Review by Tim Darbyshire
Following the untimely death of Tangerine Dream founder Edgar Froese in 2015, this release harks back to the golden era of 1970s improvised electronic music
This 4 cd clamshell box set from Esoteric (Reactive) is the first in a series of official releases and captures German Electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream at their creative peak, featuring two concert recordings made at Reims Cathedral, France in December 1974 and at the Mozarthalle, Mannheim, Germany in October 1976.
Although not officially released before, both recordings were available as part of the Tangerine Tree project. Tangerine Tree was a fan co-ordinated internet project from 2002 through 2006 that was dedicated to the collection, preservation and distribution of unreleased concerts and other Tangerine Dream audio material. This project was approved by Tangerine Dream as long as it remained a strict non-profit trading group. Reims was released as Tangerine Tree Volume 30 and Mannheim was released as Tangerine Tree Vol 13.
Esoteric claim “This official 4CD clamshell boxed set has been re-mastered from the best available sources”, I imagine that means the Tangerine Tree versions. No griping here from me though, it’s always good to have factory pressed cds ahead of less reliable cd-rs, and these do sound really good if you appreciate what they are.
Esoteric should be applauded for putting out this material, let’s face it, it’s only going to attract die-hard fans of the band. Like any band who have produced music over nearly half a century, their output is going to vary immensely. For me, the Virgin years period (1973-1983) is the best, more specifically 1974-1978. During this time, TD’s live concerts were mostly improvised leading to some very interesting and often magical results.
The Reims Cathedral gig is a legendary part of TD’s history. After the gig, the Pope banned the band from ever playing in cathedrals again due to the behaviour of the audience – but this didn’t seem to affect TD as they played York Minster, Coventry Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral in 1975.
The music in Reims is pretty calm, less sequencer work which came to dominate the band’s sound around the mid 70s. Mannheim is more typical of the time, with the big Moog chattering away…..
The clamshell box is well built, the box contains the 4 cds in slipcases, a two-sided colour replication poster for the Reims gig (although one of the photos used is from 1976) and a booklet containing press reviews, photos and a brand new interesting essay. For example I didn’t realise TD played the first set, then Nico played hers before TD returned for their second set. One minor point – the Esoteric website blurb states ‘over 4 hours of music’, the actual running time is closer to 2 and a half.
Volume 2 in this welcome series is released January 2016, with concerts from Paris in 1978 and East Berlin 1980.