Tree of Dreams
Edgar Willmar Froese was born and raised in what was East Prussia, Germany, on June 6, 1944. The area now belongs to Russia as Sovetsk. The date of Froese’s birth took place on the historical D-Day of World War II. He was born to a widowed mother who lost her husband while fighting against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Army during the war. When the war was over, the family moved to Berlin. When Froese was twelve years old he began to play the piano. He then took up the guitar when he was fifteen years old. He later studied painting and sculpture at Berlin’s Academy of the Arts. In addition to these accomplishments, Froese has a doctorate in Kant’s categorical imperative. When it was realized his point of view didn’t comply with the college, he left his academic pursuits behind. This would mark the beginning of his music career.
Froese started his first band, The Ones, in 1965. The style of music they played at the time was a mix of psychedelic rock and R&B. When they were performing in Spain, Froese and his bandmates were invited to perform for Salvador Dali at his villa. This led Froese to experiment with different music styles that would trigger him to disband The Ones in 1967. He returned to Berlin, founding Tangerine Dream after recruiting its first lineup. This was a name that came about after Froese was inspired by the Beatles’ hit classic, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Interestingly enough, he misunderstood one of the song’s lines, that actually quoted “tangerine trees,” not “tangerine dreams.”
From Pink to Blue
The influence of technology played a key role in Froese’s interest when it came to creating music. He also created his own instruments and collected various sounds with a tape recorder that would be applied to his musical compositions. His earliest work featured tape loops and repetitive sounds as he took advantage of a new piece of musical technology that was introduced at the time, the sequencer. Through Ohr, Tangerine Dream recorded its first studio album, Electronic Meditation. Released in 1970, the album used the technology they had access to.
The trademark sound of Froese’s Tangerine Dream was not yet established at this time. However, the band’s era during the “Pink Years” era officially began which would lead to Tangerine Dream’s second album, Alpha Centauri. This time, the recording made good use of electronic instruments, especially the organ. This instrument was featured prominently through most of the first half of the 1970s as Froese continued to bring forth one album after another. As a trio, Frose, Baumann, and Franke heavily influenced the electronic music scene which also included heavy reliance on the Mellotron.
As for the “pink” era, Ohr was a record label known for its pink ear logo. While with Ohr, Tangerine Dream also recorded and released Atem in 1973 before moving on to Virgin Records in 1974. With that label, they recorded and released Phaedra. After this, there were eight additional studio albums produced during an era referred to by the fans as the “Virgin Years.” It then became the “Blue Years” after Tangerine Dream switched to Jive Records and produced their 1984 album, Poland. Jive Records was known for its blue logo.
Calculating the Years
The “Melrose Years” began in 1988 after Tangerine Dream signed up with Peter Baumann’s own music label. It was located in Los Angeles, California, on Melrose Avenue. The album released at that time was Optical Race. It was also during this era Tangerine Dream experienced a flurry of lineup changes. This included the departure of Christopher Franke. This opened the door for Edgar Froese’s son, Jerome, to join the lineup. Australian composer Linda Spa also joined the father and son team during what became the “Seattle Years.”
It was during this time Tangerine Dream signed with Miramar and released the 1992 album, Rockoon. Four years later, the group briefly signed to Castle’s label before Froese decided to create a label of his own, TDI. The “TDI Years,” also dubbed the “Millennium Years,” gave way to the “Eastgate Years” after Froese opted to rename his record label in 2005. As soon as Tangerine Dream tapped into quantum mechanics as a new musical sound, the “Quantum Years” officially began after the 2014 release of Mala Kunia.
Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream carry on a legacy that includes serving as pioneers of electronic music. The pinnacle of Tangerine Dream’s career as a recording act featured Froese, Peter Baumann, and Christopher Franke. In 1979, Baumann was replaced by Johannes Schmoelling. What made Tangerine Dream stand out was the influence of new-age and electronic dance music. In addition to a wide range of musical scores developed by Froese and his bandmates, they also created music for various soundtracks for movies, television, and video games.
In addition to Tangerine Dream’s legacy as electronic-based musicians, they also made a name for themselves as visual artists. As technology continued to open up new doors in the music industry, Froese jumped at every opportunity possible to push new boundaries. When Laserium was introduced as something that could be used for a concert in 1977, this marked the beginning of yet another era for Tangerine Dream as performers. As a band, they mostly stuck with instrumental music. 1978’s Cyclone was an exception to that rule, as well as 1987’s Tyger. These two albums featured a collection of songs with vocals, as well as 1981’s “Kiew Mission” and 1987’s “The Harbor.” There was also 2007’s Madcap’s Flaming Duty and 2010’s cover of Under Cover – Chapter One, two more albums that featured performances by vocalists.
Continuing a Legacy
After Froese’s sudden passing from a pulmonary embolism on January 20, 2015, Thorsten Quaeschning, picked up the mantle to carry on his legacy. This was honoring the request made by Froese when it came to choosing a successor to carry on as Tangerine Dream. The lineup changes continue but Quaeschning has kept his promise by keeping this musical legacy going. To date, Tangerine Dream has over two hundred albums that feature live, studio, and compilation works. They’ve also contributed music to thirty-six soundtrack albums. As of 2022, the latest studio album released was Raum. It is a continuation of Tangerine Dream’s EP, Probe 6-8.
