[Review] Tangerine Dream: White Eagle (1982)

Tangerine Dream continues to shift from amorphous tone poems to modern assembly-line music while still delivering a quality product.

Kronomyth 16.0: Dreamwerks.

The opening minutes of “Mojave Plan” sound like the score to an imaginary horror movie. It’s a terrifying introduction to what turns out to be a remarkably accessible album of streamlined (by Tangerine Dream’s usual standards) synthesizer music. White Eagle has never been one of my favorite TD albums for the reason that it seems superficial; all of the action and melody take place on the surface, without the deep undercurrents that ran through works like Phaedra and Force Majeure. In fact, the music isn’t that much different from what Kraftwerk, Ultravox and other non-symphonic electronic bands (I’ve always viewed the early TD albums as tone poems) were making at the time. The influence of Johannes Schmoelling (sounds like “bowling”) seems more pronounced on this album, since I usually credit him with the smattering of strange and decidedly modern sounds that drift in and out of the music. The herky-jerky “Midnight In Tula” (shades of Devo) is especially atypical for a band that until recently seemed as predictable as rain in April.

Over the years, I’ve returned to White Eagle often as a vacation from some of their heavier works. Fans of the Dream’s classic period may not view White Eagle as an essential purchase (or much of anything after 1980), but those more interested in stimulation than meditation will appreciate the Schmoelling years, as the band developed a certain compactness coupled with fresh sounds that suit shorter attention spans (the side-long “Mojave Plan” actually functions as four separate songs). I own the 1994 definitive edition remaster and it sounds fantastic; the liner notes are on the skimpy side, but the disc is shiny and blue, which counts for something.

Original LP Version

A1. Mojave Plan (Johannes Schmoelling/Chris Franke/Edgar Froese) (20:06)
B1. Midnight In Tula (Chris Franke/Edgar Froese/Johannes Schmoelling) (3:59)
B2. Convention of the 24 (Chris Franke/Edgar Froese/Johannes Schmoelling) (9:35)
B3. White Eagle (Johannes Schmoelling/Edgar Froese/Chris Franke) (4:34)

The Players

Chris Franke, Edgar Froese, Johannes Schmoelling. Produced by Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Johannes Schmoelling.

The Pictures

Sleeve design by Edgar and Monique Froese.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in March 1982 in France, Germany and the Netherlands (Virgin, 204/404 563), the UK (Virgin, V/VC 2226), Canada (Virgin, VL/VL4-2235), Japan (Virgin, VIP-6994), New Zealand (TCV 2226) and Spain (Virgin, I-202.563/D-404.563); reached #57 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1984 in the UK (Virgin, CDV 2226).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1985 in the UK (Virgin, OVED 150).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1994 in the UK (Virgin, TAND2) and in May 1994 in the US (Virgin, 39444-2).

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