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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Tyranny of Beauty (1995)

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

“But Muzak is Muzak!”

1 Catwalk 7:21 2 Birdwatcher's Dream 6:52 3 Little Blond in the Park of Attractions 6:57 4 Living in A Fountain Pen 6:59 5 Stratosfear 1994 5:08 6 Bride in Cold Tears 4:53 7 Haze of Fame 8:30 8 Tyranny of Beauty 6:35 9 Largo from "Xerxes" 4:12 Miramar 0 9006-23046-2

(CD 57:27) (V.F.) (E-Rock, New Age, Easy Listening)

Another review about Tangerine Dream that will draw my share of shit among the fans of the nth edition of the now controversial flagship group of the birth of the Berlin School, the cradle of the 70's. Whether we like it or not, the different versions of Edgar Froese's Tangerine Dream raise a lot of passion. And it's not this TYRANNY OF BEAUTY that will calm down the debates. After an album difficult to give a decent passing score in Turn of the Tides, which I liked by the way, the subalterns of the white fox and the white fox himself come back to us with another album which is a sort of tote-all. Rhythm-in-boxes, easy orchestrations, Linda Spa's saxophone (no one can't explain her presence or its relevance), keyboard and guitar riffs, synth pads, percussion (lots of percussion), percussive effects (some even brilliant) and good (like less good) guitar solos by 2 guitarists who have the mandate to replace the very talented Zlatko Perica. Many rhythms, snippets of melodies and noises that run on structures erected without too much conviction. This is the essence of the 50th album of version 6 (or 8 like 5) of Tangerine Dream. Yet, TYRANNY OF BEAUTY begins on the right side of music with Catwalk and its effects of floating voices in foggy layers which unlock its introduction. We note the presence of the sequencer here weaving keys vibrating on the spot, bringing a beautiful melodious approach to the lobes of our ears. Evolutive, the rhythm stores a plethora of much varied electronic percussions, as well as percussive sequences, while the melody whistles its tunes shrouded in shades. A guitar, like flamingo style, nervously agitated its strings while orchestrations enhance this Latino passage with flights of the disco genre of the 70's. The strength of the title is its constant evolution that gives it a lot of power. And even if sometimes we feel too much diversity in the structure, the whole thing respects a certain homogeneity while having a good depth at the creative level. Catwalk will become a classic of the new repertoire of this Tangerine Dream's era. It's the guitars, played by Gerald Gradwohl and Mark Hornby, which give a little soul to Birdwatcher's Dream. But its pace is like those most mathematical models exploited by father and son Froese with a few more percussive ingredients to its final. That's quite cold and too much calculated in a Rock & New Age genre! Then I liked the rather melodious beginning of Little Blond in the Park of Attractions. Even the sounds from the saxophone, the meaning of which I have never understood in the music of the Dream, are entering to the station quite well. Then comes this melodic New Age episode without flavor nor passion and this avalanche of percussions which tumble with a Rockoon's vision. Unexpected, it passes! But the coldness ...

How to explain Living in A Fountain Pen? Throw acoustic guitar riffs, some good guitar solos from the other guitar which are quite juicy. Toss pell-mell percussions and percussive effects as well as old sonic Coat of Arms from the Schmoelling era. Modulate soulless rock and do not forget the saxophone with its ditty very easy listening. It's like having good ingredients but a poor conductor to lead all of those sounds, and some are quite good. And this observation is a bit normal. Jerome Froese is still young, and his compositional ability remains to be refined. Linda Spa ... is Linda Spa, while Edgar seems worn out. And the musicians that come and go without creating a chemistry inside the different versions of the band adds also to this effect of creative sterility. Still, I like Stratosfear 1994! This is the prelude of what our ears will get years later with the Dream Mixes series. But before there are titles such as Haze of Fame and its morphic moods submerged by other good guitar solos. It's still good New Age. But even at this level, there is better. Bride in Cold Tears? Too many effects, and the style is too very ERA to a true TD fan. Even from this era! There are good ideas, but they are not enough developed. A bit like everything was done at speed... A sensation that has annoyed me more than once since the end of the Jive years. And what about Largo from Xerxes and its Kenny G tones? The kind of thing that can't be explained coming from a musician like Edgar Froese. I don't think George Frideric Handel would have appreciated, nor consented to such a reprise of his classic. This same tasteless saxophone even manages to make me rage in the title-track which literally sounds like an instrumental title of a movie for teens in the 80's. Thompson Twins, Tears for Fear, Simple Minds and even Eurythmic would have done 10 times better with all of this Dream's technologies. That too is another annoying observation. My cd version doesn't have the bonus track Quasar. And I'm not even interested in hearing it. Muzak! Nothing but Muzak...

Sylvain Lupari (April 23rd, 2019) **½***

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