Saturday, 15 October 2011

Tangerine Dream: Tyger

Some 25 years prior to the band's initiation of the Eastgate Sonic Poem series with 'The Island Of The Fay,' reviewed here, came the release of 'Tyger,' an album typical of their 80's output in style but featuring a brief foray into vocal melodies, courtesy of singer Jocelyn Bernadette Smith. This release takes as its inspiration selected William Blake poetry, specifically "The Tyger", "Smile", "America", "The Fly", and "London".
Tangerine Dream: Tyger
Tyger - Tangerine Dream

The album begins with 'Tyger,' perhaps some of the most accomplished writing in the album, drawing upon 80's production and musical aesthetics within the context of their own style which many fans will enjoy. In contrast to their more recent releases, this album focusses (as much of their 80's output does) on ethnic timbres and the creation of hybrid timbres which gave their releases at this time great sonic complexity ahead of many other artists in the field. This word music influence is of course unsurprising given the band's definition of an early New Age musical style.

Moving on to 'Alchemy Of The Heart,' the first instrumental track of the album, the writers combine various sequencer lines with sampled harpsichord writing and drum machine lines. Given the virtue of hindsight, it is very interesting to hear the elements which now underpin the band's music in an early form. In the track's mid section, the band utilise moving baselines aside long running sequences to create highly interesting patterns which sound equally at home in the context of their contemporary music (referring to the inclusion of 'Alchemy Of The Heart' in the set list for Tangerine Dream's recent Zeitgeist tour).




'Smile' sees a return to song writing, beginning with various sequences before Jocelyn Bernadette Smith enters powerfully. Particularly strong is the harmonic progressions in this piece. The usage of song format for the band suits their style in this regard as it accommodates the long repeated harmonic structures well. From a musicological point of view, the changes of metre in this track and the song's structure prove particularly interesting. For the listener, these smaller details may not be audible yet they add a great deal of interest to the music.

The 1987 release reviewed here ends with '21st Common Man,' a two part composition which exemplifies some of the most intriguing tambral aspects of the album. Listeners of the 1992 release will find an additional track 'Vigour' concludes the album. 21st Common Man provides an appropriate end to the album in a New Age style of writing embellished with instrumental solos which typified earlier writing. Overall, this album proves a highlight of the band's accomplished catalogue of works.
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