Electronic music pioneers Tangerine Dream perform in the grand surrounds of Albert Hall this Friday.
Founded in 1967 by the late Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream were at the vanguard of the ground-breaking Berlin School of electronic music, alongside the likes of Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching. It’s difficult now to appreciate how radical their mix of progressive rock, ambient and synth music was back then; most people really didn’t know what to make of it. Three guys sitting motionless at machines, making sounds the world had never heard before… was this even music?
Tangerine Dream’s 1974 album Phaedra changed things. It wasn’t exactly a commercial turn, but it did introduce some structure to the group’s hitherto unwieldy experimentalism, thanks to the sequencers that would come to define their sound. Combined with keyboard instruments like mellotrons, organs and various electric pianos, the group created lush and epic space-outs that would be copycatted throughout the progressive band scene of the seventies.
Catapulted by the success of this record, scooped by Virgin at the last minute, Tangerine Dream went on to release over 100 albums, from the quietly apocalyptic follow-up Rubycon to the slicker, more cinematic turn of their ’80s records, including the excellent, new-decade-ushering Tangram.
And yet it’s their film soundtracks that have brought the group to the attention of the global masses. They’ve clocked up over 60 of them, from Paul Brickman’s Risky Business to Ridley Scott’s Legend. In 2013, the group also composed the original score for Rockstar’s best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto V, while having a notable influence on more recent cultural phenomena like Stranger Things.
Tangerine Dream’s current tour, ‘From Virgin to Quantum Years’, spans their entire output, from the revolutionary ’70s period right up to acclaimed 2022 album Raum, in which they supersize their signature brand of cosmic synth music.
Of course the elephant in the room is that Tangerine Dream’s founding member, Edgar Froese, departed from the earth in 2015. Before he died, however, he gave his blessing to the group to continue working on his vision for Tangerine Dream, including providing the remaining members (Thorsten Quaeschning, Hoshiko Yamane, and Ulrich Schnauss, since replaced by Paul Frick) with concepts and ideas to take forward. Froese thus features in both spirit and sound, across everything the group does.
It’s not often you get to catch Tangerine Dream in Manchester. Don’t miss your chance to watch them in the majestic Albert Hall on Friday.