TANGERINE DREAM (3)
THE MACHINERY WORKS WITH UTTER SUCCESS
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.
From 1975 to 1977, TD gathered an unprecedented success, while at the same time increasing their level of activity both in the release of new works and the organization of long international tours. "Rubycon", "Ricochet", "Stratosfear" and "Encore" marked this stage. Unlike many other avantgarde bands of the seventies that had a short, unstable life due to the discontinued work of their members, TD succeeded in maintaining their stability and working with the sufficient maturity to open their own path in the recording market and prosper.
In 1976, Franke created a huge recording studio (the premises were an old cinema theater) near which he moved, and which he equipped with sophisticated technology. This studio became, as time went by, a frequent workplace for the band. There, several albums were recorded, and most specially, movie soundtracks. Though each member already had his own studio, Franke's was used for the tasks that required the presence of all of them. In the case of the soundtracks, more constricted by time deadlines than the albums, it was convenient for them to work with more fluency. In Franke's studio the main themes were composed and the basic guidelines of the music were decided. Then, each member worked in his own studio on different scenes. Froese's, sited in his own home, was small although well supplied. Nowadays, that studio of Franke's is hired to clients, as he owns other studios for his private use.
From the albums of the period 1975-77, "Stratosfear" harvested a popular success that crossed all borders of the followers of electronic music, being widely listened to for several years in discos, television ads and radio shows
The TD tour in 1977 throughout the USA awakened as well an immense attraction among the American audience. As time went by, TD moved to this country their main headquarters, partly due to the undeniable advantages that for any artist having an international success means the fact of moving around such areas as Los Angeles or Hollywood, the world HQ of the recording and movie industry, and partly because of the excellent success their music had there. An obvious example of the latter is the soundtrack that they created for the exhibition in the USA of the movie "Legend" specially commissioned to them, instead of the official one created by prestigious composer Jerry Goldsmith.
SPARE PARTS FOR THE MACHINERY
In the eighties, TD started a new stage. After Peter Baumann parting, the short-lived contribution of Steve Jolliffe and Klaus Krieger in the band ("Cyclone"), and their temporary reduction to a duo formed by Froese and Franke ("Force Majeure"), Johannes Schmoelling joined the
team. In the first half of the eighties, the period during which Schmoelling remained with TD, the band experienced a new growth spur, reaching markets where their previous works had not arrived at. The re-releases of old albums started to appear again and again.
The movie soundtrack activity initiated in the late seventies bloomed. This is the era of spectacular car chases, strong doses of violence, and in general, situations with action and characters in extremely dangerous circumstances, all that with the vibrant sound of the music by TD. From movies like "Thief" to series like "Street Hawk", the task done by TD also begand a new trend, nowadays a very common one, of the very electronic movie soundtracks for violent action movies and thrillers. They broke with the belief that this kind of soundtracks could only function with science fiction productions(a genre that, unfortunately, has not used electronic music as often as it should have done, rather frequently choosing the most classical and anti-futuristic orchestral sorts of music).
Although among the productions with a soundtrack by TD, those of science fiction have constituted an important percentage, and there has not been any, up to now, with the commercial weight of, for instance, "Blade Runner", which allowed Vangelis, its author, to shine as a creator of futuristic atmospheres and prove to a wide audience the immense capability of evocation that electronic music can have.
During the eighties, TD became even more prolific in several areas besides that of the soundtracks. More albums, more compilations, more tours. The style, except for the soundtracks, became more compatible with the tastes of a wide sector of the audience, that is to say, it approached more and more the currents of pop, without necessarily entering the electronic fortress constituted by techno. The avalanche of new electronic artists that spawned in the eighties, and the progressive utilization of synthesizers on the part of any sort of musician to the point of defiling the meaning of the adjective "electronic" applied to a genre, caused the stylistic classification of TD in the musical panorama to lose their unique character. The boredom on the part of some sectors of the audience, especially the German, before the boom of Space Music in the seventies, as well as the competition imposed by the new geniuses of the genre, led them to stray from this and other labels, advancing throughout an amnbiguous terrain, between pop and the avantgarde. This evolution was already undeniable during the second half of the eighties.
The new formation of TD in 1986 consisted of Froese, Franke and Paul Haslinger. The stability of other members in the band apart from Froese and Franke appeared to be a cronic problem since the leaving of Baumann.
In the late eighties, TD had ascended to the general stardom realms of music. Then it was equally obvious that they had well differentiated groups of fans. Basically, two: those who love the more cosmic and avantgarde side of the band, well exploited during the seventies and part of the eighties, and those who, near to pop, find in TD a new, innovative trend in them, materialized from the mid eighties, and one that has monopolized the activity of TD in the nineties. The first sector feels deceived because of the change in the steering of the band, whereas the second, which knows next to nothing about the past of the band, enjoys their present line. An example of this dual sort of fans, that in the nineties polarized to astonishing extremes, is the anecdote that happened to Edgar one morning. At seven a.m. somebody called at his door. It was an individual carrying the LP of a soundtrack by TD. Without uttering as much as a single word, this person broke the record on his knee and left. As it seems, it was a fan who had loathed the album and felt betrayed or conned by Froese. That was his picturesque yet rotund way to express this.
(By Jorge Munnshe)
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