Posts Tagged ‘Mellotron’

“Phaedra” at 40 in Echoes Podcast

February 21, 2014

Hear an Homage to Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra in the Echoes Podcast

Tangerine Dream circa 1974

Tangerine Dream circa 1974

On February 20th, 1974, Tangerine Dream released the album that changed electronic music for the next 40 years.  It takes its name from Greek mythology and its sound from the imaginations of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Christoph Franke, the three members of Tangerine Dream at the time.  Phaedra was their fifth album, coming on the heals of Atem in 1973 and Zeit in 1972.  Both of those albums were abstract improvisations of floating sound fields.  Zeit in particular was a minimalist, Ligeti-like exploration in texture and sustain with a mixture of electronics and a cello quartet.   Phaedra had some of those elements, but on the side-long title track they were linked to sequencer grooves like rubber bands being twanged in space.  It’s the sound you hear in every retro-space band, a lot of techno and dance hits like Donna Summers’I Feel Love.”

PhaedraOn the Echoes Podcast, we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Phaedra with commentary from several artists influenced by this recording.  Moby, Ulrich Schnauss, Mark Shreeve, Ian Boddy, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, and Alan Howarth sing Phaedra’s praises and Edgar Froese reveals the thought behind the introduction of sequencers into the band.  We’ll also hear two tracks off the album and a set of music from Tangerine Dream influenced artists.  You can trip into space on Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra in the Echoes Podcast

Five  years ago, I compiled a list of the 10 Best Tangerine Dream albums.  Phaedra is at the top of that list.  Here’s the rest.

10 Best Tangerine Dream Albums From Number Six of 20 Icons of Echoes
Bookmark and Share
On the air I said I’d pick five, but I decided to go with ten.

1-Phaedra
2-Rubycon
Phaedra and Rubycon have always been a pair for me and  that pair is half of a quartet with Ricochet and Stratosfear.   These are the signature Dream albums, the blueprint for every retro-space artist out there, the sound that influenced ambient, techno, and more.   The classic trio of Edgar Froese, Christoph Franke and Peter Baumann found the secret of rubber band sequencer patterns discovered by Tonto’s Expanding Headband 2 years earlier.  The Dream   bound them in  interlocking patterns, mellotron chords and synthesizer textures.    Phaedra is transitional, retaining some of the avant-garde Ligeti-esque texturalism from Zeit on the mellotron drenched “Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare,” but the title track and Rubycon, an album length composition were definitive journeys into inner space.

3-Logos
Tangerine Dream was an exciting live band in the 70s and half of the 80s.  Listening to Logos, from 1982, you can hear why.  This was the Dream working with a precision and structure that earlier works didn’t have, but they were still creating in long-form with a fair amount of improvisation.  Johannes Schmoelling had been in the group for a while at this point and his influence is felt in gorgeous melodies and rhythms that have you ricocheting off your seat and between your headphone cups.  This was really the truly last live recording from the group.  Subsequent live albums would be more pre-programmed performances.

4-Zeit
It’s been called their most experimental CD, but I think it’s their most thoughtful, controlled and uncontrived album.  Playing with a cello quartet, it’s a journey of interwoven tones phasing through each other from acoustic to electric to something entirely new.  Ambient before ambient, but owing much to Gyorgy Ligeti pieces like “Atmospheres,” synths, gliss guitar, organ and “noise generators” unfold in undulating, slow motion patterns across what was a double LP.  This 1972 recording is a drone zone manifesto, and a beautifully enveloping work free of melody, rhythm and just about any other conventional music signpost.

5-Tangram
This is one of the last long-form Dream recordings.  Originally a two sided work, Tangram is a  multi-movement opus sometimes sabotaged by episodic writing, but still with some haunting themes amidst the pounding sequencers and more melodic invention than most prior Dream albums.

6-Stratosfear
Part of the classic quartet of albums, this was their most commercial release to date and the first album with real melodies.

7-Ricochet
The other album in the classic quartet.  Ricochet was their first live album, although it was all new materiel and sounds like a studio recording.  Another two-sided excursion that moves from the quietest solo piano spot to thundering sequencers from the heavens.

