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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Firestarter (1984)

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

“There is something magic behind Firestarter; like TD, we don't have to see the movie to seize all of its mystery.The music says it all”

1 Crystal Voice 3:07 2 The Run 4:50 3 Testlab 4:00 4 Charly the Kid 3:51 5 Escaping Point 5:10 6 Rainbirds Move 2:31 7 Burning Force 4:17 8 Between Realities 2:53 9 Shop Territory 3:15 10 Flash Final 5:15 11 Out of the Heat 2:30 VARESE SARABANDE |  VSD 5251 (CD 41:39) (V.F.) (Berlin School Base Sequenced EM)

A little like Wavelength, FIRESTARTER didn't have a much-mediatised launch. Conceived in the anonymity, shielded from the ears of his director Mark L. Lester and without having seen the slightest piece of film, this 6th soundtrack saw the light of day very shyly and its release was made without drums nor trumpets shortly after the film hit the big screens. A first release that was going to be corrected 6 years later with a more massive production in a CD format for the American market (Varèse Sarabande) and the English one (MCA) that a vast majority says it has a better sound quality. Descending more directly from the inspirations of White Eagle and Hyperborea, and even Poland, this soundtrack remains a superb EM work that is more complete than Wavelength because of the slightly longer and more detailed structures which is built a little more on the rules of Thief or Sorcerer than the soundtrack about aliens.

It's with cymbals to tones of cicadas that FIRESTARTER offers us one of Tangerine Dream's most beautiful melodies; Crystal Voice. The rhythm is sober. Arched on fine percussions and a discreet sequencing, it bears the lyrical lines of a synth which mislay their beautiful harmonies in tones of guitar and spectral voices. The keyboard chords which sparkle here and there propose a more progressive approach which calls back that of Pink Floyd on Animals. It's a very good track with an enormous commercial potential which doesn't seem to have been exploited to its maximum. And it's not the only one in this category; Charlie the Kid, molded in the paths of Crystal Voices, Shop Territories and the very moving Out of the Heat are other wonderful melodies which throne among stronger, more electronic tracks. Like The Run with its pads and riffs of synth of which the shadows cut out curt and jerked movements, drawing a hallucinatory race in corridors papered by riffs and percussions to eclectic tones. Testlab is more atmospherical and calls back the wanderings of Horizon on Poland. Always in the range of futuristic ambiences we find Escaping Point and its curt synth riffs which hesitate on a beautiful pattern of percussions, the disturbing Between Realities which calls back some moments of The Keep and Final Flash which is molded on Escaping Point and of whom the approach of the heavy electronic percussions and the sneaky sequences will overflow until the limits of Flashpoint. And there are also tracks which balance between these two extremes such as Rainbirds Move and its beautiful melody mislaid on the oscillations of sequences and the riffs of harmonious synth and finally the powerful Burning Force with its percussions as heavy as metallic which invade the pieces of a melodious approach bewildered by so much power.

There is something magic behind FIRESTARTER! How to believe that Franke, Froese and Schmoelling didn't see a parcel of the movie and composing a music which sticks to it with so much realism? Is Stephen King's book so inspiring? We have to believe so, because we see the movie and read the book to through a music which surfs constantly between the rhythms, the ambiences and the melodies of Hyperborea. But there's no need to have read the book or to see the movie to appreciate this other beautiful opus of the Dream.

Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2006) *****

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