Tangerine Dream has evolved into something far more than just a band. From their beginnings in the late 60s as a German experimental electronic band to their meditative album side excursions in the 70s to the go-to soundtrack creators of the 80s, Tangerine Dream has seen evolution after evolution of sound, style, and mood.
The one constant in Tangerine Dream’s long musical history had been its creative center and founder Edgar Froese. He led the band from its inception in 1967 until his death in January of 2015. He surrounded himself with like-minded and equally impressive musicians to help steer his vision of the band. At the time of his passing the band consisted of Froese, Thorsten Quaeshing, Hoshiko Yamane, and Ulrich Schnauss.
In 2017 Tangerine Dream released their first album since Froese’s passing, Quantum Gate. Quaeschning, Yamane, and Schnauss took tracks from Froese’s vault of unreleased music and turned them into a vital new era of Tangerine Dream. Five years later Ulrich Schnauss has moven on from TD(replaced by Paul Frick) and we now have Raum. Continuing to evolve song ideas from the late Froese, Raum sounds like a new beginning for the Krautrock titans. With Quaeschning and Yamane at the helm, it seems Tangerine Dream can transcend, space, time, and even death at this point.
Tangerine Dream’s sound continues to evolve here. There’s more melody and less space drifts. “Continuum” feels full of heart and romanticism, conveying and almost wide-eyed wonderin the arpeggiated synth notes and rhythmic backbone. The sound has gone back to the more emotional and synth-heavy style of their late-70s output, as opposed the midi-heavy new-agey sound that came in the 90s and beyond.
We do have some long form tracks that want to take us on a music journey, like the nearly 20-minute “In 256 Leichen”. I imagine laying back at the Adler Planetarium on the shores of Lake Michigan watching the sky show as this plays. Vast and all-encompassing. Or title track “Raum” and its 15-minutes of slow build to what sounds like a race through time an space. It’s as much Blade Runner as it is Firestarter.
As a whole, though, Raum feels very much interested in melody and emotional connectivity. This is a new Tangerine Dream. One that transcends all eras of the band and becomes something new. Edgar Froese still lives within the songs, giving a nod of approval behind stacks of analog machines. I’m sure of it.