TANGERINE DREAM (1)
THE BUILDERS OF THE MACHINE
No doubt, Tangerine Dream is a legendary band within the electronic genre and the musical avantgarde in general. Throughout their long trajectory, they have explored unknown areas in the music world, and have contributed to create the basis for a wide variety of current trends.
Tangerine Dream could be described as a gigantic machinery, a cyclopean engine, a factory of electronic sensations, cosmic emotions, and futuristic
feelings. Already started a quarter of a century ago, this machinery has experienced various phases in its functioning, numerous changes in the staff controlling it, and all sorts of avatars.
The peculiar style of TD has shaped the label "Tangerine Dream Sound", which defines their innovative approach to musical creativity. On the other hand, either within this main stylistic path, or getting away from it, as has happened lately, the band has encompassed an important variety of orientations, thus reaching different kinds of fans, from the followers of the most cosmic trends, to those who enjoy the most disco paths, to the lovers of experimental ways, the sinister, the heavy or relaxation.
The style by TD in most of their approaches does not get out of fashion as it almost always develops either outside current trends or far forward. A good number of their older musical ideas continues to be avantgarde even after many years.
Among the various members of Tangerine Dream, two names, both of them German, are the most remarkable ones due to the scope of their contribution: Edgar Froese, the current only founding member, and Christopher Franke, seventeen years in the band.
Froese, born in 1944, started his way into the music scene during his time as a student of painting and sculpture at the Academy of the Arts in West Berlin. During those years (1965 to 1969), he led the rock band The Ones and was involved in other activities.
His interest in paintings led him to visit Salvador Dalí on the summer of 1966. Fascinated by the work of this genius of surrealism, his stay in Cadaqués together with him caused him to consider new artistic paths. Most concretely, he caressed the idea of trying to make with music something similar to what Dalí was doing with painting.
After having released a single, The Ones disbanded. Among other things, the artistic ideas Edgar had were no longer fitting those of the other members of the band, since he wholly favored the experimental trends. In 1967, after a stay in Paris, he founded a new band called Minus Plus, which months later would become Tangerine Dream.
Christoph (Christopher) Franke, born in 1953, grew up in an eminently musical environment. With a mother who was a violin teacher and a father plus an elder sister who could play other instruments, the musical influence he received caused him to become interested in studying the violin at age six. This lasted for about a couple of years, at the end of which he chose the trumpet, a more aggressive instrument. He received lessons in the trumpet for a long time. Nevertheless, his teacher was old-fashioned, followed the orthodox paths of the classical styles as a sacred way, and his vision of how a musician was supposed to be was that of a perfectly integrated piece of machinery into the mechanism of an orchestra. The views of his professor caused the fifteen-year-old Christopher to become aggressively rebellious, which led him to desperately seek new musical paths, and try to break all the standard rules and constraints. This was transmitted as well to moral and political issues, an attitude typical of several youngsters of the times, immersed in the effeverscence of rock as a new musical style as well as a special lifestyle. By then, Franke founded the band Agitation Free, whose name already shows in an explicit way the controversial, defying path of the project. Together with Lutz Ulbritz (who later would become a member of Ashra Tempel) and others, he played in a provocative style, quite close to punk. At the same time, given the relationship with his parents, he played classical music.Both opposed views would cause him to develop an avantgarde fusion of concepts.
The rehearsals of Agitation Free were performed in the cellar of Franke's parents in the beginning. But the amount of noise they caused and the aggressive, irritating style of their music caused his mother to find them a studio only for them at a local academy of music. There, one of the managers became interested in their experimental work and gave them the chance to use the first electronic devices the academy had purchased. This was the first contact of Christopher's with the young electronic universe. Technically assisted by their patron, Franke and his friends in Agitation Free developed new ideas in the growing electronic studio of the academy.
It didn't take long for the avantgarde environments in Berlin to get wind of the magnificient potential the studio could offer to the most innovative musical ideas. Franke supported the academy in opening the doors of their studio to other young artists. Edgar Froese, Manuel Gotttsching and more musicians from Berlin began then to go there.
It was there where Edgar and Christopher met. Both coincided in their desire to explore new musical horizons, beyond those of rock. Also, both suffered from problems with their respective bands. One of the members of Agitation Free became a drug addict. The project of Tangerine Dream couldn't reach the goals Froese expected, with a chaotic coming and going of members. The relationship between both musicians became tighter. For instance, Agitation Free organized some concerts where not only they performed, but also contracted Froese and his embryo of Tangerine Dream for a performance. Likewise, AF took care of all the details related to the preparation and advertising of this concert by TD. After that, and the desertion of all the members of TD soon after the release of a first experimental rock album ("Electronic Meditation") under the signature of TD, Edgar and Christopher joined their efforts to give the definitive impulse to their innovative musical concepts.
Meanwhile, Klaus Schulze, who had collaborated in the percussion in this first LP by TD, then leaving the band, founded Ashra Tempel with Manuel Gotttsching and Hartmut Enke. Klaus would soon abandon this new band to start a prolific solo career. Conrad Schnitzler, who had oscillated between the bands TD and Cluster, definitely left TD after recording "Electronic Meditation", and soon after he began a charismatic solo career.
The new Tangerine Dream was consolidated around Froese and Franke, in a collaboration that would last for two decades. The new, more electronic approach was marked by the synthesizer Christopher purchased in England, a VCS 3 of the British firm EMS, one of the pioneers in selling to the market the first manufactured synthesizers.Due to the fact that Franke's money was not enough for more, he had to smuggle the instrument to Germany; otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to pay for the expensive custom duty taxes.
Franke had at last the device he needed to shape his musical ideas. When he showed the potential of the synthesizer to Froese, he also was convinced that it was the instrument which was most convenient to their artistic approaches, and was thus used for the new compositions by TD.
(By Jorge Munnshe)
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