8-Goblins’ Club
Goblins’ Club recalls the 80’s sound of Tangerine Dream when they were just adding more aggressive rhythms and clearly defined melodies to their fanciful spacescapes.  But unlike so many of their post-Virgin releases, this 1996 albums doesn’t bludgeon you with canned synthesizer bombast.  There seems to be more exploratory fun and a more personal sound   as they drop in surreal free falls in the midst of their dramatic compositions.

9-Force Majeure
Something of an anomaly in that it features a drummer, Klaus Krieger, and gives the Dream a more fluid and aggressive sound, especially in the screaming side long title track.

10-Optical Race
I know that consensus opinion has it that the Private Music years sucked, and they did, except for Optical Race the first album they made for the label, owned by former Tangerine Dreamer, Peter Bauman.  With just Froese and Paul Haslinger, they create dense, rhythmically charged excursions that stand up to some of their best works and hold up better than albums like Le Parc.

Finally an album that should be on the list, Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, the third solo album from Edgar Froese and a Dream album by any other measure.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

TimelinesCDcoverJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Erik Wøllo’s Timelines is our February CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

LRC19-250pxGIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

 

 

Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra” at 40

February 20, 2014

PhaedraOn February 20th, 1974, Tangerine Dream released the album that changed electronic music for the next 40 years.  It takes its name from Greek mythology and its sound from the imaginations of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Christoph Franke, the three members of Tangerine Dream at the time.  Phaedra was their fifth album, coming on the heals of Atem in 1973 and Zeit in 1972.  Both of those albums were abstract improvisations of floating sound fields.  Zeit in particular was a minimalist, Ligeti-like exploration in texture and sustain with a mixture of electronics and a cello quartet.   Phaedra had some of those elements, but on the side-long title track they were linked to sequencer grooves like rubber bands being twanged in space.  It’s the sound you hear in every retro-space band, a lot of techno and dance hits like Donna Summers’I Feel Love.”

Tonight on Echoes, we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Phaedra with commentary from several artists influenced by this recording.  Moby, Ulrich Schnauss, Mark Shreeve, Ian Boddy, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, and Alan Howarth sing Phaedra’s praises and Edgar Froese reveals the thought behind the introduction of sequencers into the band.  We’ll also hear two tracks off the album and a set of music from Tangerine Dream influenced artists.  You can trip into space on Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra tonight on Echoes

Five  years ago, I compiled a list of the 10 Best Tangerine Dream albums.  Phaedra is at the top of that list.  Here’s the rest.

10 Best Tangerine Dream Albums From Number Six of 20 Icons of Echoes
Bookmark and Share
On the air I said I’d pick five, but I decided to go with ten.

1-Phaedra
2-Rubycon
Phaedra and Rubycon have always been a pair for me and  that pair is half of a quartet with Ricochet and Stratosfear.   These are the signature Dream albums, the blueprint for every retro-space artist out there, the sound that influenced ambient, techno, and more.   The classic trio of Edgar Froese, Christoph Franke and Peter Baumann found the secret of rubber band sequencer patterns discovered by Tonto’s Expanding Headband 2 years earlier.  The Dream   bound them in  interlocking patterns, mellotron chords and synthesizer textures.    Phaedra is transitional, retaining some of the avant-garde Ligeti-esque texturalism from Zeit on the mellotron drenched “Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare,” but the title track and Rubycon, an album length composition were definitive journeys into inner space.

3-Logos
Tangerine Dream was an exciting live band in the 70s and half of the 80s.  Listening to Logos, from 1982, you can hear why.  This was the Dream working with a precision and structure that earlier works didn’t have, but they were still creating in long-form with a fair amount of improvisation.  Johannes Schmoelling had been in the group for a while at this point and his influence is felt in gorgeous melodies and rhythms that have you ricocheting off your seat and between your headphone cups.  This was really the truly last live recording from the group.  Subsequent live albums would be more pre-programmed performances.

4-Zeit
It’s been called their most experimental CD, but I think it’s their most thoughtful, controlled and uncontrived album.  Playing with a cello quartet, it’s a journey of interwoven tones phasing through each other from acoustic to electric to something entirely new.  Ambient before ambient, but owing much to Gyorgy Ligeti pieces like “Atmospheres,” synths, gliss guitar, organ and “noise generators” unfold in undulating, slow motion patterns across what was a double LP.  This 1972 recording is a drone zone manifesto, and a beautifully enveloping work free of melody, rhythm and just about any other conventional music signpost.

