Tangerine Dream: Phaedra (1974)

Phaedra is considered by many to be the band’s magnum opus. The side-long title track is a high-water mark in electronic music: a tone poem for the postmodern age that could have come from the pages of Fantastic Journey, so equally intimate and alien is its effect. The piece begins as an amorphous cloud of energy, like a star in infancy, before heartbeat-like rhythms draw the listener along a path peopled by alien shapes that proceed from and recede again into the blackness. This is brilliant stuff: more than just music you can synchronize your lava lamp to. The second side of music features shorter pieces that are suitably restricted in scope and effect. “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” picks up where the title track leaves off: a mellotron sets the tone of religious solemnity, and is broadened and embellished, resulting in a standing study rather than a mind-expanding journey. “Movements of a Visionary” is tentative and eerie, grounded by a sped-up Jack-in-the-box effect and a handful of interesting sounds; listeners are likely to recognize the piece’s potential influence on the soundtrack music to the “Friday the 13th” movies, which is unfortunate. The final “Sequent C” is a brief, airy piece led by Baumann’s flute. If but for the title track alone, Phaedra is required listening for fans of Tangerine Dream. The band is clearly in uncharted territory here, and the discoveries they make are fascinating if not revelatory.

Original LP Version
A1. Phaedra (Chris Franke/Edgar Froese/Peter Baumann)
B1. Mysterious Semblance At The Strand of Nightmares (Edgar Froese)
B2. Movements of a Visionary (Chris Franke/Edgar Froese/Peter Baumann)
B3. Sequent C’ (Peter Baumann)

The Players
Peter Baumann (organ, e-piano, VCS3 synth, flute), Chris Franke (Moog synthesizer, keyboards, VCS3 s.A), Edgar Froese (mellotron, guitar-bass, VCS3 synthi, organ). Produced by Edgar Froese; engineered by Phil Becque.

The Pictures
Cover painting and sleeve design by Edgar Froese.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette in February 1974 in Germany (Virgin, 87761IT), the UK and Israel (Virgin, V/VIC 2010), the US (Virgin, VR13-108), Australia (Festival, L 35138), Brazil (Phonogram, 912 4127), Canada (Virgin, V/TCV 2010) and France (Virgin, 2933 723) with gatefold cover; reached #15 on the UK charts and #196 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record). Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Virgin, OVED 25) and in March 1984 in the US (Virgin International, VI 2010). Re-issued on compact disc in the UK (Virgin, CDV 2010) and in 1985 in the US (Virgin, 86064-2) and in the US (Virgin, 90933-2). Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1995 in the UK (Virgin, TAND5), in 1995 in Germany (EMI, 840 062) and on July 26, 2004 in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-68667). Re-released on super audio compact disc in 2015 in Japan (Virgin, UIGY-9673).

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