Tan­ger­ine Dream

Prog - - Contents - Words: Mal­colm Dome Images: Bianca Froese-Ac­quaye Ulrich Schnauss

Ger­man prog synth pi­o­neers prove that there’s life be­yond Edgar Froese.

EOn their lat­est al­bum,

Tan­ger­ine Dream re­dis­cover their love of synths, ex­plore quan­tum physics and take in­spi­ra­tion from Stranger

Things. But should the land­mark 50th an­niver­sary re­lease – and the band it­self – even ex­ist fol­low­ing the pass­ing of leader Edgar Froese? The re­main­ing Dream­ers tell Prog about mov­ing on.

dgar Froese died on Jan­uary 20, 2015. And for many, that should have sig­nalled the end of Tan­ger­ine Dream, the band he’d founded and led since their in­cep­tion in 1967. But here we are, in 2017, with the Krautrock icons hav­ing just re­leased Par­ti­cles, and with new al­bum Quan­tum Gate due out in Septem­ber. And the rea­son the pi­o­neer­ing elec­tronic band are car­ry­ing on is due to… Edgar Froese! “I have to ad­mit that I’d have been very hes­i­tant to con­tinue with Tan­ger­ine Dream af­ter he’d died, but he in­sisted,” ex­plains Thorsten Quaeschning, who joined the band in 2005. “It was an order from Edgar, and you never dis­obeyed him!”

“We would be ly­ing if we said we don’t have any doubts, even now,” adds Ulrich Schnauss, who be­came a mem­ber of the Dream in 2014. “But the choice was made for us by Edgar. He wanted us to carry on and make his vi­sion for

the Quan­tum Years phase of the band hap­pen. And we are com­mit­ted to do­ing just that.”

How­ever, both ac­cept that it will be tough to win over fans who be­lieve Froese was the cre­ative force and that with­out him, there can never be a Tan­ger­ine Dream. This was re­in­forced in March 2015 when Jerome Froese, Edgar’s son, announced that Tan­ger­ine Dream were dead with­out his fa­ther.

“I know how he feels about the sit­u­a­tion,” says Quaeschning. “But to be hon­est, I don’t think he has ever come to terms with not

“All we ask is that fans lis­ten to what we are do­ing with open minds, and then make their choice. If they don’t want to lis­ten to any­thing more, then that’s fair enough. But I re­ally do be­lieve that fans of the band will en­joy what we are striv­ing to achieve.”

be­ing in the band [he was a mem­ber from 1990 to 2006]. I got to know him very well sev­eral years ago, and I gen­uinely do think he was up­set that he never had the chance to bring his own vi­sion for Tan­ger­ine Dream to fruition. That’s what he was af­ter, but it was never go­ing to hap­pen.

“I un­der­stand why he made the com­ment he did about the band be­ing dead. But I met up with him last sum­mer and he was OK about it all, but had a de­gree of des­per­a­tion about the way in which he’d been side­lined, in his opin­ion. I have some sym­pa­thy with him be­cause it can­not be easy to deal with such a fa­mous and over­bear­ing fa­ther.”

Schnauss, though, feels that the fans are at least pre­pared to give the new Tan­ger­ine Dream a chance. “All we ask is that they lis­ten to what we are do­ing with open minds and then make their choice. If they don’t want to lis­ten to any­thing more that we do, then that’s fair enough. But I re­ally do be­lieve that fans of the band will en­joy what we are striv­ing to achieve. And so far, the re­ac­tion to the new Par­ti­cles re­lease, and also to our live shows, has been very pos­i­tive.”

The new record is the lat­est in the on­go­ing Quan­tum Years se­ries, which started in 2014 with Mala Ku­nia. But de­spite be­ing a dou­ble CD, the band – who also fea­ture Hoshiko Yamane, who joined in 2011 – don’t see it as ei­ther an al­bum or an EP. “Edgar never liked the idea of our mu­sic be­ing avail­able on what would be con­ven­tion­ally called an al­bum or EP,” says Quaeschning. “He called all of them ‘cap­tives’, and they should last as long as it took to drink a cup of cof­fee. Mind you, in some cases, it was more than one cup, but the prin­ci­ple re­mains the same! I would think you’d get through three cups of cof­fee when lis­ten­ing to Par­ti­cles.”

