miércoles, 20 de mayo de 2009

Tangerine Dream - Alpha Centauri (1971)

The second album by Tangerine Dream marked the entrance of Chris Franke, who would remain a key member of the band for the next ensuing decade and a half, though was originally brought on board for his drumming. Alpha Centauri is sonically pretty much where it stands chronologically: right smack in-between Electronic Meditation and Zeit. It is similar to the former with its caveman-era ambience where sounds churn and grapple with one another, yet closer to the latter in terms of its greater sense of form, astral imagery, and a 'no one can hear you scream' quality entrenched firmly in the bowels of space. Also, much as in "Fauni Gena" from Atem, one is also always cognizant of the tremendous reverb that nonetheless encases the music as one listens, a component of Dieter Dierks' studio were these were recorded. Listening, you feel like you are set about in a humongous terrain with a huge glass container perched over it.

"Sunrise in the Third System" makes a stunning opening track, the music you envision might have been playing as God said 'Let there be light.' It begins with pin-pricks from Froese's guitar, like tiny sparks from a flint flying up against a vast, blackened void. From this arises a theramin-like voicing (I'm assuming it's Froese's electric guitar again) crying out and eventually a lonely, gothic organ from Schroyder. For me, "Fly and Collision of Comas Sola" is the first categorically great track to the band's name. The track begins with a howling wind-tunnel of synth, out of which gradually materializes Froese playing a solemn pattern of chords on his guitar in tandem with a softer-edged organ, as traces of flute ride above it all. The dynamics slowly build, with the synth howls peeking in from time to time, until the piece finally climaxes with Dennebourg's flute emerging more prominently, and an explosive tom-tom and cymbal freak-out from Franke. The title track is another glacial twenty-two minutes, given to dreamlike waves of organ and all manner of rising and descending, twirling, whistling, and swooping. The band paints a Guernica-sized sound portrait, one that finds its ultimate end in an ominous broadcast speaker-recitative, more gothic organ, and a sea of ghostly choral vocals.

Successfully atmospheric, but like all of the albums they made back then, not an easy listen. Of the pre-Virgin Records albums that Tangerine Dream recorded, Alpha Centauri is the one I would recommend the most. For those with their eyes to the stars.

(C) Ground And Sky.

Line-up / Musicians:

Edgar Froese, guitar, bass, organ, coffee machine;
Chris Franke, drums, percussion, lotos flute, piano harp, zither, VCS3 synth;
Steve Schroyder, hammond and farfisa organs;
with Udo Dennebourg, flute, voice;
Roland Paulick, VCS3 synth


1. Sunrise in the Third System — 4:20
2. Fly and Collision of Comas Sola — 13:23
3. Alpha Centauri — 22:04

Total time 39:52

Buy it:

- Amazon
- Rhapsody
- Last.FM
- CD Universe
- Price Minister
- 7-Digital Store

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