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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tangerine Dream Force Majeure (1979)

Force Majeure is a must-have for progressive, psychedelic and electronic music lovers

1 Force Majeure 18:18

2 Cloudburst Flight 7:21

3 Thru Metamorphic Rocks 14:15

Virgin CDV 2111

(CD 39:54) (V.F.)

(Progressive E-Rock, Berlin School)

After the commercial and critical failure of Cyclone and the departure of Steve Joliffe, the duo Froese and Franke retreated to Berlin and composed a superb album where synthesizers and electronic music instruments got along with more conventional instruments, such as guitars and drums, to create the perfect album. With the help of Klaus Kruger on drums and Edgar Meyer on cello, Tangerine Dream produces an album that merges electronic and progressive music in surreal ambiances. An album that didn't age at all, and made Cyclone forget fast enough.

The beginning of the title-track is spooky on a very atmospheric background. Eclectic sounds and a drunken mellotron gravitate in suspension around a dark cello which nibbles its strings with a melancholy slowness. This abstract movement guides us to the pulsations of a bass sequence whose chords spawn around a hesitant piano. FORCE MAJEURE is taking off. The guitar of Edgar Froese sends its notes and solos on a psychedelic rhythm where synth and mellotron draw a symphonic musical universe. Force Majeure is aiming to be a jewel of the psychedelico-prog-electronic era of the 70's. A title that combines rhythms and ambient passages by subdividing them into several small segments. Segments that are watered of suave and melodious synth solos and its innumerable superimposed layers that are at times magical and elsewhere more soporific in an unlikely alliance that is also ideal for these phase changes and deviations to psychedelic territories of the time. At sometimes, the rhythms are violent and tempestuous while the ambiences get spectral and confusing, but Force Majeure is always full of beautiful melodic phases that appear in many forms and where we least expect it. In my opinion, this is the most complete piece of this psychedelico-electro-progressive era of the Dream. And this passage (12th minute) where subdivided chords dance and are reflected in a mephistophelic musical mirror to fall into the lair of a synth's haunting melody is simply superb.

More melodious, Cloudburst Flight starts with a beautiful acoustic guitar which drops its notes in the increasing pulsations of the sequencer. The guitar riffs awaken this sweet intro, and a synth is whistling harmonious breaths on a rhythm a little more accentuated. Slowly the rhythm evolves and embraces a more symphonic part where the synth solos twirl and get crisscross over a rhythm supported by a good movement of the sequencer. Solos of guitar and synth get intertwine with an explosive violence over a rhythm that gets very catchy. A rhythm that calms down with more serene synth solos and whistles over a breathless pace which in turn is supported by sober percussions and a delicate undulating movement of the sequencer. A solitary piano stray its notes in a synthesized mist...announcing Thru Metamorphic Rocks which plunges into the meanders of another psychedelic, electronic and progressive rock worthy of Tangerine Dream's great moments of the 70's. Beneath good orchestral arrangements, the symphonic percussion rolls with as much agility as a swirling wind in full tornado, while Edgar's guitar waters this atmospheric fair of furious and powerful solos that evaporate in a whirlwind of metallic sequences. Sequences that clash furiously in a quilted haze and in a surreal echo where scrolls a panoply of eclectic sounds and surreal voices. Another movement of the sequencer is taking shape. It pulses nervously around another sequence with heavy pulsating chords and synth solos coming from nowhere. Thru Metamorphic Rocks becomes the scene of a fascinating tumultuous passage where lines of sequences, resonant pulsations, percussions and jerky synth pads intersect their differences in a metallic madness filled with anguishing voices, spectral ululations and lamentations of all kinds. A sonic storm as huge as it's indescribable that ceases and leaves with the same tranquility that brought it to our ears. Thru Metamorphic Rocks portrays quite well FORCE MAJEURE and is one of my top 10 Tangerine Dream titles in the Virgin Years.

FORCE MAJEURE is a superb album. One of the best of Tangerine Dream and in the 70's, it was a big seller for the band and even made the Top 30 in the British charts. We hear small passages and musical lines that are familiar to us, so much it has played everywhere. This brilliant opus shows the abilities of Froese and Franke to play with both atmospheres and rhythms. The German duo is ready to innovate and mark the turn of the 80's. This is the start of a creative and prosperous period that will begin soon with the arrival of Johannes Schmoelling. But just before, there is this FORCE MAJEURE! A must for progressive, psychedelic and electronic music lovers, this is also a flagship album that has marked its decade. Just awesome!

Sylvain Lupari (September 9th, 2006) *****

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