23 May 2007

Tangerine Dream- Zeit (1972)

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Hmm... did I call Alpha Centauri minimal? It has nothing on Zeit, which is German for time. The concept here is very metaphysical, as the music here seems to warp the listener's definition of time. The instrumentation is almost exclusively synth and organ (with a few cellos on the first track), but they all blend in a way that it's often impossible to tell what is what. While Tangerine Dream previously working in a space rock genre, here they abandon any link to rock music or popular music in general.

In all honesty, this is really a love it or hate it album. Notes move very slowly and it's next to impossible to pay close attention to what's going on. In the Electronic Meditation review of spoke of the definition of music. Here there are no strong themes, but there's plenty of concept and I do have the impression that the players know what they're doing. It is the definition of "atmospheric."

The four side-long tracks vary mainly in tone, like different colored crayons. "Birth of Liquid Plejades" consists of long, drone out tones and changes very slowly. "Nebulous Dawn" shifts things with a light clopping rhythm which is mirrored by the bubbling synth on "Orgin Of Supernatural Probablilities." Things shift back to extreme darkness on side four's "Zeit."

Usually music this minimalistic has a meditative quality. Zeit's tones tend to be extremely dark and unsettling. It tends to create the bleak vibe of industrial without being industrial at all. I do put it on when I go to sleep sometimes, but I doubt everyone would want to do that as they might end up scared of the dark again.

Be careful with this album's volume too. Although the music seems to never rise above a murmur, it in fact gets quite loud at times, which accounts for some of it's unsettling nature. There is no percussion, so that loudness tends to be of a "screaming well of souls" quality.

As a fun fact, 70's Tangerine Dream mainstay Peter Baumann joined the band for this album. The bleakness and minimalistic nature here tends to obscure any distinct musical personalities, so Baumann presence isn't really noticable until the next album.

I think that if one is willing to "crack the code" on Zeit, it is a very rewarding album and creates a headspace that few other albums do. It is a bleak beauty, however, and probably isn't the best place to start. Here the Tangerine Dream becomes a slithering nightmare.

Buy Me:
Tangerine Dream- Nebulous Dawn (includes Zeit)

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