TANGERINE DREAM: The Island of the Fay (2011)
Updated: Jul 21
“Without a doubt, The Island of the Fay is a strong opus and one of the very good made by Tangerine Dream since ages”
1 Marmontel Riding on a Clef 7:46
2 Breath Kissing Matter's Mouth 8:59
3 Beauty of Magic Antagonism 5:58
4 Fay Bewitching the Moon 11:01
5 Cycle of Eternity 6:461
6 Death in the Shadow 9:08
7 Moment of Floating into the Light 9:27
8 Darkness Veiling the Night 8:44
(CD/DDL 67:52) (V.F.)
(Electronic Progressive Rock)
Wow! I have to admit that I am impressed! Inspired by a work of Edgar Allan Poe, THE ISLAND OF THE FAY is the first of a series of dark musical poems. And yet another Edgar Froese ambitious musical project which shows that the old fox possesses several strings to his bow. Like many Tangerine Dream fans, I too was subjected by this album's musical wealth. And this is for this reason that I took the time to review it. And after some listening, I understood that this last album of the Dream sounded exactly like the honeyed works that Edgar offers us since the TDI and the Eastgate years. Except that this time, he is accompanied by Thorsten Quaeschning on composition and on the recording. The latter and his theatrical vision of Picture Palace Music bring an incredible depth to the album which is also supported by 6 musicians who enrich a sound structure which would have exactly rung like in Views From a Red Train, Chandra and in the Nagasaki series if Edgar would have been alone to surmount his fear of sounding like in old TD from the Franke and Schmoëlling years (Beauty of Magic Antagonism and Death in the Shadow) while giving a wink to Klaus Schulze (Fay Bewitching The Moon). In doing so, THE ISLAND OF THE FAY enters a zone that Edgar Froese seemed to avoid and denied at all costs; that of Tangerine Dream.
A swaying synth line introduces a frenetic sequential movement among which pulsations and hybrid palpitations form a strange fusion with sound waves and sinuous synth lines which introduce the very lively Marmontel Riding on a Clef. Absolutely brilliant, this intro, heavy of its multiple sequential lines, that a bass line bites of its hatched chords, is decorated with delicate pads of a discreet synth in tones always so divided between the symphonic approaches and vocalizes that became so dear to Edgar. This melodious approach is inserting by timid bits and pieces on a colossal sequential structure which unfurls at high speed and is feeding of its wriggling vibes with the adding of nervous shadows and double-jumping chords that are spinning in almighty spirals, good curt percussions and varied jingles which strengthen a surprising and stunning circular rhythmic approach of which the synthesized melody still remains. Marmontel Riding on a Clef is a great track of which the dark depth is dissipating in furious sequential movements, while Matter's Breath Kissing Mouth offers a more temperate, even static, rhythmic approach. The intro is dark and imprinted of mystery with its heavy pulsating chords which are circulating in loops among flickering sound effects and percussions. Slow, the rhythm meets a nervous sequenced movement from which crystal-clear chords flutter in an unbridled staccato with rotary spirals. With its 2 parallel rhythmic structures Matter's Breath Kissing Mouth bubbles beneath its sequences which dance of a circular fury on synth layers fill by astral choruses and sinister violin lamentations. Beauty of Magic Antagonism is a nice silvered melody with a Tangerine Dream zest from the Hyperborea and Le Parc years. The rhythm is slow with a taste of metal and lean on good percussion strikes and on nervous sequences. The synth there is very melodious and let flows a good approach in the harmonies of the Dream from the 80-90's years, quite as Cycle of Eternity which is, on the other hand, more nervous and closer to contemporary tones of the Dream with Iris Carmaa's lively percussions. Fay Bewitching the Moon is one of the strongest moments with its swaying intro and magnificent orchestral arrangements where melancholic impulses of strings instruments slide on a skin of shagreen. A movement which is not without recalling Klaus Schulze on X. Afterward we go into the sombre universe of the Dream with a tempo skipping on synth pads and in reminiscences that we cannot denied. The percussions of Iris Carmaa add an unreal depth to these metallic synth pads so unique to Froese. The violin of Hoshiko Yamane caresses Fay Bewitching the Moon's hopping and jerky rhythm which is really at the musical doors of Tangerine Dream's 2 pole. This is simply a wonderful track that smells the genius to full ears.
The sequential movement and the percussions on Death in the Shadow's introduction remind me a lot of Warsaw in the Sun's catchy beat. Little by little, the rhythm gets more nervous and skims over by hybrid synth layers. A little as everywhere in this album, the rhythm is stationary, even if bubbling, and is centred on a fusion sequences / percussions which beats a nervous pace, always on the edge to explode but which holds its implosion near the oblong cooing notes of a bass line. Synth layers adopt the tongue of angelic vocalizes while scattered pads add a depth filled of musical fragrances of the Pinnacles and Stuntman years to a track which wins in ferocity as it progresses. Moment of Floating into the Light is a long ballad that glides on good nervous but stable sequences that splendid guitar solos from the old silvered fox betray his nostalgia. It's a very poignant ballad where the heavy rhythm never overflows and the fusion synth / guitar flows throughout a slightly hopping sequenced movement. Darkness Veiling the Night is the other very strong moment of THE ISLAND OF THE FAY. A track that brings us in territories even darker and more mysterious than Matter's Breath Kissing Mouth with a languishing rhythm which begins its growth with percussions of which the felted resonances strike in a strange world with atmospheric and eclectic chords. Chords of a wandering guitar cover the stride of this odd diurnal march where notes of a solitary piano cross the strikings of percussions which sound like a xylophone in an atmosphere where romance goes alongside apocalypse. That's a delicious mix of Picture Palace Music and Tangerine Dream on sumptuous orchestral arrangements which add a romantic depth to this heavy and powerful track, as much as its languishing tempo that its suave arrangements can make melting a rock. Yet it's another splendid track that the blackness of the character that is Thorsten Quaeschning.
Doubtless, THE ISLAND OF THE FAY is a strong opus and one of the very good made by Tangerine Dream since years. Without being casted in the experimental ambiences of the 70's, the music here is much more convincing and has much more punch than in the late Schmoelling years. It's a strong EM album which crosses the decades of the Dream to dive quite hard into a story that should continue with a volume 2. This is simply magic and delicious, a return to one's roots strongly hoped since moons and that no one expected since years.
Sylvain Lupari (May 5th, 2011) ****½*
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