Tangerine Dream – Force Majeure

Listening to “Force Majeure”, I find myself with a new appreciation for Tangerine Dream’s best work. From where I’m standing, that’s in reference to ambient monsters “Rubycon” and “Phaedra”- each very expansive, drawn out and dark constructs. Not quite yet out of the 70′s, these pioneers’ tenth record still grasps at many of the band’s defining traits, but with it, there is a greater rock presence, not only by the fact that guitars are once again an ingredient, but also that the rhythms have been tightened up and made a little less scattered. Perhaps its simply a matter of expectation and taste, but Tangerine Dream’s glorious sound seems to lose something in this rhythmic transformation. There is still much of the same synthesized goodness heard on their best records, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that the band would marginalize one of my favourite things about them.

The fact that “Force Majeure” is split into three long songs is absolutely no surprise by this point in their career. Although synthesizers still form a base of their sound however, electric and acoustic guitars, and even rock drums are tossed into the mix. It does not sound like much of a revolution given popular music, but considering Tangerine Dream’s cream-of- the-crop almost entirely negated traditional rock instruments, it’s quite a change of pace. The sprawling title track is a strong example of what is both right and wrong with this development. Although there are several powerful electronic motifs within the epic that recall the classic sound, the piece’s middle section is driven by a very rock-oriented drum rhythm, wandering electric leads, and bluesy piano licks.

Thanks to the inclusion of wonderfully unexpected acoustic guitar breaks, the title track sounds at times like classic-era Genesis, or even Yes. Although it never achieves the mind- melting depth of atmosphere on “Rubycon”, there is a sense of completion to the epic by the time it’s finished. On the other hand, the occasionally syncopated drums fused with the synths give a subtle impression of Disco, and that’s not something I like to find in music, and prog music even less so.

Electronica remains the primary element in Tangerine Dream’s stew, but the more concise approach leaves its mark. Froese and co. will occasionally explore the deep end of the pool sonically, but you’re more often prone to hearing them dabble with upbeat melodic ideas, the kind that would pervade much of their less artistically successful 80′s material. Though the huge closer “Thru Metamorphic Rocks” at first appears to be a potential saviour and return-to-form for Tangerine Dream, it turns out to be the least effective piece on the album, with the runt “Cloudburst Flight” being somewhere in between the two qualitywise. While “Cloudburst Flight” evokes a strong sense of Floyd’s “Crazy Diamond” epic, “Metamorphic Rocks” feels as if it is a compilation of ideas that did not quite make it on the two or three albums that came before. Structurally, it is a mess, and while some of the second side’s more challenging moments make for an intriguing sonic experience, “Force Majeure” is left on a lukewarm note.

I’ve heard “Force Majeure” described as the end of the ‘classic’ Tangerine Dream era, and perhaps that’s true. For all of its disappointment and inconsistency, the wandering soul of the band still finds a place to nestle amongst the rocky beats and synthesized melodic cheese that would only metastasize in the decade to follow.


1. Force Majeure (18:18)
2. Cloudburst Flight (7:21)
3. Thru Metamorphic Rocks (14:15)


* Edgar Froese – synthesizer, bass, guitar, composer, keyboards, producer, mixing
* Christopher Franke – keyboards
* Edgar Meyer – cello, engineer
* Klaus Kruger – drums

1 Comment

  1. Mel C

    June 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    So much utter FUCKING bollocks in one review, well done!

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