Historically Out Of Their Tree; 

    Exclusive LAUNCH Online Interview by Ken Micallef



       Years before The Orb tripped the light fantastic
       over blipping quasars or The Future Sound of
       London skewed samples for their warped world,
       Tangerine Dream were there. Albums like Electronic
       Meditation, Zeit, Atem, Phaedra, Rubycon, and
       Stratosfear relayed a panoramic sweep of
       electronic textures and otherworldly vistas that
       sound as unusual now as they did back in the '70s.
       Founded by German sculptor and classical musician
       Edgar Froese in 1967, Tangerine Dream has seen
       many lineups, but their time-traveling style has
       remained intact.

       Like an 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. Now co-composing
       with his son Jerome Froese, Edgar Froese is as
       energetic and determined as ever--though some may
       brand his music as new age at a time of
       harder-rocking electronic bands like Prodigy and
       the Chemical Brothers. But Froese has held to his
       concept and sound-impetus for 30 years, testament
       to the melodic urge that charges his now graying
       head.

       "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."

       Now in his 60s, 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.

       "I want to fly on Branson's 747 to Australia and
       back, doing a whole recording in the air. It's
       something to do with satellite waves, some real
       weird stuff. And I know Branson, he's a real weird
       guy."

       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."