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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tangerine Dream


Review by Gary Hill

This disc from Tangerine Dream is quite an intriguing one. It's definitely different from a lot of the catalog. For starters, it's based on the works of William Blake. Perhaps more interestingly, several of the songs have vocals. The lyrics are all taken directly from Blake's poems, and the vocals are handled by Jocelyn Bernadette Smith, who speaks some of them and sings some. I find this to be quite an enjoyable disc, and a great addition to the Tangerine Dream catalog.

Note that I've done this review as an individual retro review here, but it's actually part of a brand new box set that I've also reviewed for this issue. This review is included in that one.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Slow moving, delicate musical elements bring this into being. A female spoken vocal comes over the top, reciting the poem that inspired the song. Those vocals start singing the poem after the first part. This is an intriguing piece that has a soulful element from the vocal delivery, but an electronic classical structure from the musical elements.
As strong as the opener was, this really raises the bar dramatically. There is an edgy, powerful concept to the spoken section at the start. The music and the vocal delivery really drive that home. This works through a number of changes, but remains quite cinematic and intriguing as it does. Later in the piece, guitar rises up and drives this in some seriously rocking directions. At close to 14-and-a-half minutes, this is the epic of the disc. It's also one of the real highlights here. There is so much diversity to it/ There are also so many powerful passages.
Alchemy of the Heart
I love the harpsichord type tones on the opening movement of this. The track has some great intricacies and grows quite well as it works its way forward. The cut changes directions after the three-minute mark (this is over twelve minutes long) to a powerful, driving electronic prog movement with dramatic classical music built into it. After the six-minute mark, the cut shifts to a mellower movement, but electric guitar rises up from that tapestry at times. That doesn't stay around long, though. Instead, this focuses on powerful keyboard textures with some sound effects and other things dancing over the top. Piano creates some great melodies on the closing movement.
Driving, fast paced keyboard textures bring this into being and drive it forward. The vocals return on this number. They aren't as effective here as they were on the first two songs, though. Still, this more "song-like" arrangement works pretty well.
21st Century Common Man (Part One)
I like this a lot. It's sort of the typical thing you expect for a fast paced electronic number, but there's nothing wrong with typical by any means. It has some interesting shifts and changes and really works well. After working through with a growing process that is solid, the number drops back to much mellower sounds to eventually close.
21st Century Common Man (Part Two).
A funky bass sound that calls to mind Tony Levin's work in King Crimson opens this. The cut grows outward building upon that with some serious class and style. This is one of my favorite piece on the disc. It has cool melodic elements while really driving with a great electronic vibe.


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