martes, 12 de mayo de 2009

Tangerine Dream - Zeit (1972)

Tangerine Dream's third release was the first to feature their 'classic' line-up: Edgar Froese, Chris Franke, and Peter Baumann. Like Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings and Soft Machine's Third, this is another album that beat Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans to the punch as a double-album with one composition per side. Also turning up here of note: transitional alumnus and Baumann predecessor Steve Schroyder on organ, Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke making a rare contribution on Moog (before turning his back on electric synthesizers), and the addition of a cello quartet. One of the cello players, as an aside, was Joachen von Grumbcow of Hölderlin, who released quite a different album that year, the folky Hölderlins Traum.

The monolithic album cover of a massive satellite really goes well in conveying what you will hear. Subtitled "Largo in Four Movements", Zeit is music recorded on Jupiter: weighted-down notes unable to break free from the pull of gravity, painted in the broadest, barely shifting, legato strokes. The song titles belie qualities very present in the music. "Origin", "Dawn", and "Birth" convey a sense of the primordial and before-ness. "Nebulous", "Supernatural", and "Plejades" (the wintertime star cluster that appears with greater clarity out of the corner of one's eye than with direct contact) reinforce a feeling of astral wonder.

This is one album that pretty much defies verbal description, but here goes anyway, with a brief summary of the four tracks. "Birth of Liquid Plejades" opens with sliding, skin-crawl drones played by the cello quartet. This sound is slowly processed and contorted, until fading into the band proper, who seize the baton with static organ maintaining the droning key of the cellos and a burbly, erratic synthesizer that sounds almost like it is malfunctioning. The piece makes its way into a final scenario of Hammond pulses combined with gently contorting sound tunnels.

"Nebulous Dawn" is a tormented, incredibly eerie track. It starts off with elongated pulsings of buzzing, low synth and canyons of deep reverberations that really push the lower limits of your stereo system, before moving onwards. Take the furthest distance in space you can imagine in your mind, and then add on a couple billion lights years more past that, and that is where this music takes you—a territory completely removed from, and possibly hostile to, the human element.

"Origin of Supernatural Probabilities" deceptively begins with a more calming mood than its immediate predecessor, with the gentle strums of Froese's guitar almost like bristlings of a harp with low, dulled strings. However, it doesn't take too long before the humongous boom of pulsing space enters, alien bird-synths twitter and dive, and the feel is one of the universe shuddering in unease.

The title track is the baby of the bunch at... um, a mere 17 minutes in length. Gentle voids of spectral sound. Space sits at rest after the engulfment and large-scale quaking of the preceding tracks, but remaining no less awesome and mysterious in scope, with an ndifferent gaze towards 'all things that delight or trouble foolish men.'

There are plenty of folks who can't take this album. In all fairness, it is an extremely difficult one to just sit there and actively listen to, doing nothing else. If you are looking for Tangerine Dream's most impenetrable work, indeed one of the most impenetrable ever recorded by a 'rock band,' then look no further. Still, love it or hate it, Zeit is an impressively unique work that does have its own aesthetic, a logic of conveying inertia through sound.


Edgar Froese, guitar, generators;
Chris Franke, VCS3 synth, cymbals, keyboards;
Peter Baumann, VCS3 synth, organ, vibraphone;

with Florian Fricke, moog;
Steve Schroyder, organ;
Christian Vallbracht, cello;
Jochen von Grumbcow, cello;
Hans Joachim Bruene, cello;
Johannes Luecke, cello


1. Birth of Liquid Plejades — 19:50
2. Nebulous Dawn — 17:52
3. Origin of Supernatural Probabilities — 19:32
4. Zeit — 16:58

Total time: 74:25

Buy it from:

- Amazon USA
- Amazon UK
- CD Universe
- 7-Digital UK

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