Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Tag: instrumental

Tangerine Dream – White Eagle

According to Wikipedia, this is TD album number twelve, if one discounts the film soundtracks they’ve done. White Eagle is probably the culmination of their short and sharp period that begun with Force Majeure and ended with Underwater Sunlight. This a tightly built album, with few of the long, swaying meanders of early efforts.

It’s very beat driven, with recurring motifs throughout. The twenty minute opening track, Mojave Plan, is one of the better things they’ve constructed, an occasionally sinister sounding piece of sibilant and ringing electronica that churns along. I get the impression that the band were fans of Vangelis’ work in Blade Runner. That influence is pretty much apparent.

Midnight in Tula is the album highlight, a New-Wave-ish three or so minutes of electronic chugg-a-long. Game-maker System 3 used this track in their game The Last Ninja 2.

Convention of the 24 drones on a bit, and it is this album’s weakest track. Things pick up for a sprightly, if strangely reflective closer in the title track.

Things got dreamier for Tangerine Dream from here, and I’ve covered a couple of albums of theirs where things are certainly ethereal. But White Eagle is concise highlight in their long catalogue.



Tangerine Dream – Lily On The Beach

This is the follow-up record to Optical Race. In a lot of ways, it’s more of the same and that is very much a positive thing. There’s thirteen songs here and the unifying theme is the West Coast of the United States. This record evokes images of everything from beach-side cafes to the high mountains, with everything from fast roads to deserts in between.

It’s a livelier record than its predecessor. There’s none of the dreamy reflection that was prevalent on Optical Race. In truth, the whole record sounds happy. Apart from the battery of synths, there’s drums and guitars throughout and a fair chunk of it does come across as a product of its era. In fact, the song Paradise Cove sounds like it came straight out of Miami Vice or Beverly Hills Cop.

Of course, there’s highlights here, from the title track to the empyrean Mount Shasta, the happy groove of Blue Mango Cafe, the reverberating Gecko and the cool cruise of Desert Drive. The album highlight would be Crystal Curfew.

This record? I love it.

lily on the beach

The B52s – Cosmic Thing

Every now and then, an album is released where every cut is a winner. Every song. No filler, no padding, no weak tracks. Cosmic Thing is such an LP. Disclosure: I’ve not listened to any of their other albums, bar the first one, so I’ve nothing to compare it with in their oeuvre. But that doesn’t really matter.

From the raging, happy opening title track to the last languid refrains of Follow Your Bliss there are ten songs of pure wonder. Upbeat, chirpy, poppy and very happy songs at that. Everyone on Earth has heard and grooved to Love Shack and Roam, and these are representative of the music within Cosmic Thing. Representative and not standing out as is the case for most other singles on an album. Songs like Bushfire, Junebug and Channel Z are every bit as a good.

The LP just shimmers and floats along on cosmic vibes and you know, it’s impossible to feel down while listening to it. Yes, it’s that good. So good in fact, I’m a little hesitant to go and check out their other work in case I get let down.

This is a watershed album for pop rock. Little comes close to it. Go forth and find it, and confront your life with joy. It truly is a cosmic thing.

cosmic thing

Steve Kilbey – Unearthed

Should be listened to in the bedroom and out of it says the groove notes, and I can happily say I’ve followed those instructions to the letter. Even without the benefit of psychedelic substances, this record is a stupendous winner. It’s different enough from anything released by The Church to please non-fans of that band, but similar enough for others to feel as if they’re walking on comfortable ground.

This wonderful record was released in the afterglow of Heyday, itself a masterpiece, and it’s provided me with years of sublime enjoyment. Make no mistake – it’s not mainstream music; far from it, but once you’ve delved into the record’s delights you’re not likely to leave soon.

The word “shimmering” gets heaved about a bit when referring to The Church, yet that’s exactly what this LP does. It shimmers. And it occasionally sparkles and stutters. In your face, but still mysterious tracks like Transference does all of the above, then there’s the hypnotic zig-zagging Swampdrone and Heliopolis, both of which will stay in your mind long after the record has stopped. Kilbey even slappas da bass on Design Error, and throws in a blast from a whistle for good measure. Things go up tempo with Judgement Day, reflective with Othertime, and positively weird on Famine

The record was self-produced and recorded at home by Kilbey, and that precisely what it feels like. Low-budget, low-fi and yet disturbingly effective. If anything out there has to be labelled “alternative rock” then this is it. This is what it’s about. This is easily one of the better records I’ve touched on here.

The CD release adds a couple of tracks, Forgetfulness and Nonapology.


Tangerine Dream – Optical Race

We’ve come a long way from Phaedra or even Cyclone. This is studio album number eighteen for Tangerine Dream (according to Wikipedia) and the ten songs contained therein are relatively short, and to the point. There is nothing ground-breaking here and if you wanted to be mean, you could – with a wry smile – write off everything on this album as pleasant elevator music. And it is pleasant. All of the album’s cuts possess a lively, uplifting vibe. The title track provides some energy over and above the endlessly flowing synth and pseudo-string washes. Twin Soul Tribe and Sun Gate speak of the Great Western Mysteries, and Ghazal (Love Song) is a fitting and lovely album closer. The album highlight is Mothers of Rain.

The New Age label gets slapped on latter day Tangerine Dream releases frequently, and to the uninitiated, it’s apt for this record. Some could say we have ten songs of pleasant instrumental pap here, wafting background music that never engages. You may be right, but what else can I say? I love this record. They outdid themselves for their next record though.

optical race

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