5-Tangram
This is one of the last long-form Dream recordings.  Originally a two sided work, Tangram is a  multi-movement opus sometimes sabotaged by episodic writing, but still with some haunting themes amidst the pounding sequencers and more melodic invention than most prior Dream albums.

6-Stratosfear
Part of the classic quartet of albums, this was their most commercial release to date and the first album with real melodies.

7-Ricochet
The other album in the classic quartet.  Ricochet was their first live album, although it was all new materiel and sounds like a studio recording.  Another two-sided excursion that moves from the quietest solo piano spot to thundering sequencers from the heavens.

8-Goblins’ Club
Goblins’ Club recalls the 80’s sound of Tangerine Dream when they were just adding more aggressive rhythms and clearly defined melodies to their fanciful spacescapes.  But unlike so many of their post-Virgin releases, this 1996 albums doesn’t bludgeon you with canned synthesizer bombast.  There seems to be more exploratory fun and a more personal sound   as they drop in surreal free falls in the midst of their dramatic compositions.

9-Force Majeure
Something of an anomaly in that it features a drummer, Klaus Krieger, and gives the Dream a more fluid and aggressive sound, especially in the screaming side long title track.

10-Optical Race
I know that consensus opinion has it that the Private Music years sucked, and they did, except for Optical Race the first album they made for the label, owned by former Tangerine Dreamer, Peter Bauman.  With just Froese and Paul Haslinger, they create dense, rhythmically charged excursions that stand up to some of their best works and hold up better than albums like Le Parc.

Finally an album that should be on the list, Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, the third solo album from Edgar Froese and a Dream album by any other measure.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

TimelinesCDcoverJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Erik Wøllo’s Timelines is our February CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

LRC19-250pxGIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

 

 

Nearfest Exits, Farfest Enters

March 27, 2012

If you missed out on tickets for Nearfest Apocalypse, the final edition of this venerable festival, then hang on until October for Farfest, a four day progressive rock festival happening in Wilmington, Delaware at the Grand Opera House October 4-7.  The festival has put together an impressive array of 70’s Progressive rock acts, all from Europe.  They aren’t the big names, but the ones cherished by Prog cognoscenti.  Among them are Pulsar, a mellotron centric band that put out three classic space-prog albums, Pollen, Strands of the  Future and Halloween; Shylock, which only released a couple of great albums of their dynamic, symphonic prog; Maxophone, a pretty obscure Italian band that only had one album released in the US,; Poland’s SBB ; and Atoll from France.  Nods to post-70s prog go to Sweden’s Anekdoten and Norway’s Wobbler.  Wobbler played a dynamic set at Nearfest a few years ago.

Here’s the complete list to date:

  • Alphataurus
  • Anekdoten
  • Atoll
  • Cressida
  • Latte E Miele
  • Locanda Delle Fate
  • Maxophone
  • Pulsar
  • SBB
  • Shylock
  • Wobbler

This is a welcome festival in a more centrally located city than Bethlehem.  And the Grand Old Opera House is an intimate 1200 seat venue.

Here’s a few mostly visually static videos to whet your appetite.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news.

Maestros of the Mellotron-10 Majestic Mellotron Albums

February 3, 2010

Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie released on DVD

You can hear a podcast of our interview with Dianna Dilworth

Last year I wrote about the Mellotron and Dianna Dilworth’s documentary, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie.  Now that it’s been released on DVD I thought I’d re-post that blog with some updates, including a replacement in the Top Ten Mellotron Albums list.

Echoes will re-run an interview Dianna Dilworth tonight, Wednesday,  February 3.  It documents the history of the Mellotron and its forerunner, the Chamberlin. It’s a good documentary with lots of key interviews and some very funny archival footage with an insiders view of the history of the Chamberlin and Mellotron, which isn’t always pretty. Dilworth got Mellotron giants like King Crimson‘s Ian MacDonald, the Moody BluesMike Pinder, and producer and film composer Jon Brion to comment. Brion & producer Mitchell Froom are especially cogent.Dianna Dilworth
Among the interesting facets revealed are that the original Chamberlin and Mellotron tapes were recorded by musicians from the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. Who’d have thought that progrock opuses from King Crimson, Tangerine Dream and the Genesis were born in the sounds of the maestro of shlocky kitsch.

