dimanche 27 mars 2016

TANGERINE DREAM: Quinoa (1992-2009)

“Not what I would describe as a stroke of genius, Quinoa stays all the same a very honest album in those years where the Dream quietly used to dismantle the links with its past”

1 Voxel Ux 12:01
2 Quinoa 28:27
3 Lhasa 9:49

Membran 232644 (CD 50:17) ***½
(Zen Music and Electronic Rock with a New Berlin School zest)
Here's an album which was very much talked about. Some fans will even say; the album of the treason! And I remember very well the reaction of two friends on this matter. But the world of the Dream being at the same time the privilege of the mercantilism and the systematic blindness of a legion of unconditional fans; the first reason for being of “Quinoa” will get lost in two reeditions which will annul forever its sentimental value. Chronologically, “Quinoa” appeared on radars in 1992 on a very obscure German label. Pressed in 1 000 copies, “Quinoa” flirted with the bar of 30 minutes was first intended for the members and the future members of the Tangerine Dream fan-club. Left copies were sold during the German tour of 1997. In the summer, 1998, TD republishes “Quinoa” on their new TDI label. This new edition included two tracks in bonus: "Voxel Ux", which originally was composed for the intention of the winner in the framework of a contest for the official TDI web site in 1996, and "Lhasa", an ambient piece of music which will be the first movement of the Tibetan cycle of the Dream. A project which was going to know its outcome with the album Seven Letters From the Tibet. And finally, “Quinoa” was going to be reborn in 2009 in another new shape with the massive republication of nearly 60 CD in digipack format from the German label Membran. This is the one I will talk about. And the music in all this?
First of all, let's speak about "Quinoa" the title-track which turns out to be a good reflection of the
Tangerine Dream stages between 80 and 90. Sober, the intro is shaken by this sound structure which personifies the entity of the Dream in the 90's; beat box, synth to the enveloping layers but with absent soul and of which the slender charms are flooded in the breaths of a very ethereal sax and those so mechanical singing exercises that are so insipid and so boring. At around the 6th minute point Froese and Co releases what that we identify as a bridge, either a musical segment in suspension which serves as passages between two modifications of a long musical structure. This 2nd part of "Quinoa" (8:40) livens up the movement with a phase more in the kind of electronic rock which will be exploited with a little more of fiery and passion on 220 Volts Live (Two Bunch Palms). This phase will be the longest on this track which goes from honeyed moments (almost ambient) to more dynamic structures. The father and son tandem shows that he can embark on long musical structures which in the end are only the shade of the big works of the former days. And nevertheless the potential is there; changing structures, heavy rhythmic patterns and nice attempts of sequenced movements a la Franke. But the whole thing remains insipid because of those strata of a synth out of emotionalism, those breaths of a sax which seem so much like samplings instead of the real (but boring) ones and those beatboxes which demonstrate Jerome's immaturity who hammers where it's not necessary and doesn't where it's needed. And nevertheless the past of the Dream catches up "Quinoa" with synths to philharmonic tones (sometimes one would believe to feel the breaths of Rubycon
) on passages fed by Franke heavy drums style. But the whole thing lands flat because we have the surprising (and tiring) impression that our ears swim between sessions of Optical Race, Melrose and Rockoon. It's not really bad, nor really well. But it's cold and by moments empty. A little as if it was made fast while with a little more time (and passion?) "Quinoa" could have easily been able to become a turning point in this edition, the father and son years, of the Dream. We grow tired of it rather easily, especially after having heard Two Bunch Palms on 220 Volts Live, but it remains an honest work from Edgar and Jerome who at the end of the day sign here a rather decent work in the repertoire of TDI's years.
After the hesitating introduction molded by the ringings of a delicate artificial piano, "Voxel Ux" dives into the electronic tumults of
Rockoon and Goblins Club with raging guitars in an approach which is all the same less rock electronic. The tempo gets more dramatic with a greater intensity of the chords which tergiversate constantly between pure and hard rhythm and the melancholy. A beautiful duality which inhales what the Dream offers since its Melrose years. I think it's nicely well done but it's also very mechanical and without really an artistic depth because all that we hear here has already passed between those Melrose years and the Tyranny of Beauty album. Except that it stays an interesting enough track at the level of the modulations and the permutations of the structures, without forgetting a bass line which is rather solid. All in all, this is a good track! "Lhasa" is a nice ambient track which will be used as springboard to Seven Letters from Tibet. A very New Age piece of music with a synth play loaded of sober layers which command a period of meditation. That's the sound of the years TDI!
Redone and redistributed by the Membran label, “Quinoa” is the album by excellence in this period of
Tangerine Dream's transition. Those of the years Edgar and Jerome Froese! I got to be honest and say that it's a nice, a fair album that we just can't compare at all to what the Dream used us too many years ago (we have to get over it) but which is clearly more musical than Rockoon and other musical perplexities of the Melrose and the Seattle years. I quite liked it, but it seems to me that with a little more emotion, and perhaps a little less laziness at the level of originality, “Quinoa” would have been clearly more incisive, more striking. Instead, we have an album which overall is sounding much more like a collage of structures already chewed on some occasions, but from which Edgar would have extracted from it the best of the roots. And sometimes, too much it's like not enough!
Sylvain Lupari (August 23rd, 2010)

gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca

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