mardi 1 novembre 2011

TANGERINE DREAM: Tangram (1980)

"Tangram is a brilliant continuity of Force Majeure"

1 Tangram Set I 19:47
2 Tangram Set II 20:28


Tangram is a game of reflections which could be compared to a Chinese puzzle. But in reality it’s more than that! It’s the beginning of a wonderful musical epic where EM, such as known at this time, evolved towards horizons always so complex but with a sharply more melodious approach. To Franke/Froese it’s also the confirmation that they are as much skilful in handling the complexities of heavy atmospheric passages, as on Force Majeure, than evolutionary and steady melodies. Above all, it’s a wide section of creativity which is closing behind Tangerine Dream and its psychedelicotronic approaches with Johannes Schmoelling's arrival, a classical musician who will insufflate to Franke and Froese a more poetic and melodious prose. And finally Tangram also marks the Virgin era. Doubtless the most splendour era for the Dream, that also multiplied some great legendary concerts. And for some, like me, the Schmoelling era is Tangerine Dream’s most beautiful one.
As soon as the first notes fall, we feel that Tangram will be special. A synth whistles delightful fluty layers whose breezes espouse a melody which spins and swirls with the drunkenness of a light sequential movement. Incantation for lycanthropes, Tangram's opening bathes in an enchanting aura of mystery with addition of another synth line which crisscrosses and supports the first one, as well as a fine bass line which pulses delicately, crossing at random scattered notes of keyboards and guitars. This delicate oniric intro is spellbinding and we forget the latent crescendo which is raising, while "Tangram I" bursts on sumptuous harmonious layers, a pulsating sequential line and drum rolls which accompany the flute of a forgotten foot soldier. On a boiling rhythm, ''Tangram I'' is flew over by furious synth and guitar solos, shaping a structure as heavy and wild as we find on Force Majeure. And then it turns towards a more symphonic passage, and then silence … A silence watered with a rain of stars, drawn by a beautiful serene piano. We only are at the 8th minute spot and the piano forges the beginning of a wonderful melody which will arise from a fusion of synth/piano beneath the eye of a noble acoustic six-strings. This soft intermission brings us into the tortuous metallic universe of TD, where balls of steel collide in the perdition of their echoes until that a vaporous synth re-aligns the directions and leads the movement towards the heavy melodious meanders of "Tangram I". This powerful synth throws keys and fragments of melodies which are subdivided on a furious sequential line, spitting the poison of its harmonies such as an owl possessed by a synthesized spirit. The last part of "Tangram I" whips senses with this huge sequential gallop filled of divided and crisscrossed chords which hold a maelstrom of unappeased melodies. Fragmented melodies in constant permutation which are engulfed and swirls in any direction in the claws of guitar roarings, heavy keyboard riffs, powerful resonant pulsations, metallic percussions and a decreasing sequence sounding a lot as the one we hear on The Who’s Won t Get Fooled Again. In fact it’s like a huge melodious psychedelico-progressive rock ending in the synthesized sweetnesses of a superb solitary synth which sings to us a wonderful lullaby and which misses its soft madness.
More complex and tortuous, "Tangram II" espouses quite the same modulations but with a more obscure and psychedelic approach which sounds a bit more as Force Majeure. The intro is suntanned by synth layers which are interlacing and coiling up in an opaque ochred inertia. This slow morphic intro, fed by fine oscillations, wakes up with heavy apocalyptic reverberations which cover a fluty synth and solitary chords of an acoustic guitar. A powerful staccato movement follows. It gallops on a spasmodic and hatched sequence which adopts the shape of a train flying at brisk pace through the plains of lost melodies and spectral voices. Dazzling atmospheric passages, drum rollings and a fusion of syncretic tones furnish the ambiances and diversified rhythms of "Tangram II" which is constantly impregnated by metallic and syncretic tones while taking on some suave melodious approaches. Metallic and limpid, the synths buzz with heaviness and harmony. Heavy and wild, the sequences tumble at high speed. These elements, interspersed with bursts of guitars, metallic percussions, choirs and sound effects from beyond the grave, make of ''Tangram II'' a sound labyrinth at once heavy and complex but all the same rather melodious, which doesn’t stop being renewed in loops and timeless musical sortilege. It’s a 2nd audacious part which reminds above all that Tangerine Dream will always be in wait of the slightest ill-assorted elements in order to mark its territory of unknown excesses.
Tangram is a splendid album which soaks into a heavy dark and dramatic ambiance, like 2 long psychotronics nightmares where werewolves and mythical animals dupe our fantasies eroded by our greed of the unknown. It’s a brilliant continuity of Force Majeure where rhythms, ambiances and melodies become entangled in a perfect symbiosis. Flanked by Schmoelling, Franke and Froese modify greatly the face of EM by bringing heavy and powerful progressive structures which ally the musical researches and the increasing exploration for new equipments to catchy melodies. It’s the beginning of New Berlin School where melodies and harmonies can be grafted in ambivalent structures without altering the psychedelicosmic, metallic and explosive meanders.

Sylvain Lupari (2009)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream
You can also watch a video of Tangram I excerpt here:

1 commentaire:

  1. I agree with your sentiments.
    Although Rubycon/Phaedra are to me 10/10 albums and worthy of being in everyones collection, Tangram seems overlooked. Perhaps it is a bit too organized and clean for some, but it is a masterpiece of arrangement and complex details.
    The opening sequence is what turned me onto electronic music. A superb piece of sequencing. For me it's as good at making a 7/8 rhythm smooth as Brubecks "Take 5" is at making 5/4 flowing.
    So for me whilst it lacks some of the improvisation and spaciness of their earlier albums (and edges to cheesiness occasionally), it is an underrated masterpiece.


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