Of real in­ter­est on this new record is a cover of the theme from the suc­cess­ful Stranger Things TV se­ries, which last year brought Tan­ger­ine Dream’s in­flu­ence to the fore. The theme’s com­posers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of elec­tronic band SURVIVE, have cited the Ger­man band as a ma­jor in­spi­ra­tion.

“What hap­pened was that we were be­tween gigs in Ger­many and Switzer­land,” re­veals Schnauss. “We were stuck on the tour bus with very lit­tle to do, so we de­cided to watch the whole of Stranger Things in one go. And it be­came ob­vi­ous to us that the mu­sic had a lot of Tan­ger­ine Dream in there. And then Thorsten sud­denly said, ‘It’s like be­ing in a space-time con­tin­uum, isn’t it? So why don’t we do our own ver­sion of this mu­sic?’ That was it. We both agreed we should give it a go.

“We ac­tu­ally did two ver­sions of the theme: one had a glitch in it, but we de­cided to re­lease that on our SoundCloud page.”

So far, there’s been no feed­back from the com­posers as to their opin­ion of the Dream in­ter­pre­ta­tion. “We know of

SURVIVE ,” Quaeschning says, “but we don’t ac­tu­ally know them. We feel our ver­sion is in the Tan­ger­ine Dream style, but pays re­spect to the orig­i­nal. I hope they’d agree with us.”

You might have also ex­pected the band to have done an up­dated ren­di­tion of their own 1981 track Exit, which was fea­tured in episode six of the se­ries. How­ever, they de­cided against do­ing this.

“We might think about it at a later date,” says Quaeschning. “But we would have to work out the best way to tackle it. Just do­ing a com­po­si­tion for its own sake is not our style. We have to think very care­fully about the way in which we take iconic songs from our past and bring them up to date. We are all aware of how much they mean to the fans – and also to us.”

Par­ti­cles has one new com­po­si­tion, 4:00pm – Ses­sion, a new stu­dio ren­der­ing of Ruby­con, plus per­for­mances of sev­eral renowned songs that were cap­tured live in Ger­many last Septem­ber. But while it’s def­i­nitely seen as part of the Quan­tum Years project, there’s also a feel­ing that it’s a hold­ing op­er­a­tion, and might have been cathar­tic, let­ting the band record with­out Froese for the first time.

“In some ways, it was easy to get into the stu­dio and record,” re­veals Schnauss. “But that was on the tech­ni­cal level, where all we were do­ing was what came nat­u­rally to us. But there was also the emo­tional side to deal with, and that was tougher. You al­ways think Edgar would be there to guide things, and when we re­alised that wasn’t the case, it was a blow. But I feel hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to get this out of our sys­tem, it made things a lit­tle more com­fort­able for the Quan­tum Gate ses­sions.”

The whole con­cept of Quan­tum Years is very much the brain­child of Froese, and Quaeschning is the first to ad­mit that he has

a lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of what’s in­volved. “I don’t know much about quan­tum physics. It was an area that Edgar loved and knew a lot about. What quan­tum physics does is play with our ideas of re­al­ity. The way in which we per­ceive time and its pass­ing is al­tered com­pletely.

“Edgar was fas­ci­nated with what that meant. He was al­ways look­ing for ideas to dis­tort the way in which we look at our own re­al­ity, and this was what drove his vi­sion for Quan­tum Years. So it’s very much his project, and most of what we’re do­ing is based on sketches and mu­sic he has left us. Edgar had worked out so much of this in ad­vance, and it will carry on for a while yet.”

Most of Quan­tum Gate was done at Froese’s own stu­dio in Aus­tria, and this helped to give the band a feel­ing of hav­ing the man him­self with them. “There were a lot of oc­ca­sions when I was work­ing out ideas in a room right next to the one where he’d have been busy were he still alive,” re­calls Schnauss. “It was al­most eerie, but you could hon­estly al­most touch his pres­ence, and be­cause a lot of what we have done is based on rough mu­sic he had al­ready sketched out, when you lis­ten to this, it will re­mind you of Edgar.”

