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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Pergamon (1986)

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Pergamon is yet another another classic and one of the last vestiges of the most interesting trio in the story of EM has known

1 Quichotte Part One 23:33

2 Quichotte Part Two 22:38

Reactive/Esoteric | EREACD 1026 (CD 46:11) (V.F.)

(New Berlin School)

PERGAMON is the typical story of how the rarities and bootlegs coming from Tangerine Dream's performances were selling at high prices on the secondary circuits of the bootleggers of that time and later on eBay. Pulled out of two memorable concerts performed in East Germany on January 31st, 1980, PERGAMON hits the official market 6 years after the release of Tangram. Both albums introduced TD's new member; Johannes Schmoelling. These two concerts were the sources of famous bootlegs such as White Clothes, Staatsgrenze West and Don Quixote. When the evening concert was broadcasted 1 month later on a local radio station, there was an outbreak of pirate recordings available on 4-tracks cassettes and home tapes which have circulated all over Europe. It's in this stride that appeared Quichotte; a first official album available only in East Germany on the Amiga label in June of 1980. Some 6 years later Virgin got the rights and distributed Quichotte internationally under the name of PERGAMON. And 25 years later, after several bootlegs and a superb recording of the whole event made available in the circle of TD fans via the Tangerine Tree project, Vol. 17. PERGAMON is then reissued with a new and quite good remastering edition by the Esoteric label which, for lack of bringing something new, offers a more colorful artwork and a beautiful booklet of 16 pages with several beautiful photos. Was it necessary? Humpfff! The music! Ah yes, I was forgetting! PERGAMON is a wonderful album which offers two very good extracts of a famous concert with two long unedited tracks filled by Tangram fragrances.

The notes of a dramatic piano beat down with sparkle, wrapping of an ease a timid Johannes Schmoelling who unfolds the delicate harmonies of an introduction which will pursue him throughout its career. The piano is melodious and its notes are dancing in a harmonious chassé-croisé, allying acoustic rhythm and musing by embracing at the passage the tinkles which are more perceptible on this republication. The piano is melting into the rippling lines of an ethereal synth, evaporating its melody in bluish strata which float on a line bass and its furtive steps. The synth calls back the atmospheres of Edgar Froese's solo works with its nasal tones. And quietly, and in the fact that we can presume to be a passage of contained improvisation, the line of bass, the sequences and lines of synth are waltzing in a harmonious incoherence which directs Quichotte Part One towards a rhythmic phase which gallops with fury on heavy keys of a bass-sequencer. These sequences hiccup of their dislocated impulses, shaping a heavy and spasmodic rhythm which drowns itself in synths solos among which the mists and vaporous harmonies dance, spin and sing on a heavy structure which can only diminish its aggressive and belligerent tempo. This is purely compressed dynamite!

After a misty atmospheric departure where lines of synth caw in a colorful electronic fauna, which is sounding so much like an interstellar void, Quichotte Part Two comes to life with agile sequences which alternate their keys on the muffled pulsations of a line of bass. Some evasive solos waving as iridescent spectres cover this embryonic rhythm which is ardently pounded by a ceaseless linear movement. And the melody settles down with keyboard chords which are drop down with candour, forging the basis of a heavy electronic progressive rock which grows louder with the rollings of electronic percussions. And our friend Edgar is going to torture Quichotte Part Two of wonderful solos of his burning six-strings as vicious than hallucinating. Solos which are a piece of anthology in the universe of Tangerine Dream and that Edgar succeeds with wonder to concoct for a judicious insertion in these whirlwinds of heavy sequences which boost the magic concerts of Dream. And quietly, Franke and Schmoelling get seized of the last laments of Froese's guitar to tie them to their melodious synths which gradually slow the pace until the last breath of Quichotte Part Two. Powerful and timeless!

PERGAMON has landed in a context that nobody expected. Tangerine Dream had abandoned his long structures to the scents of well balanced improvisation and of creative madnesses for shorter pieces of EM. It was an unhoped-for present in a period where the Dream navigated on various labels in search of an artistic identity which worried their fans. It's a wonderful album which still shows all the magic behind this mythical German band which still had attractive things, in small parts some may say, to offer to their fans. Here is one of the last vestiges of the trio of the most rock that the history of EM has known; Franke-Froese-Schmoelling. PERGAMON is an inescapable, an essential and yes, another classic!

Sylvain Lupari (April 6th, 2013)

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