Live Music Part Three : Tangerine Dream’s ‘Logos Live’

The first time I was ever aware of Tangerine Dream was watching Firestarter. Seeing the name in the opening credits captured my imagination. It’s such an evocative name, isn’t it? “Tangerine Dream”, It’s an abstract term, but pulls you into their world in just two words. It instantly made me think “Tangerine trees and marmalade skies”. It’s a name I would pay attention to from that point on, seeing it in some of my favorite movies of the 80s, like Three O’Clock High, After Dark, Legend, and Risky Business. Their hazy electronic music upped the game of any film, and could even make a so-so flick a pretty good flick. Or a pretty good flick a pretty great flick. Edgar Froese and whoever was playing with him at the time were masters of mood and vibe.

It took me quite a few years before I realized that Tangerine Dream were more than just a soundtrack band. They had this whole other music life filled with heady synth albums; album side tracks and deep dives into space drifts and meditative freakouts. It took a few years after that before I bought my first Tangerine Dream album, Tangram. Maybe it wasn’t the coolest place to start, but I loved it regardless. The purchase led to a full-on Froese mind melt that took up most of 2014. I snagged up all the 70s records, then worked my way into the soundtracks. It was a glorious time of gluttonous purchasing and mainlining TD right into my cerebral cortex.

One thing I never fell into was live Tangerine Dream albums. At the time I didn’t really understand what would be so exciting about a live album of three guys standing still in front of keyboards with maybe some weird visual behind them. This was a naive thing to think. When I started to deep dive into Tangerine Dream once again after the release of their last studio album post-Edgar Froese’s passing called Quantum Gate, I started watching live clips of the band and realized what an almost religious experience seeing them live was. It started with footage of the band playing in the early 70s at an abandoned church in Berlin. Playing all modular synths, the line up of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Peter Baumann sat in the front of the sanctuary of this ancient stone church like space shamans and played some serious Komische jams to a crowd of tripping German hippies. From there I watched whatever I could. I hit up Encore and Poland. And just recently I discovered the magic of Logos Live.

Logos Live is the amazing line up of Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Johannes Schmoelling, arguably their best line up of the 80s(though, Paul Haslinger added a modern feel to the band when he joined in 1985.) CD versions of the album breaks up tracks “Logos(Part 1)” and “Logos(Part 2)” into separate tracks, but on the vinyl cut they’re two long tracks with “Dominion” closing things out.

Recorded live at the Dominion Theater in London on November 6th, 1982, Logos Live shows a band transitioning from heady, deep dive album side tracks to shorter, pop-oriented work. It’s sort of this point in Tangerine Dream’s career where they turned a corner into the mainstream. After this live show Tangerine Dream would hit a streak of now classic soundtracks like Risky Business, Wavelength, Flashpoint, Firestarter, Heartbreakers, Legend, and even a television show theme song with “Le Parc” for the short-lived series Street Hawk.

But on this night in November of 1982, Tangerine Dream were in full on space drift mode.

The three-piece of Froese, Franke, and Schmoelling lead a crowd of mesmerized Londoners through the nearly 26-minute “Logos Part One” and the nearly 20-minute “Logos Part Two”. They cap off the record with almost 6-minute “Dominion”, a possible nod to the venue in which the magic was made? Set up on the London stage like three space wizards with their modular systems, Tangerine Dream sets the controls for heady vibes all around.

This recording captures the band at the height of their powers, combining both their headier 70s workouts and their progression into more pop-themed works. Both “Logos Part One” and “Logos Part Two” carry in them lightness and dark; moments of heavy synth workouts and ominous motifs, as well as lighter moments that raise the mood into higher altitudes.

While I love their Poland album, I think Logos Live captures some serious German magic. There’s something about this live recording that seems to encapsulate everything great, past and present, about Tangerine Dream. Drop the needle on Logos Live and take the wayback machine to London, November 6th 1982 and prepare to have your mind fully blown.

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