TANGERINE DREAM: Raum (2022)
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
“This Raum is the right album for Tangerine Dream at this very precise moment”
1 Continuum 7:09
2 Portico 6:42
3 In 256 Zeichen 19:07
4 You're Always on Time 8:07
5 Along the Canal 5:29
6 What You Should Know About Endings 6:55
7 Raum 14:54
Kscope – KSCOPE1019
(CD/LP/DDL 68:32) (V.F.)
I've read some simply rave reviews about this latest Tangerine Dream album. And we're not just talking about fans flooding social networks with adjectives that transcend the usual excesses of the diehard aficionados. Enough to intimidate any beginning of criticism that would go in the opposite direction of this collective euphoria, as well as against these criticisms that seem all justified to me. My verdict? Well, I think that Thorsten Quaeschning's gang succeeded in bringing the musical ship of the late Edgar Froese to these creative lands, like when Edgar and Chris Franke went from Force Majeure to Exit with the arrival of Johannes Schmoelling. Already Probe 6-8 sounded different, I would be curious to know how many of you recognized Tangerine Dream when listening to this RAUM. I did the test for having scattered 5 of the 7 tracks of this album among a good 20 other electronic music (EM) tracks through my network player. And only the last moments of In 256 Zeichen gave it away.
I had already been seduced by the fascinating texture of percussions, bass-pulses and muffled sequences that served as the rhythmic basis for a nervous synchronized dance of keyboard chords from Continuum on the single Probe 6-8, so that I go directly to Portico. Its minimalist opening is built on a series of 3 percussive chords jumping into the echo effect of the previous one and each layer of which, there are three, brings its nuances into a rhythmic and melodic canon quite unexpected. These elements are welded into a spasmodic texture with synth loops that distort their charms over hand percussions effects. The envelope is crafted of this opaque synthesized haze whose psychedelic effects dilute a murky melodic vision that goes to a short transitional phase before returning with more poise. It's not exactly great, but it follows the curve of Continuum in a fusion of the universes from Paul Frick and from Quaeschning/Yamane duo. I will continue with the other 3 short tracks before coming back to In 256 Zeichen. And it is not because they are short that they lack interest! You're Always on Time. I like its ascension woven in the mysteries of a murky, if not chthonian but not like the old TD, EM which turns into a good downtempo. Always well supported by this laborious work of percussions, bass-sequences and percussive sequences, this a priori driving rhythm becomes heavy and slow, with some ephemeral bursts of speed, and sails in a dramatic vision woven by chords and synth layers more serious, more austere. There are magical moments where a heavy bass texture crawls with a Mephistophelian vision and the synths weave good solos and layers of mist around a dialogue of fat and juicy keyboard chords. Its 2nd part is definitely more musical and melodic. An excellent track!
The sequencer and percussive sequences are at their most seductive in RAUM and this is even truer on Along the Canal. Let's talk about its beautiful White Eagle-like melody that decorates a seraphic introduction and whose undulating synth layers guide us to another fluty melody that haunts the senses. It's afterwards that sequences jumping on an ill-fitting conveyor belt which are being sucked into a heavily pulsating rhythmic texture, flooding our ears with a heavy and very aesthetic rhythmic flow. Art for ears! A very interesting prelude to the 15-minute title-track, What You Should Know About Endings is a track whose parapsychic ambiences hover over a static rhythm structure that is its opposite. I've already written at length about Raum in the Probe 6-8 review, so it's time to talk about the gem In 256 Zeichen, which features a progressive structure going to a breathtaking finale. Its opening is woven over cascades of sounds shimmering like the lively water of a stream, or the stagnant water of a cosmic river. There is not much movement, even though the mass of sounds, including percussions without rhythmic desire, gain in intensity until Hoshiko Yamane's violin weaves a swaying movement into the charms of a good bass line a little after the 5th minute. This movement is magnetizing while the structure takes on another musical tangent that breathes the essences of Johannes Schmoelling's creative period within Tangerine Dream. The rhythm gets more fluid with a movement that follows the undulations of the violin on a structure made jerky by the sequencer. Scents of Firestarter and Flashpoint emanate from all the pores of this very hypnotising segment whose skilful play of the percussions guides us towards the 3rd transitory phase of In 256 Zeichen which is situated a little before its 11th minute. The track becomes then very intense and animated in a texture which approaches audaciously the Logos and Hyperborea years from Tangerine Dream. A huge track that justifies its 20 minutes for its 3 phases!
This RAUM is the right album for Tangerine Dream at this very precise moment. Quaeschning, Yamane and Frick are far away from everything, but still close to the roots of the old dream of our dear Edgar. It's a new sound with a new vision that doesn't distort the Dream's past while mapping out the roads of tomorrow. The time I spent discovering this album, because no I didn't like it at first listens, made me realize all the meticulous work behind the roots of a complex album guided by 3 musicians who have this desire to bring Tangerine Dream where it should always be. That is to say, the vessel of the avant-garde in terms of contemporary ME.
Sylvain Lupari (April 1st, 2022) *****
Available at Groove nl