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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: 220 Volt Live (1993)

Updated: May 8, 2022

“Boosted e-rock dynamite, 220 Volt Live is the not to be missed album of this less glorious era from Tangerine Dream”

1 Oriental Haze 6:52 2 Two Bunch Palms 5:48 3 220 Volt 9:01 4 Homeless 9:48 5 Sundance Kid 8:04 6 Backstreet Hero 8:49 7 The Blue Bridge 4:47 8 Hamlet 8:30 9 Dreamtime 3:46 10 Purple Haze 3:32 11 Treasure of Innocence 3:41 Miramar ‎| MPCD2804

(CD 72:40) (V.F.) (E-Rock!)

I wanted to, I felt unable. Unable to well choose the right words, unable to give it the letters of respectability which it deserves amply. In chronology, I had already left Edgar Froese's boat after the much disappointing Lily on the Beach. Already that Melrose had disappointed me, I finally said to myself that I had finished with Tangerine Dream. The thing is that the band turns up at La Place des Arts of Montreal in autumn 92. I went there hoping to hear the kind of concert that the trio had given some 6 years earlier at La Place des Nations. The result was another thing with some true compacted dynamite and a concert boosted of energy that was too electronic rock and not enough ambient. I was half in jest, half in earnest. As EM was very difficult to find on this side of the planet, I found purely by chance 220 VOLT LIVE in a shop of used CD and albums some years later. I bought it and put it somewhere. One evening when I was in my car, I finally put the CD in the reader and BOOM!!! I went out of breath. It's my love story with Tangerine Dream. I loved, I left. I went back to it because I had hopes and then I left again disappointed. And always, there is a thing which make me go back to it. Like with this 220 VOLT LIVE.

A series of synth lines flies away from the applauses and get entangled in a long sound wave which enters in our ears as an effect of cinema THX. Some feverish sequences shake the ambiences decorated with layers of voices whereas the percussions sculpt a good electronic rock coated by synth lines which seem go out of the metallic period of the Dream. And when the rhythm rests itself a little, but always with these still sequences in the background, Linda Spa's saxophone, which passes a little better here, and the keyboard chords throw a melodious aura very New Age of the American West coast. Oriental Haze sets the tone to an album filled with addicting sounds which suit very well to the unique reach of its title. It's not always in fire nor full of blown up rhythms, but always very catchy. Oriental Haze offers a very ambiospherical finale, something that we will eventually name musical bridges, with perfumes of Legend which float until that our sense of hearing walks on the opening of Two Bunch Palms. The sequences glitter with magnificence and a line of bass throws impulses which give a dramatic touch to the introduction of a title which will bring out the brilliant Zlatko Perica of the shadow. This is where that the contagious energy of 220 VOLT LIVE begins. The guitar is wild and spits as much riffs and solos, while structuring a melodic touch which survives very well to the still agitation of the sequences and of the electronic drum tossed in the fire by an unchained beat box. And the more the minutes pass and the more the guitar will become the cornerstone of this live album of a rare energy for an EM album. Sequences and bass pulsations play the game of the cat and the mouse with abrupt passages which have nothing to do with the pattern of sequences. Two Bunch Palms fades in one finale more melodious which opens the road to the fiery 220 Volt and its spasmodic rhythm where the sequences and the percussions bicker under good effects of synth which we heard at the opening of Oriental Haze. An energetic title without really soul, 220 Volt finds its point of interest in the middle when the rhythm is less crazy and the guitar of Zlatko Perica more present. Let's say that it's a long title which would have gained to be shorter. The same goes for Homeless, except that here the guitar saves the day by plunging the rhythm into a good slow tempo rather ethereal for the moods. After a melodiously nostalgic introduction, Sundance Kid exposes a series of sequences of which the keen oscillations weave the wave motion of a long rhythmic sheet shaken up by winds. Percussions add more weight with heavy hammerings while the layers of voices, so dear to Edgar, upholster a backdrop which gets lost more and more under the avalanche of percussions, bass percussions and sequences which tumble now at a brisk pace. This is a good rhythmic structure which evaporates in the ethereal atmospheres of a long final. Backstreet Hero takes back the road of furious rhythms which are constantly assaulted by the very incisive guitar of Zlatko Perica. The Blue Bridge follows with a beautiful approach of Jazz Bluesy with a Linda Spa less painful to endure. This is a small beautifully melodious title which invites Edgar to grab his electric six-strings for the sizzling solos of Hamlet; the key point of this album and one of the very good titles from the Tangerine Dream repertoire of the Miramar years. Here the words are missing! This is a strong and furious e-rock anthem with a lively, a very lively, rhythm and which has a soul. Dreamtime sounds like the end with a nice ballad where the synths, the guitar and the saxophone are exchanging nice harmonies which become more and more striking. Ideal to shed some tears over a love movie! Purple Haze? Nah nah, not capable! Treasure of Innocence ends this live album with a ballad of the style that we shall find in Turn of the Tides. Is it still in concert? Don't know but the magic isn't there anymore. Not bad, but not really interesting. I would have finished with Dreamtime!

I know that it can seem strange. That my credibility is on the line here considering that I always hated this period of Tangerine Dream. And believe me; I tried very hard and often to like Rockoon and Lily on the Beach, but this 220 VOLT LIVE rushed me in like a ton of bricks. Some pure dynamite with a beautiful degree of emotionalism. A thing that we shall not find on its bigger sister, Arizona' 92 which is sorely lacking this energy that we find here. What makes the difference? The mixing? The mastering? We don't care!!! It's just very good, even when it's less good.

Sylvain Lupari (September 5th, 2011) ****¼*

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