Review Summary: 40 years later, Tangerine Dream’s sound holds up
In 1971, cigarettes were 38 cents a pack, Bob Dylan was still in his twenties, and the internet was 25 years away. England had begun its recovery from Beatlemania, Americans were still celebrating the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and fans of the New York Knicks were excited that for the second time in almost 15 years, the NBA champions were someone other than the Boston Celtics. When the Mini-Moog was released by Moog Music just 1 year earlier, not many people took notice. But for a small group of aspiring musicians, its position as one of the first widely available, portable and affordable synthesizers gave them the ability to make music in a whole new way.
, Tangerine Dream
stood among those who pioneered ways to use these new sounds to create music never heard before. With no one else to look back on for help, they managed carefully arranged and orchestrated ensemble productions that would run around inside listeners’ heads. Lulling you into submission before alarming you, their music manages to flirt tantalizingly, creating responses and impulses wholly different from anything ever experienced before.
Listening to 'Alpha Centauri' recalls an entire spectrum of emotion. Equal parts serenity and anxiety, this is an album so subtle that it can make your entire mood shift minutes before you can trace the cause back to the rising beat. When paying careful attention, however, it is easy to feel the synthesizers run wild within us and take us on an electronic journey through undiscovered terrain. Our bodies adapt to the powerful and still futuristic world lain in front of us as our mind battles against the eeriness it struggles to fully understand. And as we listen deeper and deeper, as our very being becomes shifted by what we hear, the aura of exploring the abyss never leaves.
So as the 'Sunrise in the Third System' comforts us, as the 'Fly and Collision of Comas Sola' screams at us, and as the decadent 'Alpha Centauri' has its way with us, it is as if Tangerine Dream is standing in front of us on full display. Their voice is not muffled or out of touch but stands strong even as we journey further into the 21st century. For an album whose greatest fault is that it falls just short of what the band would soon achieve, the sharp and gorgeous ‘Alpha Centauri’ remains a recommended listen to any and all those who are ready for an incredible voyage through the origins of electronic music.