Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer - Celebrating A 50 Year History

Experience a retrospective time-lapse, aka 'Zeitraffer', through the career of one of electronic music's pioneering groups in this tour of the Barbican Music Library exhibition.

By Barbican Centre

Presented by Barbican Music Library

Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London (2021/2021) by Barbican Music LibraryBarbican Centre

Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer Exhibition

This Barbican Music Library exhibition takes you on a retrospective time-lapse (Zeitraffer in German) across the early years of Tangerine Dream, one of electronic music's pioneering groups, focusing on London's key role in the international breakthrough of the band. 

Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London, Barbican Music Library, Melanie Reinisch, 2021/2021, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London, Barbican Music Library, Melanie Reinisch, 2021/2021, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Watch: Exhibition Tour of 'Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer' in the Barbican Music Library

Barbican Music Library: Tangerine Dream Exhibition Tour (2021/2021) by Barbican Music LibraryBarbican Centre

Edgar Froese's former band The Ones with Salvador Dalí (1967/1967)Barbican Centre

This is rotten religious music!

Tangerine Dream was founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese in West Berlin. Froese was fascinated with the surrealist work of Salvador Dalí and together with his former psychedelic rock band “The Ones”, he was invited to play at Dalí's mansion in Port Lligat. 

In an interview from 2010 for The Quietus, Froese recalls the impact of this encounter:

'Dali was quite a big influence in my life because his philosophy of being as original and authentic as possible had touched me very intensively at that time. When I met Dali the first time I was 22, a youngster who knew immediately that nearly everything is possible in art as long as you have a strong belief in what you’re doing.'

Members of Tangerine Dream - Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese and Conrad Schnitzler, Wilfried Bauer, 1970/1970, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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After returning to West Berlin, Froese founded Tangerine Dream in the year 1967. Their first albums on the German Ohr label, evolved from experimental noise experiments, percussions to a more electronic based sound.

Portrait of John Peel by Len TrievnorBarbican Centre

T.Dream or not T.Dream?

The albums Zeit and Atem were among the favorites of BBC radio DJ John Peel who then introduced the band’s music to a UK audience. 

'For my money, Tangerine Dream are the best of the Kosmische Music bands. Whenever any of their extended works are played on the radio there is a heavy mail from listeners. Most of the letter-writers are for it, those that are against it are very against it indeed. A Tangerine Dream track, heard superficially, is little more than a repetitive drone. Closer listening reveals a constantly shifting and evolving pattern – something like Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ (Peel in 28 May 1969).'

The letter in which John Peel writes to Edgar Froese how the album Zeit calms him down after a long day of bad music.

A letter from John Peel about Tangerine Dream, John Peel, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Listen to Tangerine Dream - Zeit

Edgar Froese and Richard BransonBarbican Centre

The Virgin Years

Richard Branson signed Tangerine Dream for their newly launched Virgin Records label by the end of 1973. In a country estate north of Oxford, the so called “Manor Studio”, the band recorded their groundbreaking Phaedra album.

The album Phaedra, recorded at Virgin’s Manor Studios, reached 15 in the UK album charts and received gold in several countries. Its significant sound, based on the Moog sequencer but also the British made EMS VCS3 synthesizer, made this record a milestone in electronic music history.

Listen to Tangerine Dream - Phaedra

Review from Music Week in 1974:

'Now they have taken a step that someone was eventually bound to and play entirely electronic synthesized sounds. The music is fluid, eerie and beautiful, if experimental, with full use of the possibilities offered by stereo. It is as clearly based on classical formats as it is removed from classical melody, the accent being on rhythm and tone. It is impressive and haunting and though it bears no comparison with Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” is doubtless destined for a similar success being a breaker already.'

Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London, Melanie Reinisch, 2021/2021, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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VCS 3 analog synthesizer by Electronic Music Studios, Melanie Reinisch, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Electronic Music Studios’ equipment first came to Tangerine Dream’s attention when they used an EMS VCS 3 analog synthesizer on their second studio album Alpha Centauri in 1971. This ground-breaking instrument, produced by Peter Zinovieff in London was added to over the next few years, with the band purchasing several (suitcase) Synthi-A and AKS models, these were used extensively on stage from 1972 onwards. The VCS 3’s unique bubbling modulations can be heard on Edgar’s first solo album Aqua (released 1974) as well as Tangerine Dream’s first two Virgin Records albums Phaedra (1974) and Rubycon (1975).

Portrait of Bob Moog, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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The Moog IIIP (3-case) modular synthesizer was invented by Bob Moog. It became Tangerine Dream’s signature sound, appearing on the groundbreaking albums Phaedra (1974) and Rubycon.

Tangerine Dream UK tour poster from 1974 (1974/1974)Barbican Centre

Tangerine Dream In Concert

In the aftermath of Phaedra, Tangerine Dream started the 1974 UK tour at London’s Rainbow Theatre. The band was introduced and welcomed on stage by the words of John Peel.

Listen to John Peel's announcement in the concert. 

Tangerine Dream during their Cathedral Tour, 1975/1975, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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One month after the UK tour and still promoting Phaedra, the band’s now infamous concert in the 12th century cathedral in the French city of Reims followed. An article from December ’74 states that 6,000 people overcrowded and desecrated the cathedral with a capacity of only 3.000. As a result, Tangerine Dream was banned from further performances in cathedrals by the Catholic Church.

Edition of New Musical Express newspaper featuring review of Tangerine Dream's gig in Reims., 1974/1974, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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The ban on performing in Roman Catholic cathedrals from the Vatican had little impact on the band, as Tangerine Dream continued to perform at three cathedrals in the UK, in Coventry, York and Liverpool.

Tangerine Dream during the Cathedral Tour, 1975/1975, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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This Minimoog analog synthesizer was played by Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream from the 1975 tour onwards. It can be heard on recordings from the Royal Albert Hall concert to Logos: Live at the Dominion London.

Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London, displaying the Mini Moog, Melanie Reinisch, 2021/2021, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London (2021/2021) by Melanie ReinischBarbican Centre

Hollywood

Tangerine Dream’s live shows caught the attention of young Hollywood filmmakers, such as William Friedkin, Ridley Scott and Michael Mann. This provided for the group‘s entry into the Hollywood film music business in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Installation view of Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer in the Barbican Music Library, London displaying Risky Business VHS tape. (2021/2021) by Melanie ReinischBarbican Centre

Risky Business

The most successful was 'Love On A Real Trail' for the soundtrack to Risky Business, directed by Paul Brickman. The song was used in several Netflix series like Mr. Robot or Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and was recently voted one of the best 200 songs of the 1980s by Pitchfork.

Listen to 'Love On A Real Train', from Risky Business soundtrack

Timeline

The incredible journey of Tangerine Dream kicked off in 1970s London and high-raised with their scoring work in the US-American film industry by the early 1980s. This timeline illustrates some of the pivotal moments in the band’s history.

Illustrated timeline of Tangerine Dream's historyBarbican Centre

Illustrated timeline of Tangerine Dream's historyBarbican Centre

Illustrated timeline of Tangerine Dream's historyBarbican Centre

After Edgar Froese's death in 2015, Tangerine Dream's line-up now consists of Thorsten Quaeschning (since 2005) as musical director, Hoshiko Yamane (since 2011), Ulrich Schnauss (since 2014) and Paul Frick (since June 2020).

Credits: Story

Tangerine Dream: Zeitraffer is curated by Bianca Froese-Acquaye (initiator), Felix Moser and Melanie Reinisch.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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