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TANGERINE DREAM - BIOGRAPHY - Page 2

Froese, Franke and Schroyder recorded the LP Alpha Centauri in 1971, the title of which was taken from a single star in the Alpha Centauri system, which is approximately 4.3 light-years away from Earth (and is incidentally the closest star to the sun). Apart from the three regular musicians, the following individuals also made contributions: Udo Dennebourg on flute and Roland Paulyck (their road manager at that time) on synthesizer. The latter two were, however, only guest musicians. In contrast to the debut LP (on which only three short and two long tracks appeared, two of which are only barely longer than 10 minutes), with Alpha Centauri the group started to release longer titles. The B-side consisted of the 22 minute title track only.

The music on Alpha Centauri resulted from listening to various works by the avant-garde composer Gyoergy Ligeti. It was at this time that the group’s music was described as “cosmic.” The record company used the cliché “cosmic music” from then on to describe the music of other groups on the label. This would later be one of the reasons for which a number of bands left the company and also Germany. Alpha Centauri introduced Tangerine Dream to America, France and Japan. In the pop polls of the magazine Sounds in 1971/72, Alpha Centauri was voted as the “long playing record of the year.”

Steve Schroyder left the group in 1971 due to personal problems and was replaced by Berlin citizen Peter Baumann (born on January 29, 1953), who began his musical career in 1968 as an organist with the amateur band Burning Touch. With this addition, the first stable line-up was formed. It would continue to exist for approximately six years. Edgar later mentioned that Tangerine Dream probably developed some of their strongest projects within these years. At the time, Edgar worked with Peter far more than he did with Christoph. In June 1971, the jazz pianist Friedrich Gulda invited Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd to the Ossiach World Music Festival in Austria. Here they performed the “Oscillator Planet Concert.” Of course, Pink Floyd was top of the Bill with a brilliant late night performance. In the same year, Tangerine Dream wrote their first soundtrack music for the WDR television production Vampira.

Edgar was convinced that, as long as they only used normal instruments, no real steps forward into something completely different could be made. One day he asked the other members to sell all of their normal gear and traditional equipment so as not to be tempted to use it further. After that shock, the group started from scratch with small devices like, for example, a sine-wave generator and they began to develop a new sound. They sought to explore music and sound and used these electronic devices, customising them to create a new vibe. The tone positions which they selected were more audible than a violin and deeper than a bass. But the intention was not that it sound pleasant. Up until then, no one had tried to make music with these devices. This music was not composed, but was experimental and improvised. There was, however, no foreseeable future with this music. The group defined itself as the “best paid practising band in the world.” At concerts, spectators watched them practice and experiment! While on the first two albums Tangerine Dream used conventional instruments and electronic effects, they were now using a synthesizer purchased a year earlier, which appeared intensively for the first time on the 1972 double LP Zeit. To finance the purchase of their synthesizer, they had to sell the majority of their instruments.

In addition to Edgar, Christopher and Peter Florian Fricke (of the band Popol Vuh) on synthesizer, Steve Schroyder participated on the organ in addition to four guest musicians playing Cello. The longer tracks which characterized Alpha Centauri continued on Zeit. The double LP consisted of a largo in four movements. On each side of the LP there was a track between 18 and 20 minutes in length. The German newspaper Die Zeit reviewed the record at that time as “meaningless endless cosmic patterns,” while the fans voted Zeit as the “long playing recording of the year” in the pop poll of the magazine Sounds.

In October 1972 Tangerine Dream broke a record by playing the shortest concert of their career. It lasted only 15 minutes. Froese, Franke, Baumann were hired to perform as the opening act for a conventional Rock group in Bayreuth (known for its Richard Wagner festivals). They had just begun experimenting with “self-built electronic toys,” instead of playing with their normal instruments - guitar, bass, and drums. Shortly after they began their performance, cans of juice, apples and other things were hurled onto the stage. After approximately 15 minutes, the noise from the audience was louder than Tangerine Dream's music. The group was thereupon forced to leave the stage. The promoter was unwilling to pay them even for the gas for the trip from Berlin and called the police. In contrast, another concert performed with Ashra Tempel and Klaus Schulze, which took place on February 15, 1973, in the Theatre Parisien l'Ouest in Paris represented a high point in the group’s history. Their success was tremendous. 500 visitors had to be sent home as the show was completely sold out.

Due to the overcrowded hall, the fire brigade tried to stop the Tangerine Dream concert which began the event, according to Sounds, “with a fantastic-sounding picture world, with sounds that flow along gently, interspersed here and there with atmospheric disturbances such as simulated thunderstorm and rain.” They decided to continue the festival nevertheless - until one idiot from the audience threw a large plastic bag filled with marmalade onto Edgar’s equipment. He hit his mark perfectly and a large part of the equipment was destroyed by the marmalade which oozed over knobs, faders and keys.

The group’s 4th LP Atem, recorded as a trio, was released in 1973. New musical experiences were created on this record, on which a quadraphonic recording technique was used to enable a great diversity of possible instrumental sounds. While the German press did not react favourably to this record, wider acceptance was found in Britain. This was due, above all, to English DJ John Peel (a living legend at that time in the radio world), who made the album Record of the Year on his BBC playlist. This caught the attention of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records. Due to differences with their Berlin based label which had to be settled in court, and due to the fact that they received more attention abroad than in Germany (the proverb of the prophet who is disregarded in his own country fits perfectly) they signed a recording contract with Virgin in December 1973.

Furthermore, in 1996 Rolling Stone wrote: “Mick Jagger had to sell a devilish thing which brought him no satisfaction: a Moog Synthesizer.” “Peter Meisel, whom we took to court, bought this monster from the Stones’ management at the Midem in Cannes,” said Edgar Froese, “a heap of cables and scrap iron. No one knew how to use the thing. When the first sounds emerged, we went crazy. Meisel, who knew about the interest TD had in electronics, asked us: “Can we produce hits with this thing?” and we said: “No, you better sell it to us. Thus we got hold of our first Moog, which we paid for with the advance we got from Branson for the recording of the first TD Virgin release.” About those times Edgar said in Musik Express: “When we bought this first synth, we first of all had to learn how to decode the technical terms, there was no instruction manual, nothing at all.”
The first release on the Virgin label was Phaedra in 1974. The LP title was taken from Greek mythology.

Some theatrical performances about the tragic love story concerning the daughter of Minos and the sister of Ariadne developed in the course of time. The album made its way onto the British Top 10 due in part to the excellent PR work of the label. On it, the synthesizer, contrary to the previous releases, comes more to the fore.


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