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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Green Desert (73-86)

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

“Whatever when it was conceived, Green Desert can flies on the best decades of EM; the 70's and the 80's”

1 Green Desert 9:31

2 White Clouds 5:03

3 Astral Voyager 7:05

4 Indian Summer 6:50

Jive Electro | C TANG 1

(CD 38:29) (VF)

(Berlin School)

What stories and anecdotes around GREEN DESERT's release in 1986! Something to feed those long debates around Tangerine Dream's history and legends. According to nebulous bites of stories, this album was due to come instead of Phaedra in 1973. Moreover, the recordings would have been made in August 1973. For some obscure reasons, some speak about the musical contexts whereas Virgin would have wished a more commercial sonority than Ohr Music space rock of 70's, the recordings would have been lost and it was Phaedra that came out instead. More than 12 years later, these recordings reappear on Zomba Music. And even there, fans and music historians are skeptics concerning GREEN DESERT's origins. Pure and die-hard fans are outraged because Edgar Froese couldn't prevent from adding synth lines and overdubs on the original tracks, with instruments that didn't even exist in 73, before the final appearance of GREEN DESERT in 1986, creating even more confusion around it and of its origines. Ah yes… The music! Well it's simply quite sublime in the full spirit of TD's first albums.

Itself the title-track passes through all musical currents of this gorgeous area; long ambient intro on a floating synth pad on which is grafted a wandering line of reverberation. Elements of Klaus Schulze, that put the music in its age context, are roaming along this intro. It's spacey and floating. The music evolves around sound effects of that era. A subtle bass line is pulsing, announcing the coming of percussions, played by Chris Franke and yes, he was good at it. Then comes Edgar's space blues guitar. The rhythm is evasive and covers the limits of floating space rock with a hint of psychedelism of that time. Synth layers of woolen and electronic noises of the 70's are covering this slow procession. Space-rock is gone! At the edge of 9 minutes, Chris Franke's drumming gets intense and Edgar on guitar stays always spacey. But the beat is getting on, and the reverberation lines, as well as those chthonian choruses and synth layers of misty blue add more depth to the music. Chris Franke in full shape brings the music in this Body Love territory with a muddled up rhythmic structure while Edgar Froese remains stoical. Green Desert is indeed a great track which corresponds without a doubt to the origin of Tangerine Dream and EM in general. I would say Klaus Schulze's Body Love, because of the drumming and the electronic shouts, Ricochet and Sorcerer.

Speaking of Sorcerer, White Clouds has a lot of its appearances. Analog silvery breezes synth tones and a superb rolling of drums cover a very beautiful melody whistled by the synth. Lot of reverb effects too on this dynamic space rock. Short and sweet! Astral Voyager (the main point regarding the debate around GREEN DESERT) is a formidable piece of music built on an ultra nervous sequencer which rolls at high speed. The kind of sequences that we weren't used to hear at this era and which sound like some tracks on Peter Baumann's Trans-Harmonic Nights. From what I heard, it was at this time that Franke and Froese locked themselves in studio to produce a multitude of newborns sound which later will be the musical seal of this experimental fever. So, a beat roundly juicy on a solid sequencing pattern scented by nice layers of a synth with Mellotron essence of Froese' solo works (Pinnacles). An excellent track! Indian Summer is an ambient passage where notes fall with intensity in a calm sea of sounds, lulled by a soft dreamy synth. The kind of music that made the delight of floating music fans from the 70’s and of which you can feel the imprints on Wavelength.

Was GREEN DESERT really written and produced in 73? May I have my doubts? But I think so, for a large part of it. Like the title-track and the floating Indian Summer. I'm guessing that some music might have been recorded when Peter Baumann wasn't there, which happens quite a lot in those years, thus the excellent sequencing pattern in White Clouds that must needed and asked a lot of time to built. I'll place those recordings in the post Stratosfear era. But anyway, the main thing is it remains an excellent CD. One of the best to came out in the 80's with a sound vision of the 70's. A must, only to understand the enchantment that surrounded this strange duet that was Franke and Froese. Boy they were good!

Sylvain Lupari (July 4th, 2005) *****

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