Top 10 Tangerine Dream Songs
#10 – Dreamtime
From Tangerine Dream’s seventh live album, 220 Volt Live, “Dreamtime” was part of its 1992 recording that took place in the US between October and November. It was released as a single in 1993. Considered the most rock-oriented music the group produced so far, much of the credit went to Zlatko Perica as he and his guitar played a prominent role in this song. This was also the case throughout the entire album. In 1994, it earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Age Album. It was edged out by Paul Winter Consort’s Spanish Angel.
#9 – Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares
“Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” was one of the standout songs featured on Tangerine Dream’s fifth studio album, Phaedra. This was an instrumentally dramatic song that was also featured on the 2018 Netflix interactive film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. In the movie, the main character had to choose between the music from Tangerine Dream’s album and Isao Tomita’s The Bermuda Triangle. Because it’s an interactive movie, the decision is made by the fan, dictating how the rest of the movie played out. Both Tangerine Dream and Isao Tomita were pioneering legends of electronic music that heavily influenced how pop culture evolved clean through the 1970s. At nearly ten minutes long, “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” featured Edgar Froese performing his solo on a Mellotron that laid out an ominous sweep of effects.
#8 – Coldwater Canyon
“Coldwater Canyon” was a single from Tangerine Dream’s album, Encore: Tangerine Dream Live. The recording of the album came from the highly successful US tour the band experienced in 1977. This song was another sequencer phenom that was laced with wonderful guitar work by Edgar Froese. If you want a hypnotic ride for a song, “Coldwater Canyon” is it.
#7 – Rubycon, Part I & II
Released in 1975 as Tangerine Dream’s sixth studio album, Rubycon produced two songs that were named after it. The first was “Rubycon, Part I,” which is just over seventeen minutes’ worth of tense music that sounds every bit as threatening as it is entertaining. The Mellotron was prominent here, as well as the echo effects that made this such a cool, ominous song to listen to. In all honesty, listening to “Rubycon, Part I” and “Rubycon, Part II” without interruption makes the overall experience so much better.
#6 – Das Madchen auf der Treppe
In English, “Das Madchen auf der Treppe” means “The Girl on the Steps.” Released in 1982, this soundtrack single was used during an episode of the German crime-based TV series, Tatort. On the German Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number thirteen. It was an electronic remix of 1982’s “White Eagle,” another fantastic song composed by Tangerine Dream.
#5 – A Time For Heroes
“A Time For Heroes” was the official theme song of the 1987 International Summer Special Olympics World Games. It was composed by Jon Lyons that featured a vocal version performed by Meat Loaf and Brian May. The instrumental versions were performed by Tangerine Dream. The host city for this seventh annual edition of the Special Olympics was held in the American state of Indiana. Instrumentally, Tangerine Dream made “A Time for Heroes” incredibly inspirational.
#4 – Ricochet, Part One
I still get the chills every time I hear the opening synth lines on this great track. The sound of percussion and wind created a sense of errieness which always fueled some of the best music the group released. This very cool piece of music was released on the album also entitled Ricochet. The album was released in 1975. It stands as the band’s first live album release. The albums consisted of two vinyl sides with “Ricochet Part One” taking up the entire A-side and “Ricochet Part Two” taking up the entire B-side.
#3 – Love on a Real Train
In 1984, “Love on a Real Train” was a song featured on the Risky Business movie soundtrack. It has since been featured in a variety of films and series as a favorite music score based on specified scenes. Among some of the critics, “Love on a Real Train” was regarded as one of the best songs of the 1980s. The influence of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians can be found here as Johannes Schmoelling was a fan who followed the American composer. The beauty of this song truly captured the essence of the 1980s. As a listener, hope comes alive with the desire to move forward after experiencing a bit of an emotional low. Among the fans, this was the common ground they shared as they agree this was one of Tangerine Dream’s best songs ever recorded.
#2 – Phaedra
“Phaedra” was the title track of Tangerine Dream’s fifth studio album. It was released in 1974 via Virgin Records. According to Greek mythology, “Phaedra” was a Cretan princess. In the song, the group performed over seventeen minutes of music that felt like a ride through the cosmos. There were layers of futuristic sounds that built their way to a climatic finish as if the listener was about to get disappear in some kind of wormhole or void. This song, as well as the album as a whole, was regarded as an important milestone for Tangerine Dream as a band. In 2018, this was one of two songs that was featured in the 2018 Netflix interactive movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
# 1 – Force Majeure
We close out our Top 10 Tangerine Dreams songs list with the classic recording of the song “Force Majeure.” It’s hard to call these musical compositions and recordings the band released songs. They are in fact amazing musical pieces. This musical recording that we have placed in the number one spot took up the entire side of a full-length vinyl record. The piece “Force Majeure.” was also the title of the album it was released on. The Force Majeure album was released in 1979. The album featured Edgar Froese on keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, Christopher Franke on keyboards and sequencers and Klaus Krüger on drums.
Photo: Original: Ralf Roletschek at German WikipediaModifications: Cornischong at Luxembourgish Wikipedia, GFDL <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>, via Wikimedia Commons
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