EDGAR FROESE: Stuntman (1979)
“This album is a turning point in history of EM by combining short and long harmonious tracks and tones of the day with tomorrow's”
1 Stuntman 4:13
2 It Would be Like Samoa 10:40
3 Detroit Snackbar Dreamer 6:26
4 Drunken Mozart in the Desert 9:53
5 A Dali-Esque Sleep Fuse 8:26
6 Scarlet Score for Mescalero 4:14
Virgin CDV 2139 (1979)
(CD 43:52) (V.F.)
(Berlin School, Progressive EM)
It was with this brilliant album that I began my discovery of the fascinating universe, and its paradoxes, of Edgar Froese. My friend Bernard had tried to bring me into this universe with Epsilon In Malaysian Pale. But no, I was not yet ready according to his statements. But I succumbed to the charms of STUNTMAN with titles like Stuntman, Drunken Mozart in the Desert and A Dali-Esque Sleep Fuse. And during the conversations about these last 2 titles, which started the B side of the lp, the ambient movement and its chthonian dependencies of Scarlet Score for Mescalero quietly made its nest. In these 24 minutes of music, I was forever stamped by the music of Edgar Froese and of his Tangerine Dream, like I was for the music of Mike Oldfield, Yes and Led Zeppelin. My cult artists and bands. The sound? It was much later and by becoming more and more interested in EM that I discovered that Edgar had worked for the first time with a digital synth, the PPG and its sound waves. It fits well in a conversation, but it shows above all this curiosity that has always pushed Edgar W. Froese towards new horizons. Like here, on STUNTMAN.
The title-track uses a zigzag-like approach of the sequencer to structure a fluid rhythm with interwoven loops. But that's not the main attraction of Stuntman. It's rather the synth on which Edgar weaves wonderful solos changing into melodies and returning on solo in a remarkable and a simply magnetizing 4 minutes of great EM. I didn't fall in love the first time with a title as complex as It Would be Like Samoa. I remind you that at the time, Stratosfear was the only one track I used to like of Tangerine Dream's repertoire and that I listened to Phaedra in the evening to fall asleep. So, my knowledge of TD was quite limited. But I have always been attracted by sounds, sound effects and especially those which had a percussive resonance. A title divided in 3 phases It Would be Like Samoa begins with distorted reverberating effects from which escape a beautiful flute whose very dreamy cooing sings on a slightly spasmodic structure of the sequencer. Percussive effects sparkling like a nest of sizzling are solidifying the rhythmic base while the harmonies of the synth chant take a more progressive tangent before returning to a chthonian structure well supported by a sequencer whose fluid flow accommodates the mythical synth airs. You will find some of the essences of this title in Drunken Mozart in the Desert. But first there is Detroit Snackbar Dreamer which begins among other things with a weak rhythmic pulsation extending its amplitude in a desertic vision. The synth is simply haunting in this title. Its high notes play with the nebulous side of its lower, chants while the sequencer gently makes its keys dancing in clouds of metallurgical dusts. We have the tendency to forget the aspect of orchestrations in STUNTMAN. And yet, they are particularly important. Here they make advance this fascinating ambient walk which could explode at any moment. But Edgar keeps that for the next title.
How wonderful is this Drunken Mozart in the Desert!? And each time that the tadam dadam tamtam is heard around 5:40, the down of my arms transforms into long blond hairs drawn to the heavens! Before, there is its opening which effectively resembles to a desertic vision. A large flying bug comes to attack this vision, bringing the moods to a hopping rhythm with organic tones in the echo of its beats. There are strange voice effects, but they fade in this elastic rhythm which accommodates the fascinating traveling staccato of the synth lines and orchestrations. The synth remains fascinating with its chant and its effects, while the two structures of rhythms weave a rich and mesmerizing background. The music is melodious, and its limping rhythm is simply delicious. These two elements arrive towards a rest area where the famous 5:41 is located. Gently, Edgar lets the synth and its violin tune sound as drunk as the rhythm that wanders with a cohesion so harmonious that we melt when these very sharp synth solos draws out from me a sigh of wonder. A classic! And all a real one! The guitar solos which accentuate their electric charms on the fluid but never coherent rhythm of A Dali-Esque Sleep Fuse are the best response to this extremely powerful title which is Drunken Mozart in the Desert. Two splendid titles back-to-back and whose finale also of A Dali-Esque Sleep Fuse is conceived into a genius mind. Scarlet Score for Mescalero ends STUNTMAN in a dark atmospheric envelope. There is no rhythm here, just twisted synth solos that sing with false but delicious false notes on a nest of sizzling and dark materials, specific to the world of Tangerine Dream. A great way to conclude an album sculpted in the avant-garde visions of Edgar Froese.
Like many albums in the universe of Tangerine Dream covers, remasters and re-remasters, STUNTMAN has had several lives. The best is the original 1979 album. We know that vinyl does not have a life of immortal quality, the first Virgin CD is a nice option. But I would draw your attention to this superb box of 4 CDs; Solo (1974-1983) - The Virgin Years. There are 5 solo albums by Edgar on Virgin in an exceptionally good remaster and a superb sound quality.
Sylvain Lupari (September 15th, 2006) *****