This album is the first by the post-Froese band where no new music was provided by Edgar, even as sketches for new material, as was the case with 2017’s Quantum Gate, the previous and rather good studio album. Released to coincide with the small but perfectly formed exhibition of TD clippings, photos and synthesisers at the Barbican Library, entitled “Zeitraffer” (free entry, running until 2/5/20), Recurring Dreams, perhaps disappointingly, offers no new music but instead treats us to reimagined versions of old songs, performed by the current trio.
Thorsten Quaeschning, who has been in the band since 2005, and the much more recent recruits Hoshiko Yamane, and Ulrich Schnauss make a decent fist of reworking these old tunes, but it all comes across as a bit flat, especially after the promise shown on the last record. Tangerine Dream were once, a long long time ago, true innovators on the Berlin tentacle of the amorphous Krautrock octopus, and were hugely influential on the developing electronic music scene, and that influence continues, with many modern bands owing them debts of varying degrees as a result. However, it is a very long time indeed since the words “innovative” and “Tangerine Dream” were seen cosying up together in the same sentence, with Froese’s band having long since settled into a comfortable and unthreatening niche, slowly fading away into the cosmos, churning out a steady unending stream of cosmic navel-gazing of varying quality. That the mantle has been carried on by the current line-up, initially with some promise on Quantum Gate, now seems somewhat pointless unless they can come up with something fresh and give the band a new lease of life.
On Recurring Dreams, they use banks of synthesisers, old and new, and add new layers to these tracks, most of which have appeared in their original form not only on their source albums but on a bewildering number of compilations down the years. Despite the new arrangements, over-familiarity might be a problem for even the casual fan. It’s still a decent listen for all that, but hardly essential.
A neat and contrasting comparison is inevitably drawn with the current version of Gong, another band whose sole surviving original member and driving force recently left us for another galaxy, leaving his bandmates behind to carry on the message with his blessing. The nu-pothead pixies have taken very little time to establish their own identity, and have injected the brand with a new vigour, and life-affirming new music is the result, being played to slowly but surely growing audiences. For all that they are still recognisably “Gong”. This is admittedly a hard trick to pull off and as yet, on current evidence, Tangerine Dream are falling somewhat short.
Their next album seems to me to be “do or die”, but in the strange world of Tangerine Dream releases, where reissues upon reissues must try even the hardiest fan’s patience, maybe endless rehashes don’t seem so strange. Surely the band themselves will want to come up with something new, or what is the point, exactly?
Watch this space, if you’re still awake…
01. Sequent C 2019 (2:27)
02. Monolight(Yellow Part) (7:40)
03. Tangram Set 1 2019 (5:43)
04. Horizon 2019 Part 1 (6:46)
05. Horizon 2019 Part 2 (7:15)
06. Phaedra 2014 (8:15)
07. Los Santos City Map (7:24)
08. Claymore Mine/Stalking (5:41)
09. Yellowstone Park 2019 (6:34)
10. Stratosfear 2019 (11:35)
11. Der Mondistaufgegangen(Part 1 & 2) (9:06)
Total Time – 78:29
Thorsten Quaeschning – Keyboards, Synths, Guitar, Drums
Hoshiko Yamane – Violin, Viola, Cello, Ableton Push, Looper
Ulrich Schnauss – Keyboards, Synths, Sequencer control, Ableton, FX
Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: Germany
Date of Release: 27th December 2019