Tangerine Dream – Feature

Despite a 45-year career, Tangerine Dream are still a contemporary force in electronic music whether you like it or not. Edgar Froese is the genius behind the seminal act who has changed the face of ambient electronic music with his intelligent soundscapes, diligent work-rate and undying passion for creating music. We caught up with him ahead of their exclusive London show…


At the forefront of music technology alongside peers such as Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze and Neu, Tangerine Dream vastly moved forward electronic music. A lot of things have changed over the years since their beginning in 1967, but mastermind Edgar Froese is in no mood for reflecting on old glories. The 68-year-old is all about pushing his band of 45 years forward and into the depths of new sonic territory – there’s no easing the foot off the gas by any means. “I’m following a very strict process in life and work to become a reliable servant for the invisible power of sound and music,” Froese explains. “That’s simply all I have and I want to follow. Being in a communication process with the four basic parameters in music leaves absolutely no room for any silly mediocre speculations about other people’s taste, the money you earn, if your work might get rejected by critics or your little stupid emotional impressions giving birth to a sensational new musical landmark. That’s all rubbish and has nothing to do with the serious goal you have to go for.”

Remaining both modest and determined, Froese  focuses on what matters most to him; simply making music with no distractions. If people happen to enjoy his output, then that’s always a pleasurable result of his work. “The only way of reaching other people’s consciousness one way or another is being authentic,” he says. “Never say anything through your art form you can’t believe in yourself, because others would feel that you’re a liar or a true worker by fair means. So if you’ve left some marks within the world of music, it’s an honour that others can identify themselves with what has flooded your own human system.”

Obviously, Froese doesn’t have a specific goal when it comes to evoking his audience’s feelings, thoughts and experiences at a Tangerine Dream performance – that much is clear. He’s the conductor of the orchestra, the creator of soundscapes and his final product should be appreciated in however which way the individual feels. “If our music could work like a mind-cleaning machine this would be absolutely great,” he says. “Feeling something you’re not sure about is often quite fraudulent, so we’re careful when giving advice to others about what to feel.”

In the past, Tangerine Dream’s music has often been linked to hallucinogenic drug usage, despite the fact Froese has publicly said that he doesn’t do drugs. With his openness to the listener’s interpretations, does he care that the psychedelia of the 70s soon latched onto Tangerine Dream as the weed-smoker’s band? “You can’t do that much if people associate your work with drug use of any kind – it’s part of their view and consciousness,” he says. “Apart from some first time experiences in the early seventies, we never touched any kind of drugs. Drugs, so to say, are guiding you directly into slavery sooner are later. It is much better having the music transforming your life perspectives into new directions, rather than running more or less unconscious against your own walls of illusions and false dreams.”

Froese’s inspirations are still running strong without any chemically-induced trips or mind-altering episodes. Attempting to pin down the very stimulus of his creativity, Froese simply reverts back to what many artists state as their inspiration – ‘day-to-day experience’. “It sounds very simple and not very sensational, but finally, at the end of a day it’s what keeps you going,” he says. “It is true that our fans are participating on some of the inspiration that we have musically, but it’s a very true fact that we ourselves, are also climbing up our ladder of discernments and subjective experiences which are directly flowing into our compositions. Learning by doing, receiving and giving away, that’s our principle.”

It’s a process that continues today. Earlier in the year, they released the ‘Machu Picchu’ EP – another example of the electronic variety on offer from the German act. Froese is fascinated by the megalithic structures of the ancient Peruvian Machu Picchu site, but the initial reason for its titling is much more unexpected. “I always was a great admirer of the life and work of Mr John Peel who I had the honour to meet twice in my career,” Froese explains. “Apart from the help he gave us by playing Tangerine Dream on his BBC show, he was also a very authentic and straight forward person with a musical taste that has formed thousands of people’s musical taste. As he died in the city of Cusco near Machu Picchu, I thought about sending him some greetings to his ‘new address’. It did take a while till it happened – but now there’s a little musical postcard to John, from universe to universe.”

The sentiment is a beautiful and commendable one for such an influential character in music who gave Tangerine Dream their first serious piece of exposure when he named ‘Atem’ his album of the year in 1973. But besides Froese’s tribute to the late great radio DJ, Maccu Picchu is a place that still captures his imagination. “Those places, like the Cheops or some of the Maya sanctuaries, are mostly described as historic places with an inheritance just a few people can or want to identify seriously,” Froese says. “The true world of the Inca and Maya tribe had very little to do with the world we call ‘reality’ today. They knew so much more about the world and mankind behind the ‘veil’, that it would take hundreds of interviews like this to even touch the base of their spiritual world and holy perception.”

It’s an expansive subject that significantly dwarfs the 45-year history of Tangerine Dream. But after 93 studio albums, 32 soundtrack records and 10 EP’s among other material, can the long-standing legendary musician say he has any regrets? “No, definitely not, because everything I did was created out of my very limited system of human perception,” he says. “If there would have been a better way of reacting to my little world, I would have done it.  So, as there is no way of going back to change things for a better result, it’s just a waste of time to lament about some mistakes you’ve made.  And there – very obviously – have been mistakes.”



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