The taste and aesthetics of of the Mellotron and Chamberlin’s creators weren’t much higher, than Welk’s. Check out this hilarious YouTube promo film for the Mellotron from the early 1960s.

TOP TEN MELLOTRON & CHAMBERLIN  ALBUMS:

Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles use of Mellotron flutes on “Strawberry Fields” helped pave the way for this instrument and revealed that the Mellotron wasn’t a replacement for the orchestra, but a whole new sound world unto itself.

Days of Future Passed The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed Like The Beatles, the charm of the Mellotron in The Moody’s music was that it didn’t sound like an orchestra. In fact, their actual orchestral arrangements sound sappier now than they did 40 years ago, but the Mellotron arrangements sound timeless.

PhaedraTangerine Dream Phaedra The Mellotron is all over this album and other TD releases from this era. They took the Mellotron out of the orchestral mode and sent it to textural space. “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares”is pure mellotron majesty.

King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King What can you saw about this quintessential Mellotron In the Court of the Crimson Kingrecording, creating the orchestra of doom on the title track and pastoral fantasies on “I Talk to the Wind” and “Moonchild”

AguirrePopol Vuh Aguire I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve talked to who cite the opening of Werner Herzog‘s Aguire-The Wrathe of God with the conquistadors descending into the mist shrouded Amazon valley to the strains of Popol Vuh’s haunting score. There is some dispute about whether the choirs are actually a Mellotron or something else.

The Isness Future Sound of London The Isness I suspect they used samples off of lots of other records with Mellotrons, but this trip into post-electronica psychedelia resounds with flutes and strings redolent of a great acid trip, courtesy of the Mellotron.

mosaic2Richard Burmer Mosaic Richard actually used a Chamberlin on much of his debut album, a masterpiece of sampled orchestral exotica where the smokey, atmospheric sound of the Chamberlin adorned lovely tunes like “Ave Plaedelio” and fever dreams like “The Serum.”
The Zombies Odessey & Oracle
I don’t how this got left off the first list.  Rod Argent coaxes some beautiful orchestrations out of the Mellotron on this classic psychedelic pop album, yielding a nostalgic, quaint sound that surrounds Colin Blunstone‘s breathless vocals.

For more information and Mellotron/Chamberlin albums than you could ever absorb, go to the planetmellotron.com site. It’s a blast.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))
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Echoes Top Ten Mellotron Albums

June 13, 2009
Radio Massacre International Mellotron on Bottom

Radio Massacre International's Mellotron on Bottom

Echoes will run  an interview with film director Dianna Dilworth about her movie Mellodrama: The Story of the Mellotron On Tuesday, June 16 .  It  documents the history of the Mellotron and it’s forerunner, the Chamberlin.

I was starting to write a blog about it along with my 10 favorite Mellotron albums when I realized, “Oh, I wrote about it a few months ago.”

Dianna Dilworth

Dianna Dilworth

Since then, I’ve seen the documentary,  which is currently playing at film festivals.  It’s still a work in progress but Dianna says what I saw was 95% there.   It’s a good documentary with lots of key interviews and some very funny archival footage with an insiders view of the history of the Chamberlin and Mellotron, which isn’t always pretty.   Dilworth got Mellotron giants like King Crimson‘s Ian MacDonald, the Moody BluesMike Pinder, and producer film composer Jon Brion to comment.  Brion & producer Mitchell Froom are especially cogent.

Among the interesting facets revealed are that the original Chamberlin and Mellotron tapes were recorded by musicians from the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.   Who’d have thought that progrock opuses from King Crimson, Tangerine Dream and the Genesis were born in the sounds of the maestro of shlocky kitsch.

The taste and aesthetics of of the Mellotron and Chamberlin’s creators weren’t much higher, than Welk’s.  Check out this hilarious YouTube promo film for the Mellotron from the early 1960s.

The next screening for Mellodrama: The Story of the Mellotron takes place between June 25 and 28 at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival.

TOP TEN  MELLOTRON & CHAMBERLIN SONGS and/or ALBUMS:

Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles use of Mellotron flutes on “Strawberry Fields” helped paved the way for this instrument and revealed that the Mellotron was’t a replacement for the orchestra, but a whole new soundworld unto itself

Days of Future Passed The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed Like The Beatles, the charm of the Mellotron in their music was that it didn’t sound like an orchestra. In fact, their actual orchestral arrangements sound sappier now than they did 40 years ago, but the Mellotron arrangements sound timeless.
Phaedra Tangerine Dream “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares”  Phaedra The Mellotron is all over this album and other TD releases from this era. They took the Mellotron out of the orchestral mode and sent it to textural space.

