jeudi 1 août 2013

TANGERINE DREAM: Tyger (1987-2012)

“Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes harmonious and sometimes insipid, Tyger has this odor of an era which is dying of its uncertainty”

1 Tyger 5:49
2 London 14:24
3 Alchemy of the Heart 12:15
4 Smile 6:11
5 21st Century Common Man, Part One 4:49
6 21st Century Common Man, Part Two 4:03
7 Vigour 4:57
8 Tyger (single 7") 4:27

Jive Electro CHIP 47 & Esoteric Reactive EREACD 1030 (CD 61:53) ***
(Melodic and progressive New Berlin School)
Tyger” is the last TD studio album with Chris Franke aboard and also the last album of Tangerine Dream to squat a place, 88th rank, on the UK charts. It's the swan song, the last waltz of the famous duet Franke and Froese who are, in my opinion, the Lennon and McCartney of EM. But contrary to The Beatles, which left us with a huge musical monument, Franke & Froese get separated in the controversy by sowing the consternation among the fans with an album which calls on for the second time the services of a vocalist. After the fiasco of Cyclone, album always denied by Edgar Froese more than 35 years later, Tangerine Dream retained the services of a rhythm'n'blues female singer , Jocelyn Bernadette Smith, to decorate an album inspired by the poems of the English painter William Blake. Far from being a disaster on the artistic plan, the album rests on the same paths of Underwater Sunlight, “Tyger” follows this slow curve of disappointment which tortures the fans since that Tangerine Dream gives to its music a more harmonic touch against a less progressive and experimental approach. A little as if the numerous soundtracks got the better of the mythical German band's creativity.
Nevertheless, the title-track kicks off very well this new adventure of the Dream with a delicate structure which enchants so much with its grace that its sensibility. The chords which introduce us to "Tyger" are ringing like a soft nursery rhyme. This has to be the ideal music to sing, or talk in that case, on it; so much the tempo is slow of its spheroidal structure which swirls in oblivion while leaning on sequences floating slightly as the wings of a ballerina. It's like a carousel that we wind up before going to bed. We easily imagine grandmother, personified by Mrs Smith, reciting us a black poem before the sleep on a music situated to the borders of Legend. The voice of Jocelyn Bernadette Smith floats with emotion and passion (we shall learn later that she was particularly mad in the studio). She brings a filet of heat and an attractive size to this lullaby a bit Mephistophelian which eats a little in the trough of Song of the Whale. Her performance on "London" is also very good. She works her voice while Franke tries desperately to make roll his sequences and percussions in the new rhythmic patterns of a Dream who looks for itself. And it's there that everything collapses. The first part of "London" is without life. We hear these structures of percussions and sequencers which will mold the aseptic rhythms of the Melrose years on a long movement which goes round in circles without never really ending in. Because if the approach remains deliciously secret, the elements which surround it are lacking of air, juice, depth and direction. Mrs Smith has to manage as she can and we can understand her anger when we hear her voice trying to make a link with the music. Furtive and invisible, the long intro of "London" cogitates beyond 9 minutes before it gives way finally in a beautiful final, too short, where the guitar of Froese roars on sequences with the ringings of glass which swirl in a too much tightened spiral.
"Alchemy of the Heart" reconciles us a little with the bucolic ambiences of the Dream. The intro is scrawled by percussions of which the resonant strikes are progressing in order to waking up Paul Haslinger's soft piano who unfolds a very beautiful melody in the furrows of a sequencer from which the minimalist crystal keys remind Mike Oldfield's universe. This surprising fusion continues up until the 3rd minute when the tempo eventually buzzes around percussions with more aggressive bangings. Like a disproportionate tick-tock challenging the bend of time, these percussions activate the passivity of the melodious approach which gets excited over chords of an agile harpsichord aged of two centuries and of a black piano. Unstable and swirling in its minimalist cocoon, "Alchemy of the Heart" coils up in a complex phase where Edgar and his buzzing riffs manages to slow it down and lead it towards some Mellotron layers sculpting violin tears which will cry until it very end. This is a good piece of music in the contemporary repertoire of TD. The musical structure of "Smile" is also very beautiful with its keys of sequencer which skip on the shoulders of others in the breezes of a mist dusted out of its drizzle. Ambient, the rhythm floats of its spheroidal structure wrapped by Jocelyn Smith's mesmerizing voice who recites a poem in a prison adorned with sequences of glass instead of bars. Rather dreamlike. "21st Century Common Man" is another beautiful track on “Tyger”, well at least for its first part which offers a heavy rhythm galloping on sequences as agile than harmonious. One would say to hear some Jarre with these percussions which click and rumble around sequencers and its agile keys and around synths with a synth-pop dimension deflowered by a heavy rhythm which little by little fades on floating strata. The 2nd part clearly smacks of the Melrose years. Too bad, the starting sounds so promising. This second life of “Tyger”, offered by Reactive/Esoteric label, offers 2 tracks in bonus. One is the 7" single version of "Tyger" and the other one is "Vigour", an electronic rock with a huge synth-pop flavor which seems to pave the way of Tangerine Dream towards the Melrose years. I don't really like it!
Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes harmonious and sometimes insipid, “Tyger” has this odor of an era which is dying of its uncertainty. Where is Franke? His sequences and percussions which always had the gift to gave new dimensions to TD music, where are they? Surfing on the crumbs of Underwater Sunlight, “Tyger” offers the worst, as the best, of Tangerine Dream's universes, without this passion which saved the day on Underwater. We feel a Franke absent who left his imprints to Froese and Haslinger. And the result is disconcerting. With hindsight we sense this transition that Edgar Froese has imposed to his group of which the legend is fading to enter in the years of Melrose, Miramar, TDI and Eastgate. It's the death, the slow agony of the Dream who knew too many jolts so that we have a shape of pity. Just a kind of disgust on the corner of the mouth. You have the original? You don't thus need this reedition from the Esotreric label, unless being a fan in search of answers which will never come. If you don't have it, that remains an honest album which follows the tangents of Underwater Sunlight. The first version of Jive is pointed out as being the best.

Sylvain Lupari (July 31st,2013)

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