Tangerine Dream in concert

tdc1.jpg

I was going to call this post “Remote Viewing”, after the last track on Tangerine Dream’s Exit album, but the reference is too obscure. Having spent the past week listening to the Pilots Of Purple Twilight box I thought I’d see what concert video might be available from the period covered by the recordings, 1980–83. Thank to some recent YouTube uploads there’s more than I expected. A couple of things are notable about these TV performances: the first is that two of them feature the same annoyingly mismatched audio and video that spoiled Tony Palmer’s record of the group playing in Coventry Cathedral in 1975; the second is that all the footage is from Continental Europe. Tangerine Dream were very popular in the UK throughout the 1970s and 80s—they were on a British record label, after all, and toured here extensively every couple of years—but Palmer’s film is the only record of a British TD concert. These videos aren’t always the highest quality but they make up for the negligence of the BBC and ITV.

tdc2.jpg

Palasport, Bologna, 20th October, 1980.

Mismatched audio and video in the opening scenes, followed by an interview with the group in Italian and German. The audio and video is in synch after this, and includes rare footage from this period of Edgar Froese playing guitar on Diamond Duster, an uptempo piece that evolved into Diamond Diary for the Thief soundtrack. I’m not always keen on Edgar’s meandering live solos but this is still good to see. Also of note for synth-heads is how much of the group’s equipment was still the analogue modular gear they were using in the 1970s.

tdc3.jpg

Platz der Republik, West Berlin, 29th August, 1981.

A big concert in the group’s home city. The opening shows them playing Kiew Mission, the first time they did so in concert with a live singer providing the vocals. The audio for this piece, however, is an overdub from the Exit album.

tdc4.jpg

Lycabettus Theatre, Athens, 30th August, 1983.

A shame this isn’t better quality because it’s the best of the lot: 85 minutes of the group performing (with no overdubs) preceded by 10 minutes of an interview in English for Greek TV. The concert itself features a more elaborate light show than usual, while the first half of the show includes new compositions that later turned up on the live Poland album.

tdc5.jpg

Warsaw Ice Stadium, 10th December, 1983.

And speaking of which (and linked here before), half an hour of the two-hour Warsaw concert. The earlier YouTube copy featured additional footage of a dancer in a studio but this version is sans dancer.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Pilots Of Purple Twilight
Synapse: The Electronic Music Magazine, 1976–1979
German gear
Edgar Froese, 1944–2015
Synthesizing
Tangerine Dream in Poland
Electronic Music Review
Tonto’s expanding frog men
A Clockwork Orange: The Complete Original Score
White Noise: Electric Storms, Radiophonics and the Delian Mode

Pilots Of Purple Twilight

td1.jpg

1982 tour badge not included.

This arrived at last, after the usual shenanigans with Parcelforce and their blink-and-you-miss-em deliveries: 10 compact discs plus a large book that documents the final third of Tangerine Dream’s years on the Virgin label, when Johannes Schmoelling had joined to fill the gap left by Steve Jolliffe. These were all albums I bought as they were released, and I also saw the group for the first time on their 1982/83 tour, a performance from which is documented on the Logos live album. Consequently, I’ve always liked this period, and don’t regard it as lesser than the Peter Baumann years. The two phases of the group’s evolution are very different, in part because the technology they were using by 1980 was very different from the more cumbersome electronics of the 1970s: synthesizers were now polyphonic, sequencers were much more programmable, and digital synthesis had arrived. Tangerine Dream were early users of the PPG Wave, a digital synthesizer that allowed the recording and playback of sound samples. The Wave sound is prominent on all the albums from the Schmoelling period, giving the music a very different character to the earlier Moog-and-Mellotron recordings.