In the Court of the Crimson King King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King What can you saw about this quintessential Mellotron recording, creating the orchestra of doom on the title track and pastoral fantasies on “I Talk to the Wind” and “Moonchild”

Aguirre Popol Vuh Aguire I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve talked to who cite the opening of Werner Herzog‘s Aguire-The Wrathe of God with the conquistadors descending into the mist shrouded Amazon valley to the strains of Popol Vuh’s haunting score.  There is some dispute about whether the choirs are actually a Mellotron or something else.
The Isness Future Sound of London The Isness I suspect they used samples off of lots of other records with Mellotrons, but this trip into post-electronica psychedelia resounds with flutes and strings redolent of a great acid trip, courtesy of the Mellotron.
mosaic2 Richard Burmer Mosaic Richard actually used a Chamberlin of much of his debut album, a masterpiece of sampled orchestral exotica where the smokey, atmospheric sound of the Chamberlain adorned lovely tunes like Ave Plaedelio and fever dreams like “The Serum.”
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips Cruel Inventions You wouldn’t think of this singer-songwriter as a Mellotron exponent.   You’d think her producer and then husband,  roots-rocker T-Bone Burnett, was even less so.  But he  brought the Chamberlin in to create slightly surreal beds for Phillips often tortured songs.

For more information and Mellotron/Chamberlin albums than you could ever absorb, go to the planetmellotron.com site.  It’s a blast.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))


Mellotron from Lawrence Welk to King Crimson

February 11, 2009
Radio Massacre International Mellotron on Bottom

Radio Massacre International's Mellotron on Bottom

There’s a new movie out called Mellodrama: The Story of the Mellotron that documents the history of the Mellotron and it’s forerunner, the Chamberlain.

I haven’t seen the documentary, which just opened at a film festical, but some interesting tidbits are gleaned from the trailer and an interview with the director, Dianna Dillworth.

Who’d have thought that the sound of King Crimson, Tangerine Dream and the Moody Blues was born in the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, which apparently provided the source materiel for the original Chamberlain and Mellotron tapes.

There’s also a hilarious YouTube promo film for the Mellotron from the early 1960s.

Best Chamberlain/Mellotron Songs and/or Albums:

Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” Magical Mystery Tour The Beatles use of mellotron flutes on Strawberry Fields helped paved the way for this instrument and revealed that the Mellotron was’t a replacement for the orchestra, but a whole  new soundworld unto itself

Days of Future Passed The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed Like The Beatles, the charm of the mellotron in their music was that it didsn’t sound like an orchestra.  IN fact, their actual orchestral arrangements sound sappier now than they did 40 years ago, but the mellotron arrangements sound timeless.
Phaedra Tangerine Dream “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” Phaedra The Mellotron is all over this album and other TD releases from this era.  They took the mellotron out of the orchestral mode and sent it to textural space.

In the Court of the Crimson King King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King What can you saw about this quintessential mellotron recording, creating the orchestra of doom on the title track and pastoral fantasies on “I Talk to the Wind” and “Moonchild”

Aguirre Popol Vuh Aguire I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve talked to who cite the opening of Werner Herzog‘s Aguire-The Wrathe of God with the conquistadors descending into the mist shrouded Amazon valley to the strains of Popol Vuh’s haunting score
The Isness Future Sound of London The Isness I suspect they used samples off of lots of other records with mellotrons, but this trip into post-electronica psychedelia resounds with flutes and strings redolent of a great acid trip, coutesy of the Mellotron.
mosaic2 Richard Burmer Mosaic Richard actually used a Chamberlain of much of his debut album, a masterpiece of sampled orchestral exotica where the smokey, atmospheric sound of the Chamberlain adorned lovely tunes like Ave Plaedelio and fever dreams like “The Serum.”
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips Cruel Inventions You wouldn’t think of this singer-songwriter as a mellotron exponent, but producer and then husband T-Bone Burnett brought the Chamberlain in to create slightly surreal beds for Phillips often tortured songs.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))



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