1 Shadow and Sun 7:54
2 Madagaskunia 6:51
3 Madagasmala 7:04
4 Beyond Uluru 7:49
5 Vision of the Blue Birds 8:39
6 Snake Men's Dance at Dawn 5:51
7 Power of the Rainbow Serpent 8:03
Eastgate | 071 CD (CD/DDL 52:14) ****
Here is the first and the last album, although it is listed as being a Cup-Discs, of the latest version of Edgar Froese's big project; Quantum Years. And as much unjust as it can appear in the eyes of the first fans and of those who worshipped the sonic vessel of the 80's, this delicious reorientation of Tangerine Dream, always according to the words of Edgar who specified that the group would get back to its basics with purely electronic equipments, would give only a slight overview of all its potential. Because the potential was well and truly there. This “Mala Kunia” shows it amply. Exit the percussions without souls and the saxophone without fate, place to the electronics! Exit the guitar, except for its riffs! And exit the violins! Even if listed, one hear them hardly here. Place to EM! And especially, let's make room to Ulrich Schnauss whose fame is not overrated and whose collaboration with Froese/Quaeschning reminds me vaguely this wind of freshness that the arrival of Schmoelling breathed into Franke and Froese at the turning of the 80's.
A dark, lively and stirring rhythm emerges from the synth waves which dance slightly and glitter deeply like the reflections of auroras borealis caress the opening of "Shadow and Sun". We sense here a duel between these rhythms stamping with uncertainty of the Dream from the Eastgate years and the more harmonious rhythmic approach of Ulrich Schnauss who cosigns this track, as well as "Madagasmala", with Edgar. Smothered in its heavy structure, "Shadow and Sun" sways between a heavy electronic rock a la TD sauce, cooked with voice pads and hard riffs, and these electronic harmonious structures of Schnauss which are decorated with ringings and with fragments of melody a la sauce Jérôme Froese. Is there a red flag rising somewhere? The rhythmic signature converges with this thick cloud of small sequenced steps which skip and fidget as a concert of ducks' steps stirring fervently under agitated waters. This is good EM, even solid, which actually let glimpse beautiful possibilities, I prefer the more cheerful and more harmonious approach of "Madagasmala", but which also seems to look for itself in this new direction that Edgar wants to breathe into his Dream. A direction which is very visible with the very good "Madagaskunia" where everything, but everything, returns us in the Stuntman and the Pinnacles years, but with a wonderful contemporary envelope. It's signed Edgar and this is magnificently good. "Beyond Uluru" wears the Eastgate years with a hopping rhythm of which the quavering forges a discreet but an effective stroboscopic structure. The sound effects are dominant while the somber harmonies meet this touch of gloom which characterizes Edgar's last works. It's good, but there are no effects of intensity. Everything is linear in this Cup-Discs, set apart the compositions of the Froese/Schnauss tandem which seem to have more arcs and more rhythmic depth. "Vision of the Blue Birds" will have on us the same impression we had on "Madagaskunia". It's a good piece of music where the Edgar's old flavors throne as this effect of essentiality which torments the fans from the very beginning of his sound ship. We shall never know the suite, although the whole album is promised for the beginning of 2016 with the teamwork of Peter Baumann (sic!), but the windows of the Froese kingdom were wide open here. And even if "Snake Men's Dance at Dawn" does kind of an electronic Western filled with pastiches of the Eastgate years, we like! It's good Edgar who makes whistle his synth such as the harmonies whistled by a relaxed cowboy. Written by Thorsten Quaeschning, "Power of the Rainbow Serpent" offers a superb increasing tangent with a thick cloud of sequenced keys which deeply flicker in the sound caresses of beautiful arrangements. These violins weave ethereal harmonies on a structure of half ambient rhythm, almost a cinematographic down-tempo, which leaves its imprints on our feelings with good smothered pulsations of which the resonances flirts with a beautiful meshing of sequences and percussions. It's some very good Thorsten Quaeschning who, at times, sounds so much like Edgar.
We make a big fuzz around the arrival of Ulrich Schnauss. And with good reason! The sound of Tangerine Dream changes literally with "Shadow and Sun" and "Madagasmala". Except that the jewels of this “Mala Kunia” are well and truly the compositions of Edgar who is more seducing here than ever. But this Cup-Discs, also has this big default of the last works of Edgar's legendary band; it's too linear. There is no explosion in the rhythms, nor in the emotions, set apart Quaeschning's track. Taken individually and played track by track here and there, the music sounds very good. It's when we listen to “Mala Kunia” in its entirely that we realize its deep lack. But yes, I think that great things were to be expected here. Except that we shall never know it! Edgar left too soon, too fast. I hope sincerely that “Mala Kunia” will find its conclusion. Regarding now the shape of things to come, I do trust that Eastgate will have the decency to respect the memory of its main reason for existing and that Tangerine Dream will go joining Edgar in his new cosmic address.
Sylvain Lupari (September 1st, 2015)