td3.jpg

Pilots Of Purple Twilight doesn’t contain as many revelations as the previous In Search Of Hades box but there are some rarities here which are either making their first appearance on CD or their first official release in any form. The Logos album was 50 minutes of a much longer set from the Dominion Theatre, London, which is now available in full on two discs. (The original Logos album appeared in the shops only five or six weeks after it was recorded, something that amazed and delighted me at the time.) The full concert had been available in the past as part of the fan-produced Tangerine Leaves bootleg series but the recording was typical of the low quality that distinguishes the Leaves discs from the superior Tangerine Tree series. By 1982 the improvisation quotient in Tangerine Dream’s live performances had diminished, so the Dominion concert provides a representative snapshot of the tour as a whole. Some of the new music—the so-called Logos suite—appeared later in the soundtrack of Michael Mann’s cult horror film, The Keep (1983), and another of the rarities here is a variant of one of several discs that have been released as The Keep soundtrack. Unfortunately for Keep enthusiasts, the disc in the Pilots box is the least interesting of the two main Keep releases, comprising a small amount of music which did appear in the film together with a much larger percentage that didn’t. Voices In The Net refers to the 1997 limited-edition release of this music as having been “tangentized” which is their term for old recordings that Edgar Froese later reworked. This pushes the music even further away from the original soundtrack recordings of 1982/82; one of the tracks, Arx Allemand, is a terrible faux-Baroque confection that even Rick Wakeman would reject as sub-standard. The new disc also omits 3 tracks from the 1997 release: Sign In The Dark, Weird Village, and Love And Destiny. There is a Keep soundtrack that features more of the actual music from the film but for that you’ll have to search torrent or bootleg sites for Tangerine Tree Volume 54.

td2.jpg

Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Johannes Schmoelling performing in Perth, Australia, in February 1982. Edgar is playing a PPG Wave 2 while Johannes has a Roland keyboard, probably a Jupiter 8.

Continue reading “Pilots Of Purple Twilight”

Weekend links 534

hasui.jpg

Beautiful night – moon and stars, Miyajima Shrine (1928) by Kawase Hasui.

• One announcement I’d been hoping for since last summer was the news of a second box of Tangerine Dream albums to follow the excellent In Search Of Hades collection. The latter concentrated on the first phase of the group’s Virgin recordings, up to and including Force Majeure. This October will see the release of a new set, Pilots Of Purple Twilight, which explores the rest of the Virgin period when Johannes Schmoelling had joined Froese and Franke. Among the exclusive material will be a proper release of the soundtrack for Michael Mann’s The Keep (previously a scarce limited edition), together with the complete concert from the Dominion Theatre, London. Also out in October, Dark Entries will be releasing a further collection of recordings from the recently discovered tape archive of Patrick Cowley. The new album, Some Funkettes, will comprise unreleased cover versions, one of which, I Feel Love by Donna Summer, is a cult item of mine that Cowley later refashioned into a celebrated megamix.

• “Did you know that Video Killed The Radio Star was inspired by a JG Ballard story?” asks Molly Odintz. No, I didn’t.

Casey Rae on the strange (musical) world of William S. Burroughs. Previously: Seven Souls Resouled.

• “And now we are no longer slaves”: Scott McCulloch on Pierre Guyotat’s Eden Eden Eden at fifty.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Frank Jaffe presents…Dario Argento and his world of bright coloured blood.

• At Wormwoodiana: The Serpent Calls. Mark Valentine on a mysterious musical instrument.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Long-Exposure Photographs of Torii Shrine Gates by Ronny Behnert.

• Mix of the week: mr.K’s Soundstripe vol 4 by radioShirley & mr.K.

• Rising sons: the radical photography of postwar Japan.

• The illicit 1980s nudes of Christopher Makos.

• RIP Diana Rigg.

Garden Of Eden (1971) by New Riders Of The Purple Sage | Ice Floes In Eden (1986) by Harold Budd | Eden (1988) by Talk Talk

Edgar Froese, 1944–2015

froese.jpg

“I was a big fan of Kraftwerk, Cluster and Harmonia, and I thought the first Neu! album, in particular, was just gigantically wonderful,” admits Bowie. “Looking at that against punk, I had absolutely no doubts where the future of music was going, and for me it was coming out of Germany at that time. I also liked some of the later Can things, and there was an album that I loved by Edgar Froese, Epsilon In Malaysian Pale; it’s the most beautiful, enchanting, poignant work, quite lovely. That used to be the background music to my life when I was living in Berlin.”

David Bowie, Mojo magazine, April 1997

Epsilon In Malaysian Pale was Froese’s second solo album released in September 1975. That month David Bowie was in Los Angeles recording his Station To Station album, the opening of which features phased train sounds that are strikingly similar to those that run through the first side of the Froese album. I’ve never seen this similarity mentioned by Bowie scholars but if there was an influence it’s a good example of the degree to which Tangerine Dream infiltrated the wider culture as much as Can and Neu! (Kraftwerk remain in a league of their own.)

zeit.jpg

All you need is Zeit. Cover painting by Edgar Froese.

