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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: The Sessions 1 (2017)

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

“The Sessions 1 goes from a simple note, generating two sonic tornados that have been warmly welcomed by the hardcore fans of Tangerine Dream”

1 Blue Arctic Danube 31:42 (10pm Session at A38 Budapest) 2 Gladiatorial Dragon 27:49 (9.35pm Session at AC Hall Hong Kong) Eastgate 080CD (CD 59:31) (Berlin School) (V.F.)

My ears have devoured the excellent album Particles. Composed of music performed in concert and a reworked version of Rubycon, the album also brought to our ears a whole improvised track in studio. A title which reflected this approach of Tangerine Dream's concerts during the years 73-83. Faced with the unexpected success of 4:00 pm Session, Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane decided to redo the experience during the concerts in Budapest and Hong Kong in early 2017. Performed as an encore, they appear in the first of a series of Cup-Disc, or Double Cup-Disc, entitled The Sessions. And since I'm always on time with my Tangerine Dream reviews (Sic!) and to mostly responding to my readers' requests, here is the first in a series of columns on the latest Tangerine Dream albums from the Quantum years. Dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese, THE SESSIONS 1 goes from a simple note, generating two sonic tornados that have been warmly welcomed by the hardcore fans of Tangerine Dream. Even if they have long decried this approach proposed by many imitators of the mythical German trio and even if the 3 new amigos of contemporary Electronic Music are also the equivalent of these groups that could not tolerate these same fans ... Go figure! But no matter, it's always very interesting to soak our ears in these ambiences which are full of surprises. Good as bad.

Recorded in Budapest on January 28, 2017, Blue Arctic Danube is the encore of an excellent concert that I had the chance to watch on YouTube. A shadow settles between our ears with a circular motion. The footprint lets pads float in the void, while quietly settles a multitude of drifting pads in search of a more homogeneous structure in the hope of crashing on it. We can detect imprints of the Jive years, but it is barely. The ambiences are enveloping, even with a reverberation wave which extends a disturbing buzzing aura. Luxurious layers, whose sound rays offer a vision of aurora borealis, arise here and there, while the ambiences unveil some beautiful ethereal orchestrations. Yes, we have these flute fragrances flowing here and there, whereas jinglings multiply their echoes in a portal of percussive elements which take more and more control of Blue Arctic Danube. We arrive at the 9th minute and I have the impression that the music has just started. It's at this moment that the sequencer starts. Supported by other elements of percussive sequences and effects, caressed by layers of deep chthonic voices, the rhythm is heavy and lively. Pure Berlin School with its ascending loops and resonant shadows, Blue Arctic Danube rolls like a stubborn train beneath an avalanche of nebulous layers, of effects and of highly stylized solos. A first fall slows the rhythm's race around the 17th minute, whereas a sequence loses its rhythmic compass. The effect is contagious to the ears. Amputated from this sequence, the rhythm loses its vigor more and more until it hobbles with difficulty at the point of 20 minutes. Without ever disappearing, it fights against an envelope of voices, mists and songs of a sharp flute in a sort of floating, like a body drifting between two layers of sonic shimmers. A ballet of effects and crystal chords as well as percussive floating effects invades our ears. The layers of ambience get multiplying and we discern with difficulty the lamentations of Hoshiko Yamane's cello who, honestly, seems to be lost in this setting. Cathedral layers cover this possible rhythmic hatch, bringing the final of Blue Arctic Danube in an ambient hideout.

Recorded on February 27, 2017 at the Academic Community Hall of Hong Kong, Gladiatorial Dragon begins with a round of applause. Listening with headphones is prioritized here, because of too much overload of effects, including these innumerable sounds of slide whistles. The tone and especially the approach are quite different from Blue Arctic Danube. The first part is of ambiences with more contemporary electronic tones which are so very diversified and with rhythmic embryos which come and go in a fury held by this mass of sound effects. In fact, we feel more the imprint of Tangerine Dream in this title with a vision which embraces the Logos years, including the 81-82 concerts. I think of titles like Undulation, Thermal Invasion or Silver Scale, especially because of the slow hatching of the rhythm. The sequencer is very active, but in exploratory mode with various formulas which are constantly held back or diminished by sounds and tones of all kinds. There is a very nice mix of old sounds, especially at the 14th minute spot, and cold tones from the MIDI years in this structure where the piano reminds that Thorsten Quaeschning is also the soul of Picture Palace Music. It's in a real din of distortions, which have assaulted my ears to be honest, that Gladiatorial Dragon is attempting one last breakthrough in the territories of sustained rhythms. But that's also aborted by this entrenched mass of sounds which has let this THE SESSIONS 1 on my appetite. Too much is like not enough! Except that Blue Arctic Danube is very good and the first 20 minutes of Gladiatorial Dragon are very respectable...

Sylvain Lupari (March 8th, 2019) ***½**

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