German electronica band Tangerine Dream is coming to Prague on October 23 as part of Roxy’s 27 birthday celebration, called BE27.
The pioneering band formed in 1967, with Edgar Froese as the main member. He passed away in 2015, but the three remaining members are now touring again. Bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Thorsten Quaeschning joined in 2005, violinist Hoshiko Yamane in 2011, and keyboard player Ulrich Schnauss in 2014. Froese’s widow, Bianca Froese-Acquaye, manages the band and looks after the musical legacy.
The band has had a large turnover of musicians in the half-century it has been active, with over two dozen lineups and as many former members. They also have released over 100 live and studio albums, not counting compilations. The most recent is Quantum Gate, released in 2017, the first without Froese but using some of his sketches and ideas.
Their most successful album was 1975’s Rubycon, which reached number 10 in the UK charts. Other successes were 1974’s Phaedra, reaching 15 in the UK, and 1979’s Force Majeure, reaching 26 in the UK.
Fans, though, might know the band for its work on film soundtracks. They have made 60 scores, 24 of which were released as albums. The 1977 score for the adventure film Sorcerer reached 25 in the UK charts. The 1981 score for the thriller Thief also charted in the US and UK. Other popular films they worked on included Risky Business, Firestarter, Near Dark, the North American release of Legend, Canyon Dreams, and The Keep. Their music can also be heard in the video game Grand Theft Auto V.
The new tour is accompanied by an audiovisual show that opened last year’s Dekmantel Festival and sold out London’s Barbican. Recent setlists show the band plays new material from Quantum Gate, mixed with classics such as “Stratosfear,” “Love on a Real Train (Risky Business),” and “Betrayal (Sorcerer Theme).” Each show tends to have some rarities as well that weren’t performed previously on the tour.
In an overall positive review of a 2018 show at London’s Union Chapel, David Stubbs of UK newspaper The Guardian says the band thrives on the creative contrast between the earnest prog presence of Quaeschning and the more modernistic Ulrich Schnauss on sequencer and rhythms. “Schnauss’s influence is what makes 2017’s Quantum Gate the Dream’s most interesting release in years,” he wrote, adding that the imaginary worlds created by Froese deserve to live on after him.
Together with Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream helped to define the German electronica sound of the 1970s. Tangerine Dream, in particular, changed its sound over time, evolving into a style called kosmische (cosmic), and the band has recently performed in planetariums. They have also been seen as a major influence on dark ambient music.