“There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address”. These are the words of Edgar Froese who died suddenly last Tuesday as a result of a pulmonary embolism, he was 70 years old.
Froese was the founder of the hugely influential Tangerine Dream along with Conrad Schnitzler and Klaus Schulze. Both of them left after the first album, Schulze to establish himself as an electronic composer in his own right and Schnitzler to join Kluster and later follow his own Avant-Garde Electronic experimentation. Schnitzler died of stomach cancer in 2011.
Tangerine Dream became associated with Kraut Rock, Electronic Music, Ambient Music, New Age and a myriad of film scores. Non of the tags quite fitted as the band blazed their own trail, cementing the line up in the seventies with Froese, Peter Baumann and Christopher Franke on the second album Zeit released in 1972. Their fourth album and final album for Ohr Records, Atem was released in 1973 and was John Peels’ Album Of The Year, despite this Ohr dropped them and it was at this point that they were signed by Virgin records in England, releasing their UK label debut in 1974 and reaching a surprising No.15 in the British charts. Since then, their influence on contemporary Electronic Music is hard to quantify but Edgar Froese and his band were certainly one of the first to popularise the genre however you wish to label it.
I don’t remember exactly when I got this record but I do remember having it in the mid seventies. If you were a fan of CAN, Neu, Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel you were a fan of Tangerine Dream despite the differences between them. They were all part of the German underground scene at that time and any record on Spoon, Ohr or Brain was immediately of interest. With Virgin signing Tangerine Dream (and other arty British bands) those of us that liked Progressive Rock were made aware of and followed a more experimental avenue with the groups in this fascinating mind expanding German revolution that also included Amon Düül, Amon Düül ll, Kraftwerk and Faust.
It was the opposite of Glam but somehow a connection was made via Roxy Music’s Eno who found a home in this bed of German innovation that later involved David Bowie on Low and Heroes thus connecting King Crimson’s Robert Fripp (playing the guitar on Heores) and making two experimental albums with Eno. Fripp found a link between Jazzy progressive Rock and treated guitar on his early solo albums that sat comfortably next to music for the German scene from the mid to late seventies.
Tangerine Dream made over 100 albums with Edgar Froese at the helm but Froese also made solo albums starting with Aqua in 1974. (Panorphelia from Aqua might be a companion track to Side 2 of Low). What distinguished the solo albums from Tangerine Dream albums in this period was that Baumann and Franke were not involved. Otherwise they follow the same path as the band with something of Pink Floyd’s moods, albeit mostly without guitar vocals and drums, so perhaps a better description might be as if Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright had made a record in experimental mode. NGC 891 from Aqua shares a place in the world with On The Run from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.
Baumann left Tangerine Dream in 1977 after Encore recorded on the band’s US tour. At this point many musicians joined and left. Effectively Johannes Schmoelling replaced Baumann and was part of the Tangerine Dream albums from 1980-1985. Next came Paul Haslinger 1985-1990 before Froese’s son Jerome became a full time member from 1990-2006. I once met Jerome in a bar in Berlin and much to my surprise he was as aware of my musical legacy as I was of Tangerine Dream’s.
I loved all the pictures of Froese in the seventies with the patch bays, the wires everywhere, the multiple keyboard set-ups and how this complicated looking equipment could generate soundscapes that played themselves as the humans manipulated frequency modulators and sequencer patterns. You’ve never had so much fun as a musician sitting down with your back to the audience, knowing the sold out theatre is full of contented mind adjusted mood junkies with their eyes closed for as long as the machines had electricity.
Rest In Peace Edgar we miss you, we thank you and we love you for the mind massage that relaxed us, inspired us and took us to other world’s, other galaxies, other dimensions and all we had to do was just sit there.
I reviewed Phaedra for the In Deep Website on the In Deep site almost exactly a year ago:
Here are the links to the In Deep Music Archive posts:
Link to Edgar Froese obituary in the Guardian:
You can read about the beginnings of Tangerine Dream and the chronology of their album releases here:
Tangerine Dream website:
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