It’s not very often that a band can continue on after the heart of that band passes on. There’s just something that goes when the center of a musical universe supernovas into the next existential plane. It seemed that when Edgar Froese passed on in early 2015 his constant musical project for the last 45 years would disappear into the ether with him. But that’s the thing about Tangerine Dream: it was merely a vessel for the like-minded(like Froese) to create within. Froese created the aesthetic to which Tangerine Dream worked within. As long as Edgar kept equally creative and inspired artists to his left and right, then the machine known as Tangerine Dream would continue on, even without him. At the time of his passing, TD consisted of Froese, Ulrich Schnauss, Thorsten Quaeschning, and Hoshiko Yamane. They seemed to have created a very tight knit creative circle amongst each other, maybe even the best line-up since the band’s far headier 70s adventures.
Schnauss, Quaeschning, and Yamane gathered in the studio to create the first post-Froese Tangerine Dream album. It’s called Quantum Gate and it beautifully keeps the komische spirit of Edgar Froese alive and well, while laying new ground for TD to build upon.
There’s so many inspired moments on this album, but opening with the 13 minute “Sensing Elements” is one of the most inspired. It’s one of those kind tracks that feels so familiar, yet it seems to orbit its own galactic space. All those Froese-isms are alive and well here, yet Schnauss, Quaeschning, and Yamane create something quite unique within the Tangerine Dream atmosphere. “Roll The Seven Twice” slides along on an almost techno vibe, complete with arpeggiated synth lines and dance floor percussive feel. Then we come to the majestic and quite beautiful “Granular Blankets”, which is this melancholy track that seems to soar to amazing heights. I can only imagine this song somehow being inspired by Tangerine Dream’s fallen leader. Really, this is an astoundingly beautiful piece of music. I want to listen to it as I stare over Lake Michigan at dusk, or contemplate existence while taking in the Northern Lights, or driving across the Mackinaw Bridge on an overcast day.
Elsewhere the album continues to move onward and upward, with tracks like “It Is Time To Leave When Everyone Is Dancing”, “Non-Locality Destination”, and the heady “Proton Bonfire”. That spirit of exploration we’ve come to know, love, and expect from Tangerine Dream still runs strong with the three-piece. There are worlds created for us to explore here. Auditory excursions into existential wandering and sonic brick laying, much of which only builds upon the Edgar Froese mystique.
“Tear Down The Grey Skies” was the first track I heard off of Quantum Gate and it seemed to be this welcome and kinetic musical odyssey. It’s this neo-futurist track that’s part Blade Runner S/T and part Rubycon. There’s this incredible collision of Berlin School aesthetic and new world electronica that these three blend together beautifully. This was an epic introduction to post-Froese Tangerine Dream. “Genesis Of Precious Thoughts” brings us out of the silver skies on an old school note. There’s hints of late-70s TD. That moment where the band was heading out of an impressionistic musical era and going for a more mainstream, easily digested sound. There’s still plenty to sink your teeth into, but a distinct melody is there to grab onto.
Quantum Gate is one of those rare instances when a band continues to be incredibly creative and forward-thinking even when the center of that band has gone. Ulrich Schnauss, Thorsten Quaeschning, and Hoshiko Yamane not only do right by Edgar Froese, but they seem to have moved his vision into an already exciting next phase. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.