Tangerine Dream
The Seven Letters From Tibet


4.5
superb

Review

by Daniel Incognito EMERITUS
March 27th, 2006 | 5 replies | 9,924 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


Tangerine Dreams work has always been high in meaning and sub-text. Their studio albums have often focused on space and the world around us, with albums like Phaedra, Alpha Centurai and Zeit all creating their own unique subconscious worlds. In the 90s Tangerine Dream somewhat lost sight of those intricate themes, opting for less complex melodies and insistent percussive beats. Unfortunately their decade long experiment didn't produce many aces with only a few notable albums like Transsiberia and Tournado. However the turn of the century in the Gregorian calendar brought about a whole new level of spiritualism for Tangerine Dream and an escape from driving percussion. Albums such as Mota Atma (Atma meaning the spirit and Mota referring to the Indian spiritual leader Pujya Mota), Inferno and Puragtorio all have heavy new-age spiritualistic leanings. [i]Inferno and Puragtori are based purely on the 14th century epic literary piece, la Divina Commedia by Italian poet Dante Alighieri.

Although Tangerine Dream have professed to hate the term new-age; The Seven Letters From Tibet could be easily considered under this broad term. The entire album centres on the number 7 and the spirituality involving it. The theosophical idea of the septenary (which claims that the universe is ordered by the number seven) can be found ingrained throughout this album. The Seven Letters From Tibet contains seven songs, which are named after the seven colours of the rainbow (Although yellow and violet are referred to as Gold and purple). The other half of the song names refers to the Septenary idea that human nature consists of seven principles; the physical body - blood, the phantom body - breath, the life principle - heart, the desire form - land, the ordinary mind which attaches itself to desire - pearl, the spiritual soul - clouds and the one with absolute - all curtains. It is easy to draw readings from the music and the album itself; however Tangerine Dream does not try to force any ideals onto the listener, venerating the themes in a subtle style that allows listeners to draw their own conclusions.

Structurally The Seven Letters From Tibet most closely resembles typical Classical music, with the album separated into different movements that all contribute to the same theme. However neither the instruments nor the sound can be classified as Classical. The two primary instruments used are the keyboards of Edgar Froese and his son Jerome Froese with a mix of other sampled sounds, mostly orthodox Asian flutes and string instruments. Percussion is practically a no-show on The Seven Letters From Tibet with only brief and smothered appearances made. This only adds to the overall meditative effect. At times The Seven Letters From Tibet tries to soothe the listener with ethereal washes, sonorous keyboard notes that sound like choral voices and delicate Asian string instruments, as perfected in The Orange Breath. Yet at times the album is quite dense in sound, with much deeper overcast tones like in the opening Red Blood Connection.

The album delves into a very mystical and fantasy like feel later on in The Green Land and The Golden Heart. Yet somehow that touching atmospheric sound is not lost. A piano solo is enshrouded in the middle of The Green Land in a simple but earnest form accompanied by dreamlike synthesized voices. Tangerine Dreams perfection of transitions shines through in The Green Land and The Blue Pearl, with the music flowing down to its end like a river down to the ocean.

It could be contested that The Seven Letters From Tibet is highly pretentious, only offering its full experience to those of a certain intelligence. Of course this could be said of most Tangerine Dream albums, and the passionate few from both sides of the fence will not change their opinions based on The Seven Letters From Tibet.

For those looking for an experience similar to Phaedra, none of the songs really compare on their own to its otherworldly journey. The Indigo Clouds comes close though, starting out with a clear tribal feel with hushed tribal drums and forest like echoes. This is then broken up by sharp clashes and a heightened sense of alert. The discord slowly fades back into a meditative state using soothing choral voices and euphoric washes harmonized together. As a whole, The Seven Letters From Tibet grazes Phaedra at its top spot, producing its own unique world that inevitably falls just short of Phaedra's spontaneous genius.

The Seven Letters From Tibet is easily one of Tangerine Dreams most powerful albums, both emotionally and spiritually. Like many other Tangerine Dream albums, The Seven Letters From Tibet is a magnificent meditative experience, blending natural and digital sounds together to produce a soft but well defined journey. There is quite clearly a spiritual element to The Seven Letters From Tibet. However the spiritual message is not forced upon the listener. But rather the listener is given the freedom to interpret the music as they wish. The Seven Letters From Tibet was a complete u-turn on the formula that Tangerine Dream had fallen into, making it the shining light at the end of a desolate 90s tunnel.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
March 27th 2006



2647 Comments


I need to get this. I love Tangerine Dream so this is probably a must have for fans.
Great review as usual. It's nice to see that you shortened the length of the review.

pulseczar
March 27th 2006



2385 Comments


Quality work, Liberi. I've listened to some Tangerine Dream, but not enough! I need to download Phaedra or this, I like ohter Krautrock/Prog Electronic bands a lot.

morrissey
Moderator
March 28th 2006



1688 Comments


I really like how the album seems so well-thought out in terms of theme and outlay. It is appealing when a band puts so much effort and detail into aspects on top of the music itself. And it does sound like it would provide an interesting spiritual journey for the listener. Of course, I haven't heard it so these comments are based purely on your review.
Which was excellent as usual. A bit easier to digest than your Final Fantasy review, hah. I say this all the time but it is great to see you reviewing more and more, someone has to do all these ambient bands and video game soundtracks.


Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
March 29th 2006



1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I need to get this. I love Tangerine Dream so this is probably a must have for fans.

Why haven't you done a review of a TD album aye aye? :p
Chop chop, I can't review all 100+ albums of theres on my own you know.

I'm downloading this now. Yay for piracy.

Any comments after hearing it?
Quality work, Liberi. I've listened to some Tangerine Dream, but not enough! I need to download Phaedra or this, I like ohter Krautrock/Prog Electronic bands a lot.

Get Phaedra first.
someone has to do all these ambient bands and video game soundtracks.

I review all that nerdy crap so nobody else has to.
This Message Edited On 03.29.06

Kaleid
December 23rd 2006



710 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is great. I'd only really got their 80's stuff until this. I liked the stuff they did for 'Legend'
TD are very underratedThis Message Edited On 02.26.07



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