BY EDGAR FROESE
The majority of books dealing with
biographies, are something that leaves a lot to be desired. It's always about
the fans and their look at some kind of hero, that we're supposed to appreciate
and appease in every way possible to maintain their fame. One rarely finds out a
whole lot about the person themselves, and, in the end, some of these books are
not always satisfactory.
It's not always that we find something that, in many ways, is quite different, and this time it is told from Edgar Froese's point of view, and how he saw things, rather than some idealistic thoughts and views about life that gave them the stardom they gained.
Edgar's view is highly different from many folks, as it is not necessarily about the music, but about the art itself that helps create the music. This is very difficult for most fans, that often simply like the tunes and otherwise could be said to not have any other appreciation for the work itself. By the end of the book, you understand the process which this band used for a long time to create a lot of special albums of music that is still being released a few years after he left us for his new cosmic address.
Discussing, what many would consider an imaginary process to create some art, is difficult, as a lot of times, there are no words for those inner feelings, and one has to find a way to that "secret", and perhaps the first of these is cleared up right away in the book, by the time that Edgar spends in Spain with Salvador Dali.
One can not learn by simply copying and thinking that the idea was clever. In the world of Salvador Dali, like a lot of the surrealists at the time, it is not about just "seeing" these things, but also "living" them. And that was the main difference, it seems, for the work he did as opposed to others. So, Edgar finds a way to get into Salvador's studio and in there ... we think that he really got to understand his first intuitive abilities and how to make them come alive. The question, I think, would be, how to get this across to others and create something that made sense and was interesting at the same time, and I think that Salvador specified that it did not matter if it made sense or not ... you either live it, or you don't.
From this point on, you wonder what the book is about. The creativity? The band? The ... everything else?
The book turns into an encyclopedic study of the elements that made Tangerine Dream live, if not in their minds, at least in ours, and we go through an exhausting history of various moments, that kinda explode on the frozen tundras of Poland, in a manner that you wonder ... you got to be kidding me? Nope ... it was all there, the worst dream that we could possibly expect, and something that we would imagine would make the members stronger, and instead made things much more difficult to work with and eventually create yet another change in the group.
Many things are interesting in this very good and difficult book to read sometimes, since it it detailed so much ... and then, the one chapter that might throw many folks off, is the one about David Bowie, at a time, when he appears to have decided to go to Berlin, for the purpose of cleaning up from all the drugs and leeches around him. One wonders, why a "pop star" is of such an important part of the book and Edgar's career, and in the end, what is hard to see is that he learns even more ... what it takes and ticks for someone to "create" something totally different, and in one astounding moment/example, it is the producer Tony Visconti that makes it clear ... it is about David's voice and he is going to play it until he finds the moment he needs to develop it. PERIOD. And everyone had to shut and leave until that time made its entrance! Edgar, and the members of TD had been doing that for some time, even if they did not have any words to describe it. Their ways were mostly about the sound itself, and its quality and eventual development.
I'm not sure that TD ever really had the luxury that David Bowie enjoyed, but they did have a very strong intuitive edge, even if it was according to the book, rather different than most people's. Start that sequence and they take over from there in due course. Not all pieces that ended up in albums were exactly like that, and many of them had very different starts and moments, and you will find out that for a long while, it was a new "sound" that helped them develop, and later, not just a sound, but a way to interweave everyone's piece of work together into some of the most beautiful music anyone has ever done.
The book, is actually very good, although I am inclined to believe that the "humor" in it, sometimes gets in the way, since we are not in Germany, and it would be even more difficult if you were not in Berlin at the time, to know how the cynical, weird, off kilter exchanges to our ears, can seem so normal, and something "not to take personally". One has to have very thick skin, it seems, to get past all that, and more than likely even thicker skin to be able to get everyone in the room, and the band to stay together to create even more music for what 46/47 years or so?
The book comes to an end, and it appears that there simply was not any more time before Edgar left our plane of existence, to add some more and describe for us what it took in the next 10 plus years to create what they did, that in concert, if one is to take the moments from a lot of the videos out there, were excellent to the audience.
In the end, if there is a sadness for me, it is that Christoph Franke did not send a note or two, and one can sometimes think that Edgar's eyes looking at Christoph is sort of a cartoon, complete with the typical WB barbs, German style, of course. Makes me think that Mr. Franke thinks that he had more involved and invested in the whole thing than Edgar shows, and comments on. Edgar makes a point of just about appreciating all the folks that participated in the large amount of work, but it seems that not as much, is seen from Mr. Franke.
All in all, this is a very special book, and given the hardships involved and the incredible stage adventures and failures that took place in many of their early days' concerts, it was inevitable that putting it all down on paper would make sense, if anything to show folks how a vision of a visionary in music, MUST be brought to life.
I am not sure that many of us will look at this book, that way ... I first saw them in the first American tour at the Santa Monica Civic and for the 4th and last time in Portland in 1986 at the Arlene Schnitzler Hall, when my girlfriend at the time even said in the end ... is all that supposed to be music?
Kinda says it all about the music that TD creates. But it has the force of an artist, that only a real artistic mind can live through and initiate. This group and their work, has been for many years very important to my own internal development, since I was a inner "tripper" (if you will), and music like this had all the movie parts that one needed to live in it, and no lyrics to throw you off the cliff!
Only one odd thing for me ... the title and the album. I think that Edgar, secretly, loved that album, and I, personally, love to put that on and blast it. And to me, this was really enjoyable. And an album that still stands out in my mind as well as any of the others I love to listen to.
It is, by all accounts a very strong and wonderful book. Not your run of the mill discussion about this or that, but in the end, a really fine instrument into the creative mind day in and day out ... which made Tangerine Dream, one of the finest artists of this century for me.
I kinda would have liked to see/hear more about the later lineups and folks, but apparently by that time either never arrived for the book, or is not in a form that can be published or shared. However, if these later concerts are an indication, as the shows on the Internet and DVD's seem to suggest, the ability of the newer folks to stick to the work, seems to have been much more centered and focused than before, even if many people do not think the music was as powerful and beautiful as before, which in my mind is not the case ... it was just as good.
Well done ... very well done ... just like a new Tangerine Dream album always was ... and I do not think that any of us could have asked for a whole lot more! It is a long story, that is told via the tours and works that were created for the moment, and everything in between, and one should really consider this a massive catalogue of what it was like, specially in the earlier days of electronic works, when so many halls did not even have the capacity to handle so many instruments and whole layouts were very difficult ... to even consider playing.
Highly recommended and I would have loved to read more of it and into 2010 and up to the later years, specially things that helped create the SORCERER shows and the massive effort that something like that would have required, but it shows how well this group could function and develop work that most can not do at all.
A book that stands out for it quality and really, feels like ... just another TD album that you gladly play many times, and enjoy ... I'm not sure that the past music will sound the same having read all of this, but I doubt that the visual nature of my feelings has changed because of this reading. It is fabulous and a large thank you to the TD folks and Bianca in their effort to put this out correctly, even if the last 10 to 15 years are missing, which may not exist, but with the encyclopedic mind the person who helped create this book.
Please email me with questions and/or comments
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