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exploratory probe spinning through distant galaxies, Tangerine Dream
have created an illusory vision that has influenced many while
continuing to rove and create. Their latest, Goblin's Club, bears
the trademark Tangerine Dream ambience, but with updated sonics,
percussion, guitar and snippets of world beat vocals.
"It's just a different feel now," says Froese, preparing for another tour from his Austrian studio. "Through the years we've tried to do something that gives a new kick in the way of recording things or using new technology. Whatever you can put your hands on that hasn't been used heavily before and opens new doors to the music...that has always been something we saw as a challenge."
Known in the early days for his pioneering work with synthesizers and self-made instruments (like a '60s era Aphex Twin, perhaps?), Froese stood alongside the birth of the sampler, which has forged the current electro revolution. Goblin's Club contains some 1,700 sampled sounds, but was actually composed on a transatlantic flight between Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Froese now sees his own ideas spun back at him.
"In the early days there were no instruments around that could repeat sounds," he explains. "We worked with echo loops and Revox tape machines. We copied events dozens of times to get repeating rhythms. We tried to use everything that gave us the challenge of making new sounds.
"The strangest thing we've sampled lately was in an old military camp in Berlin. When you flushed the toilet on the third floor the water ran down through a huge vault used by the army. When the water fell it gave an enormous swooshing sound. We used that on several records, filtering it and making rhythms out if it. For years we were running around places with microphones and tape machines trying to get as many sounds as possible for our records."
On Goblin's Club you can hear the influence of classical music and the French surrealism that imbued Froese's early work. An admirer of Bach and the painter Salvador Dali, whom he studied under, Froese has now abandoned the piano and the easel for the sampler and the computer. Art remains art, only the tools change.
"The computer is nothing new and nothing less than an extension of mental activities or a way you try to compose. You can be very fast and orchestrate things which are not possible by playing a piano or guitar. There is nothing sensational about it anymore. Everybody does it today."
As a student of Dali, Froese witnessed bizarre concerts given on enormous plastic eggshells upturned in a lake, just one of the methods the painter used to distort reality. Froese uses similar methods today when searching for inspiration. His reality is a subjective plain.
"As a sculpture student I got to see Dali a couple times in the north of Spain. I watched him working and performing live, I learned a lot. One of his focus points was to put things upside down. He never left anything the way it was. Whatever he touched he changed into something else just to make sure that people were aware of what's being called reality. So reality is not reality as it is or as it was or as it will be. Reality is what you make out of it. I guess you can transfer that into music and every other art form."
Froese combines unusual imagery in his compositions, an outgrowth of his art training and the psychedelic fervor that enlivened the '60s Zeitgeist. Back then, long rehearsals might yield a few compositions. Now, with MIDI keyboards and laptop computers, Froese composes anywhere the fancy hits him. The very name Tangerine Dream makes the brain work a bit, forcing you reconsider reality in a left-brain centered workout.
"I always hear music--my problem is getting it started into something." Froese's voice glistens with frustration. "The sound and rhythms I hear are so strange, I'm never able to cover it the way I hear it. That is why I'm searching for something new that gets close to what I hear. If I tell you about blue metal, it doesn't mean anything to you, but I hear it. What's blue metal? What's iron wood? What's a gold cloud? There is no other way of describing what I hear. That's the way you hunt for new sounds, new instruments, new rhythms. But you can't drift away too far so other people can't follow you anymore. That's the other problem."
Froese still works on multiple projects and new ideas. He tours
ceaselessly, records every year and composes at will. Plans include a
"new kind" of opera for the Sydney Opera House, and recording an entire
album on mogul Richard Branson's Virgin airlines.
While most artists lose the creative drive in their 40s, Froese remains sharp and prolific. But can he break new ground in a field populated by young innovators?
"I always feel each record is the last one of the old period. Now we can see a bright future, look to something that hasn't been here before. Music has not even started. We haven't discovered five percent of what is possible in music. There is so much more to do. We should all work as hard as we can to find something new. There is a very bright horizon of new possibilities. It's not all discovered as most people think. It's endless. What's avant garde today can be a hit tomorrow."
LAUNCHonline | 1996