in a similar way – clanking, ominous atmosphere-building, either on electronics or flute, before the sequencers warm up and Froese begins to scamper up and down the keyboards in an unedifyingly prog fashion as the pace builds.
There are moments of sturm und drang – a Gothic passage during the French concert that reminds, forebodingly, of Joy Division, but other sections are mere plateaux of dated blandness. Still, there is a cathedral-like monumentalism about TD that keeps you engaged even at their dullest.