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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: LiveMiles (1988/2012)

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

In the end, LiveMiles is a solid album, no matter its controversy

1 Livemiles I 29:52

(The Albuquerque Concert)

a Green Trail Part 

b Section II

c Section III

d San Buena Ventura

2 Livemiles II 27:13

(The West-Berlin Concert)

a Caspian Sea 

b Velvet Autumn

c Dolphin Dance

Jive/BMG CHIP 62 (1988)

Reactive EREACD 1024 (2012)

(CD 57:05) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

LIVE MILES is the last album of Tangerine Dream's short association with Jive. A period called Blue Years. It's also the last album of the Chris Franke's era, who left the band on August 1st, 1987. In fact, and not because it's a bad album, on the contrary, LIVE MILES is the swan song of Tangerine Dream and the first one of an illogical suite of deceits and swindles which will serve to fill the big woolen pockets of TD's management or the financial dinosaurs which roam behind its ghosts. This is a dark side in the story of the band which I hope will burst out one day. Because the fans have the right to know what has really happen in this time, and afterward. Just like for LIVE MILES, they have right to know, to say the least to understand, from where origin this idea to make in studio false live albums like this one, or Soundmill Navigator and The Perth Tapes from the I-Box set. Let's put ourselves in the context. In that time there was no internet, nor social networks and the concerts of the Dream almost went unnoticed in the local newspapers. Thus, the fan who bought himself LIVE MILES in that time didn't know that it was about a pure and simple hoax. That it was a false live album, where Edgar Froese has Tangentized the structures while bringing to it bits of rhythms never played in concert. The result is not that bad, on the contrary. I think that it's a very good album. It's just not a real live album. But does it really matters? LIVE MILES is supposed to reproduce two long extracts of concerts that Tangerine Dream performed in Albuquerque on June 8th, 86 and in Berlin at the West der Republik on August 1st, 1987. Now that we know that's not really true, let's jump in it.

Livemiles I (The Albuquerque Concert) is consisted of 4 segments; Green Trail Part, Section 2, Section 3 and San Buena Ventura. Three days later, Tangerine Dream gave a concert in Denver with a completely different setlist and especially a music quite as different. While the concerts of the North American tour began with Pilots of Purple Twilight and Stratosfear, in fact the setlist turns around Le Parc and Underwater Sunlight albums, Livemiles I plunges us rather into the ambiences of Tyger and the London track as well as the electronic rock hymns à la Optical Race, 2 albums which will go out in 1987 and 1988. An oblong mellotron veil à la Genesis' Watcher of the Skies comes down slowly to evaporate in the chords of a heavy and hesitating rhythm. Some notes fall with heaviness, accompanied with a hesitating flute on a tempo which has difficulty to set itself in motion. We hear perfumes of Optical Race there, but much more of Tyger with a sort of remixed version of London. A London that we recognize vaguely with an uncertain, furtive rhythm which goes round in circles on percussions of a Tablas style. It's a meshing of percussions and hectic sequences which peck the uncertainty of a rhythm which drinks of superb fluty passages. The rhythm takes off at around the 6th minute with sequences supported by electronic percussions, plunging Green Trail Part into a good electronic rock with a synth to vocals charms. Edgar did a remarkable job because we have difficulty in recognizing the lines of Tyger which go astray in lost sessions of Optical Race. He plays with rhythms and ambiences, outlining some great melodious passages which catch the ear. Dramatic passages where he tortures his electric guitar, like in Underwater Sunlight, but also in a slow version of London Part II (Rotten Row Patriot). It's rather poignant. And I have to make amendment; there is a lot of soul and passion behind Livemiles I in particular with Section 2. Section 3 plunges us into a furious electronic rock with a good sequencing pattern. The rhythm is heavy. Arched on an ascending structure, it's filled by these synth pads with bright contours which became the trademark of a more metallic Tangerine Dream. San Buena Ventura ends this mini-concert in studio with a revamped version of Song of the Whale Part 2, unless it's a leftover from Legend? Bets are opened. But that remains good!

If we have guessed right from the tips of our ears and from the bottom of our knowledge the setlist of Livemiles I, the exercise will be as much difficult with Livemiles II, the concert at the West der Republik. There, we have the true setlist of this memorable concert and that doesn't look at all to what is going to happen on LIVE MILES. The introduction, Caspian Sea, is of silk and is faithful to the first 8 minutes of the concert, with a beautiful mixing and some good overdubs. This is a great unreleased track. It's a beautiful morphic ballad which swirls like an oniric lullaby in a foggy synth which sings of a discreet synthesized voice. The guitar comes to cry with good laments and adorn a kind of crescendo filled by a dramatic adrenalin. I love that! While we are supposed to hear Dolphin Smile, we are entitled to another unknown track. And the whole thing is very well linked, like a real concert. So, Velvet Autumn offers a marathon structure. It's a kind of rhythmic running where the sequences and percussions are structuring a sustained rhythm which serves the cause to soft fluty harmonies and keyboards riffs. I don't know... I kind of hearing things that remind me of Marakesh from Optical Race. We quickly went around. It's a little bit too long track which is in the time of Underwater Sunlight. Livemiles II ends with a very anemic version of Dolphin Dance. Here Edgar has Tangentized too much the product, making it insipid.

Well, here we are! Only the crazy ones won't change their idea. After having heard closely, and having searched through the Net, I got to say that this LIVE MILES is a solid mixed album, even Voices in the Net qualifies it as a studio/live album, where the arrangements of Edgar and the extracts of the two concerned concerts give us good moments of listening. Except that I am always a little bit shocked by Edgar's attitude which tends to take the worship of his fans as a way of filling his deep pockets. But this is another debate that I won't start! It's not to me to do so. I prefer the Albuquerque section which, needs to admit it is a very good remix of London. Is this version of Esoteric better? I heard it is, but I don't hear such a difference here, except that the sound is more powerful. And in the end, it's a beautiful album, no matter its controversy.

Sylvain Lupari (March 13th, 2013) ***½**

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