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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Tangerine Dream Stratosfear (1976)

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

This album kick-off the Tangerine Dream's years which will undertake a North-American Tour that will lead to Encore

1 Stratosfear (10:04)

2 Big Sleep In Search Of Hades (4:45)

3 3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee (8:10)

4 Invisible Limits (11:40)

Virgin CDV 2068

(CD 34:39) (V.F.)

(Berlin School)

I will not tell you stories of internal tension. Neither of the too big place that Edgar Froese would have taken. Neither the ingenuity of Franke who manages to roll electronic percussions and exytracts mines of sequencers rhythms beautifully designed by Peter Baumann and even less the dexterity and genius of the latter behind the mellotron. No! I'm going to talk about music. I'm going to talk about STRATOSFEAR. A 1970s EM classic. An album that has traced a more melodious path to the Berlin School style EM. For lovers of experimental music, STRATOSFEAR marked the end of the era of the sound experiences of the Dream. Chris Franke hasrooted his place with the giant MOOG. It was the beginning of the golden years of EM, at least at home, in North America.

The wandering chords of a soft acoustic guitar meet the mists of a dark mellotron. After a brief introduction of iodized steam, the sequencer introduces a bass and round line whose chords roll like percussion and waved in a biting rhythm on keyboard chords that merge into a melodious and symphonic synth. The cadence is amplified with subdivided sequences that mold finely feverish percussions, guiding Stratosfear towards a superb melodious passage with its ghostly synth. A remarkable passage where one feels the dramatic and mephistolic approach of Stratosfear which reaches its melodious apotheosis with strident spectral synth blows. With its wild rhythm on sequences with subdivided chords and random percussions, Stratosfear navigates in troubled waters embracing brief atmospheric passages but always keeping the course on a minimalist rhythmic with fine modulations. Everything is beautifully combed by Edgar Froese's juicy guitar. And the rest is history. Stratosfear, as well as its title track, will mark the destiny of Tangerine Dream, as much as Stairway to Heaven scored that of Led Zeppelin. While the electronic music, or rather the space rock, of the 70's is filled with heavy analog synths (movements still supported by Phaedra and Rubycon) as well as long floating and hypnotic synth lines, Tangerine Dream offers a more melodious and rhythmical album. An album that follows in the footsteps of Phaedra and that also combines an experimental electronic music with the fusions of a progressive rock with the essences of a foggy folk. Big Sleep In Search Of Hades and 3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee are perfect examples.

Delicate acoustic guitar chords parade on a tender bass line and a dreamlike mellotron blowing beautiful flute lines. This nice intro dreamy dark to a more gloomy approach with layers of a synth ostensibly perverse and intriguing background of heterogeneous sound effects. The mellotron and the guitar take the melodious breath of the beginning and return Big Sleep In Search Of Hades in the land of dreams. A superb moment. 3 AM at The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee starts on a dark note that falls with bitterness on a harmonica background. The atmosphere is scary and easily represents the atmosphere of some dark swamp. A title that must have inspired Sorcerer with its bass and intriguing line. The mellotron is suave and Peter Baumann leaves his last tracks with a dexterity that will be difficult to replace on future games of TD. Again, the sequential bearings are sublime and marry to perfection a disjointed ambience where the mellotron flute of Baumann saves the twisted passages. Big TD that shows that a piece of idea can take many forms. Invisible Limits finishes this 70's EM classic in a great way. A thin bass line continues the intriguing atmosphere of the previous piece with weak guitar chords. A soft synth covers the air with Baumann's ethereal mellotron as Edgar shakes his six-strings with sensuality. This sweet intro forks into a more animated movement where the electric guitar emerges mystic mists, blending into a superb fusion electric guitar and strata of mellotron floating on a sequencer become more and more furious. The tempo runs and zigzags accompanied by a strange synth where Froese sprinkles his strings with a magic oil because they melt with astonishment in a mixture electro / acoustic and a fairy of sound effects. Invisible Limits is extinguished on a beautiful nocturnal passage where the grand piano forges a path among the galactic debris and transfers its harmonies to a superb flute, whose breath torments our ears, many seconds after its last exhalation.

After the release of STRATOSFEAR Tangerine Dream was going to undertake an American Northern tour which, a few three decades later, remains engraved in many memories. A great tour catches on a sublime double album, Encore.

Sylvain Lupari (July 19th, 2006) *****

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