“I would say that a third to a half of what we’ve cap­tured for Quan­tum Gate is down to what Edgar has left be­hind,” adds Quaeschning. “Ob­vi­ously, the three of us who’ve been record­ing it have added in our own ideas, but for this one, Edgar is def­i­nitely a gi­ant pres­ence.”

On both Par­ti­cles and Quan­tum Gate, the band have made a choice to go back to an ear­lier pe­riod in their band’s evo­lu­tion.

“Edgar wanted us to re­turn to an era when the se­quencers and the elec­tron­ics were more to the fore than has been the case for some while,” says Schnauss. “What we’ve done is, in one way, go back­wards. But we are not do­ing it in any retro sense. We are tak­ing on board the way tech­nol­ogy has moved for­ward and used this to come up with sounds which are very con­tem­po­rary.”

“Tan­ger­ine Dream have al­ways been at the cut­ting edge of tech­nol­ogy when it comes to de­vel­op­ing our mu­sic,” in­sists Quaeschning. “All we are now do­ing is re­turn­ing to a time when this was the way we worked – and it was what made the band’s rep­u­ta­tion in the first place. We also love be­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tional. There’s not much of this to be heard on Par­ti­cles, but when you lis­ten to Quan­tum Gate, you’ll un­der­stand this has be­come part of our ap­proach again. It’s the way Edgar saw us de­vel­op­ing, by tak­ing el­e­ments from the past and making them work in the 21st cen­tury.”

This year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of one of the most im­por­tant bands in prog his­tory. But, in a twist to tra­di­tion, Tan­ger­ine Dream have cho­sen not to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion by vis­it­ing the past, but by look­ing ahead.

“We’ve had a lot of de­lays on get­ting this al­bum fin­ished,” ex­plains Quaeschning. “There has been a lot of to­ing and fro­ing try­ing to get things recorded, mixed and edited. And in the end we felt there was a need to set a dead­line, and to lock in a re­lease date. So we’ve gone for Septem­ber 29 – it’s lit­er­ally the 50th an­niver­sary of when Edgar started the band. It’s a Tan­ger­ine Dream way of not­ing the land­mark – not by look­ing back at what we’ve achieved, but for­ward to what we’ve yet to make hap­pen.”

The Quan­tum Years collection is on­go­ing. Nei­ther Schnauss nor Quaeschning can of­fer any no­tion of how long this part of the Dream se­quence will con­tinue, but both are com­mit­ted to tak­ing it to a log­i­cal con­clu­sion.

“Edgar wanted us to see this through,” says the for­mer, “and we will cer­tainly do that. It might lead to an­other eight re­leases, I don’t know. We will carry on un­til it’s felt there are no other ar­eas of Edgar’s vi­sion on this con­cept which have to be ex­plored.”

And Froese con­tin­ues to guide the band through all of the myr­iad notes and ideas he left be­hind.

“I am still go­ing through so much stuff he has left for us,” con­cludes Quaeschning. “He has ideas for songti­tles, for al­bum ti­tles and the way things should be pieced to­gether. Some are in such a prim­i­tive state that I don’t want to put them into the pub­lic do­main as yet. But we owe it to his mem­ory and in­spi­ra­tion to make it all hap­pen. It’s a very im­por­tant and de­ci­sive era for all of us.”

“Edgar wanted us to see this through, and we will cer­tainly do that. It might lead to an­other eight re­leases, I don’t know. We will carry on un­til it’s felt there are no other ar­eas of Edgar’s vi­sion on this con­cept which have to be ex­plored.”

GUIDING LIGHT: EDGAR FROESE, STILL OVERSEEING THE QUAN­TUM YEARS PROJECT. ABOVE LEFT, FROM TOP: THE MALA KU­NIA, PAR­TI­CLES AND QUAN­TUM GATE AL­BUMS.

TANG-GO: THE DREAM TEAM,

NOW CON­TIN­U­ING AS A TRIO.

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