The influence of Tangerine Dream’s albums on the Ohr and Virgin labels is now so widespread that it’s difficult to compile a definitive list of those who’ve either paid homage or copied the group’s trademark style of extended sequencer runs and phased chords. Offhand I could mention the Ricochet-like tracks on Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark Volumes 1 & 2; the many moments on the early Ghost Box albums, one of which samples from Alpha Centauri; and some of Julian Cope’s more out-there recordings from the late 1990s. There’s also all the releases by a group of loosely affiliated musicians dedicated to maintaining the 70s sound of Mellotrons and bouncing sequencers; many of these I’ve yet to hear but I’ve enjoyed the albums by Node and Redshift.

td.jpg

Tangerine Dream have been a continual fixture in my music listening since I was a teenager; I drew most of The Call of Cthulhu to a soundtrack of Rubycon and Jon Hassell’s Aka/Darbari/Java album. I kept up with them after they departed from Virgin then jumped ship in 1986 after Johannes Schmoelling left the group. The albums continued to proliferate in recent years to an extent that even the Freeman brothers only follow the discography (with some exasperation) up to 1990 in their redoubtable Krautrock tome The Crack in the Cosmic Egg. Navigating a late career is a tricky business for a popular musician so you can’t blame Froese for carrying on the project. Those early recordings are the important ones, and he was a crucial component in their creation.

There’s a lot of Froese and TD on YouTube. If you like the early material these are some of the better moments:

Bath Tube Session, 1969: TD in psych-freakout mode. Klaus Schulze on drums, and lots of German heads looking bemused/bored.
Ossiach Lake, 1971: Playing outdoors for the TV cameras.
Paris, 1973: Footage of the group improvising in the manner of the Atem album.
Coventry Cathedral, 1975: Tony Palmer’s film of one of the cathedral concerts which caused them to be banned by the Pope from playing in churches. The original sound on this one is lost so the YT version has edits of the Ricochet album as the soundtrack.
London, 1976: Great film of the Ricochet period. Total synth porn.
Thief, 1981: The opening scene to Michael Mann’s thriller, and one of their best soundtrack moments. In The Wire this month John Carpenter enthuses about the TD score for Sorcerer but I’ve always felt Mann’s crime drama was a better match for their sound.
Warsaw, 1983: A Polish TV recording of the concert documented on the Poland (1984) album.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Synthesizing
Tangerine Dream in Poland

Tangerine Dream in Poland

td1.jpg

The conjunction this month of the Sorcerer reissue and Celestite, the latest album from Wolves In The Throne Room, has had me listening to a lot of electronica from the 70s and 80s. This in turn led to the discovery of a Polish TV broadcast of the concert Tangerine Dream played in Warsaw on 10th December, 1983, the end of a lengthy world tour which included a date in Manchester on 1st November, 1982, that I was fortunate enough to see. Anyone familiar with the Johannes Schmoelling period of the group will probably know the Logos album, a recording of the concert played at the Dominion theatre, London, a few days after the Manchester gig. At this point the group was playing the same set (with minor variations) at each performance. The Poland event, by contrast, was a special concert taking place in what was still a part of the Soviet bloc for which the group composed over two hours of entirely new music. The full concert was documented on a double-vinyl set, Poland, released a year later, an album I used to play regularly, so it’s fascinating seeing the first half hour being performed here. Also good to see the Schmoelling line-up in action; there’s a fair amount of film of the group from the 1970s but this is the first substantial footage I’ve seen from the 1980s. The TV producers seemed a little confounded by how to present this unorthodox music, so between shots of the group there are cutaways to showroom dummies (shades of Kraftwerk), Polish street scenes, and a woman dancing around in a manner that seems hopelessly naive to a jaded Western viewer. The blue triangle stage set was a nod to the White Eagle album sleeve.

td82.jpg

Tour programme.

Poland was the last Tangerine Dream album I enjoyed wholeheartedly. The final studio release with Schmoelling, Le Parc (1985), had some high points but was more like one of the soundtrack albums the group were producing in increasing numbers at the time. I saw them perform again in 1986 when Paul Haslinger had replaced Schmoelling and the concert sent me to sleep for a minute, after which I decided that it was time for Tangerine Dream and I to go our separate ways.