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  • Thom Holmes

Not Tangerine Dream–Revisited

German Electronic Groups and Connections in the 1970s.


My Book: Electronic and Experimental Music, sixth edition, Routledge 2020.

My Podcast: The Holmes Archive of Electronic Music


One of my most downloaded podcasts was the one called Not Tangerine Dream. This program returns to the theme of electronic groups from the 1970s that emerged from the German ecosystem founded on the trancelike work of Tangerine Dream. Among these groups was another important influencer: Kraftwerk. I’m going to include a couple of lesser-known tracks from 1973 from the Ralf and Florian album, which was stylistically quite different from later Kraftwerk music. And that might be the common thread throughout this episode: the sheer variety of electronic music coming from Germany at that time.


In this mix I’ve included some parts from Sternklang, or Star Sound, by Karlheinz Stockhausen, the avant-garde composer who came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Sternklang was written to be performed by four groups of musicians outdoors in a park. Stockhausen clearly had an affinity for the stars and this work strives to articulate this connection through the use of voices, electronics, and acoustic instruments creating patterns that are, as Stockhausen explains, models that are rhythmically, timbre, or intervallically related to the classical star constellations. He added that this piece could also be played on a clear night by directly transcribing the constellations into music on the spot.


I’ve included a three-track suite from Eberhard Schoener and his album Destruction of Harmony. His stated goal was to interleave interpretations of classical music, in this case Bach, with his own electronic compositions.


We will hear music by former members of Tangerine Dream including Peter Baumann and Klaus Schulze. We will hear another stream of German electronic music in the work of Cluster (with a C rather than a K), from the last album from Moebius and Roedelius before taking a break and moving on to other projects. We will also hear two tracks from Wolfgang Riechmann from his only solo album, Wunderdar. It is very much in the style of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. Unfortunately, Riechmann was killed in 1978 and is remembered mostly for his earlier work with the Dusseldorf band Streetmark.


Finally, I want to close by playing part four of Cyborg by Klaus Schulze, released in 1973. This is one of those double LPs, his second, that helped define the sound of this prolific and influential electronic musician.


Playlist

1. Eberhard Schoener, “Polonaise” in three parts, from Destruction Of Harmony - The Living Sound Of Synthesizer Based On Bach & Vivaldi (1971 Ariola). Composed/interpreted by, arranged by, Moog Modular synthesizer, Eberhard Schoener.


2. Wolfgang Riechmann, “Abendlicht” from Wunderbar (1978 Sky). Voice, electric violin, guitar, electric piano, bass, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, ARP Sequencer, Röhrophon, electronic drums, Wolfgang Riechmann.


3. Kraftwerk “Heimatklänge” from Ralf & Florian (1973 Philips). Vocals, keyboards, strings, wind instruments, drums, electronics, Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter.


4. Stockhausen, “Side IV, Groups II and III” from Sternklang (Park-Music For Five Groups). For vocalists, instruments and electronics. From the notes: “The composition is written for groups of singers and instrumentalists, which are widely separated from each other spatially. The groups should be able to hear each other, above all, when a group has a pause. The musicians must also be able to regulate the overtones of the played and sung sounds, as these are described exactly. We therefore ask the listening participants to keep the silence that is necessary for the musicians.” If that weren't enough, Stockhausen also encouraged the performance of the work on a clear night by having the musicians "transcribe" the constellations they could see. Not sure if they ever produced such a performance.


5. Kraftwerk “Tongebirge” from Ralf & Florian (1973 Philips). Vocals, keyboards, strings, wind instruments, drums, electronics, Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter.


6. Peter Baumann, “Meadow Of Infinity (Part 2)” from Romance 76 (1976 Virgin). Composed, produced, and played by Peter Baumann. Used a custom-built synthesizer provided by Projekt Electronic Berlin.


7. Cluster, “Seltsame Gegend” from Curiosum (1981 Sky). Music by, produced, and played by Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius.


8. Wolfgang Riechmann, “Weltweit” from Wunderbar (1978 Sky). Voice, electric violin, guitar, electric piano, bass, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, ARP Sequencer, Röhrophon, electronic drums, Wolfgang Riechmann.


9. Cluster, “Helle Melange” from Curiosum (1981 Sky). Music by, produced, and played by Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius.


10. Klaus Schulze, “Neuronengesang”, side four of Cyborg (1973/76 Brain). Music by, organ, synthesizer, vocals, percussion, Klaus Schulze.


Archive Mix

In which I play two tracks at the same time to see what happens.

  • Eberhard Schoener, “Overture” from Destruction Of Harmony - The Living Sound Of Synthesizer Based On Bach & Vivaldi (1971 Ariola). Composed/interpreted by, arranged by, Moog Modular synthesizer, Eberhard Schoener.

  • Peter Baumann, “Meadow Of Infinity (Part 1)” from Romance 76 (1976 Virgin). Composed, produced, and played by Peter Baumann. Used a custom-built synthesizer provided by Projekt Electronic Berlin. “Meadow Of Infinity Part 1” included members of the Philharmonic Orchestra Munich, conducted by H. Baumann.


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Electronic and Experimental Music

Notes on the development and continuing history of electronic music, its creators, and the technology.