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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Shy People (1986)

This is a poor, very poor, album which only shows how TD were one day a band more interested in money than its artistic direction

1 Shy People (Vocal version) 7:50

2 Joe's Place 2:10

3 The Harbor 4:00

4 Nightfall 4:00

5 Dancing on a White Moon 3:03

6 Civilized Illusions 3:50

7 Swamp Voices 3:13

8 Transparent Days 3:00

9 Shy People (Instrumental version) 5:00

Varese Sarabande VCD 47357

(CD 36:06) (V.F.)

(Melodic, e-rock and synth-pop)

An element of collection among TD fans, I saw it at 90$ US on eBay, SHY PEOPLE is the last chapter with Christopher Franke in the story of Tangerine Dream. I read several posts of many TD forums that Franke's decision to leave the band has been strongly motivated with this phase of intense composition for music themes during this session of recording. Fact or true? Anyway, the supposedly easy adventure planned by Andrei Konchalovsky, the movie director, and Edgar Froese turned out to be a real nightmare. Himself a musician and composer of classical music, Konchalovsky established some very demanding working schedules of 16 hours a day in a context where the inspiration was lacking. In 2 months of intense work, Froese, Franke and Haslinger had composed only 84 minutes of music. At 4 days of deadline, the album was still not complete. One can imagine Edgar's head! But one day, the album had to be completed...Bad tongues are still expecting that day.

And the result is far from being proportional to the effort, nor to the incurred problems. The vocal version of Shy People could have fit on Tyger, so much the melodious portion sounds like it. The floating synth pads, which forge the introductory ambiences, and the guitar are beautiful. The whole thing sounds a lot like the opening of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. Only Edgar's guitar riffs are more mordant. The laments of Jacquie Virgil flow with sensitively. She has the same intonations as Jocelyn Bernadette Smith and the similarity with Tyger is too obvious not to think of it. The lack of heat and passion is also too obvious and this annoys because it's either a poor remix of Tyger or a title botched for lack of time and of means! Joe's Place is a short ambiospheric piece of music which is near the ambiences of Legend with a fluty approach and a floating synth. This is a good track which goes in the ears quite easily, just like Transparent Days and Swamp Voices; two tracks with smooth ethereal moods but which also sound and seem incompletes. Harbor is a big symphonic rock with guitar solo and trumpets harmonies à la Phil Collins. That leaves me of ice! Nightfall is a rather colourless piece of music built upon dull symphonic arrangements. Always, we look for passion, for depth.

Civilized Illusions is a track which sounds quite familiar to the new musical horizons of Edgar for the next couple of years. This is just synth-pop watered of effects on a synth and a beat-box too aggressive to be attractive. But it's not that bad considering what is coming. Shall we open a debate to known what is the most horrible and stupid title of TD? I vote for Dancing on a White Moon. According to my taste, and well I do believe that I have some, that's got to be the most worse music piece that Edgar and his henchmen had ever wrote. And yes they have written a couple of bad ones. It's empty of sense and candy pink. I cannot believe that TD has wrote and put this thing on CD. But maybe I don't know music after all because this track was chosen to be the single of SHY PEOPLE (sic!). The musical version of the title-track ends this soundtrack with a clearly livelier and more harmonious approach, but the synths made a bad decision by blowing melancholic airs à la Wish You Were Here, synth-pop version, in the passages where Jacquie Virgil sang.

SHY PEOPLE is another disappointing album from Tangerine Dream. But one needs to know how to put things in perspective because it is also an album which knew how to please a new generation of fans lovers of a more harmonious EM which is closer to easy listening and New Age. It's a pity that the end of a so beautiful association between Franke and Froese ends on a so false note. Although this and in spite of all the stories here and there surrounding the fracture of Franke/Tangerine Dream, it's the end of an era because the Dream is well and truly resolved to try a very financial artistic journey towards the USA and ... somewhere else!

Sylvain Lupari (February 21st, 2014) **½***

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