Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation (1970)

I came to Tangerine Dream through Phaedra, borrowed from Mark Steedman at college. I think I lent him Second Annual Report in return because we were comparing our fave bands and I hadn't heard anything by his lot, whilst he similarly knew Gristle only by reputation. Phaedra impressed the hell out of me, and I could see there was some common ground shared by the two groups; although at the same time, I recall Phaedra as kind of smooth and dreamy, and while it impressed the hell out of me, it didn't impress me enough to persuade me to pay full price for a record. I picked up Phaedra, Rubycon and Stratosfear second hand, but knackered copies which skipped all over the place and I accordingly played only the once.

Anyway, consequently I wasn't really prepared for this, their first album, which is a very different affair to the airbrushed material for which they became better known. The title suggests something dreamy and relaxing but is hugely misleading. It sits somewhere between early Pink Floyd and the work of Schoenberg, and is electronic mostly in the sense of its amplification and recording. Some of side two might be described as meditative, although I'd say immersive would probably be a better word, but there's definitely an acid trip going off the rails element to this music. Aside from the guitar solos, there's a lot of atonality and a tendency for repetition rather than rhythm, suggestive of the possibility that this record really might be more ancestral to Second Annual Report than anyone realised; and while it's not really Tangerine Dream's doing, I find it difficult to listen to Electronic Meditation without imagining scenes from rustic horror movies of the early seventies, so it's potent and powerful stuff in other words.

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