BY KYLE VAN DEN HEUVEL
On Jan. 20, Edgar Froese, the front man for the band Tangerine Dream, passed away due to a pulmonary embolism at the age of 70. Tangerine Dream might not be a mainstream band, but even if you have not directly heard of the band, you probably have either heard their songs or something inspired by them. The band was founded in West Germany in 1967 and was one of the first bands to make full use of synthesizers in order to make music. While their music was good from the start, they earned their reputation as pioneers of the electronic music genre with their 1974 album “Phaedra.” The album was unlike most others, as, rather than having nine or ten short tracks on an album, “Phaedra” had only four tracks each around 15 minutes in length. These tracks were ambient masterpieces that painted pictures of space and alien environments in your mind. As Tangerine Dream went on, their style adapted to the growing technology of the times as well as the instruments used. Recent Tangerine Dream albums have taken some influence from modern techno music while still keeping the ambient atmosphere.
The ambient nature of Tangerine Dream made them a great band to go to for movie soundtracks, and they did their fair share of them. The most famous of these soundtracks would be the ones for “Risky Business,” “Thief,” “Legend” and “Sorcerer.” While “Risky Business” was more famous music-wise for one infamous and often-parodied scene using Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” the songs “Lana” and “Love on a Real Train” cement the film’s 1980s atmosphere with an awesome mix of synth and rock. The “Thief” soundtrack was also notable as it was the backdrop to Michael Mann’s directorial debut. Most recently, though, Tangerine Dream would be known for providing the score for the video game “Grand Theft Auto V.” Their score for that game brings the theme of Michael being an older criminal from the 80s getting back into a life of crime home and complements his love for 80s action movies.
Tangerine Dream and Edgar Froese had a profound influence on music; many musicians became inspired by their work. The release of “Phaedra” was influential enough that it spawned the Berlin school of electronic music that included musicians like Klaus Schulze and Manuel Gottsching. Recently, Tangerine Dream teamed up with Queen’s Brian May to produce the album “Starmus–Sonic Universe,” as Brian May and Edgar Froese have been long-time friends. Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters expressed on Twitter that Edgar Froese’s music was always an inspiration for him and that he will dedicate his first film score to him.
Recently, Froese finished work on an autobiography named “Tangerine Dream–Force Majeure: 1967-2014” which will release at some point this year. Tangerine Dream’s music has been archived into compilations over the years, so it is easy to get large amounts of their music in single sets. The best compilation would probably be “The Virgin Years: 1974-1978,” which contains five of their best albums. “Underwater Twilight” also has some of their best music from the 80s and is a great introduction to Tangerine Dream. Even though he is no longer with us, Edgar Froese left an amazing legacy and will be remembered as a cornerstone of electronic music.