Serious Tangerine Dream scholars can cite chapter and verse regarding the various phases of this pioneering German synthesizer band’s 45-year journey. Devotees will make knowing references to the group’s “Pink,” “Blue,” “Melrose” and “Seattle” eras—designations based less on style than on record-label deals, though the attributes are at least partly connected. For everyone else, Tangerine Dream’s output falls into two main categories: before and after Tom Cruise.
Specifically, Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack for the 1983 Cruise vehicle Risky Business—especially “Love on a Real Train,” a seductive meditation strongly inspired by Steve Reich’s music—seemed to signal a decisive transition. Gone were krautrock-derived improvisations and melancholy analog-synthesizer tone poems like those on seminal 1974 LP Phaedra, replaced by bright melodies, digital electronics, electric-guitar heroics and keening soprano sax. Today self-sufficient and explosively prolific, the group lately has rerecorded some of its early milestones—presumably as much for ownership as to take advantage of updated technology.
As Tangerine Dream arrives for its first New York show since 1992, only founder and guiding light Edgar Froese remains from the early years. Joined by keyboardist Thorsten Quaeschning, saxophonist Linda Spa, guitarist Bernhard Biebl, violinist Hoshiko Yamane and drummer Iris Camaa, Froese will mount a video-enhanced overview of his influential career. True, jazz-lite sax ballads might give old-school fans pause. But vintage tracks like “Ricochet” and “Stratosfear” have turned up on recent set lists, and the group’s newest material is some of its headiest in years.—Steve Smith
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