Sunday 8 February 2015

Phaedra by Tangerine Dream

“One of the most important, artistic, and exciting works in the history of electronic music".
Vladimir Bogdanov
All Music Guide to Electronica, Backbeat Books, 2001. p.505. 

A Note.
This poetry is dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, who died recently. I don't believe in explaining my work too much; make of it what you will, but in this case I will make an exception.
On a Saturday afternoon in the mid '70s my life was changed forever by a piece of music. I was listening to the Alan Freeman show; he played the kind of rock music we would call “Prog” (for progressive) these days, though I wasn't aware of it being called that at the time. On his show I heard my first Yes, King Crimson, Wishbone Ash... the list goes on, but on that day I turned on just in time to hear Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares from Tangerine Dream's album Phaedra. I had never heard anything like it. I had heard what was then called electronic music, the tape effects & the incidental music of Dr. Who, the haunting theremin of Forbidden Planet; but nothing like this. I was utterly trancefixed, moved, ecstatic. I went out & bought it on cassette tape as soon as I had enough cash. It was music which perfectly suited my mystical temperament; deep, rich & consciousness altering. 

Without the pioneering work of people like Edgar & bands like the Tangs, so much of the musical landscape which we take for granted today would not exist. Well, it probably would have evolved anyway, but they were the ones who did it first & did it so well. I have been faithfully listening to their music, this album in particular, for forty years. I've seen them live twice, on both occasions in Newcastle City Hall. They didn't disappoint. 

Here I have written four poems, for the four tracks of the album. It is by no means the first time I have taken inspiration from this music!

I've provided links so that you can listen to each track on Youtube. They are all longer than the poems so as you read & listen you may find it helpful to contemplate each poem for the entire length of the song. If you like it please buy the album. If one person does so as a result of my writing here I will be very happy.

Froese, Franke, Baumann 17:39

Theseus the killer rides out over
The sun flaked shining waters
Of a channel filled with darkness & starlight

In an inversion, the errant sun orbits the earth again
The magnetic magic of her tresses
Matching, praising the maiden's beauty

Cloud-light witnesses
The spiritual progress of the satellite
The orbital engine of the deity

A bitter, always jealous beauty
Adored by all whose eyes have turned
Eastward before morning, west for twilight

She's rising from the sea
A magic brighter than the moon
In polyrhythmic hymns addressed to tide

Each day, night, season, year
An emanation of her power
An iteration of machine passage

That won't be, can't ever be bested
Betrays her lover with false accusations:
Her embarrassment destroyed her happiness

An embarrassment of riches
One penis too many flung out its chord
One sword too many did its work

In the analog mood of a heat de-tuned oscillator
The detumescent hero
Tragically believes her lies

The bass-line heart races
Into a crisis of murmur; murder
Is as inevitable with these demi-gods as suppertime

The dead youth floats in the
Cosmic sea mourned only by birds
His blood a shadow across the nebula

In the end, after silence
Has taken the tale into oblivion
Who are those children at play?

I think that they are the ghosts of the future
Her unborn children
Innocent of their radioactive heritage.

Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares
Froese 9:55

In this in-between place
Puissant wind & wave
Were my love;
This misty shore
Awakened me from my slumbers,
This voice called to me
From over dream gaberdine;
A gaseous intelligence
Illuminated by arches
Of pale aurora.

Monique operates the phaser-shift
Edgar plays solo mellotron
My friend Julian said:
“You can hardly believe
That this was played on
Any kind of instrument.”

The day the earth changed
Was a Saturday
My life was shifted
Back where it belonged,
Into the clouds
Of not knowing;
Such a perfect discovery
To have been made by the stony strand.

Huge charge surges of potent, god gulfed
Grey-green wine water
Pool & raise themselves out, up onto
Low frequency force circles to turn
Heads in over to see the inevitable figure
Of the nereid who guides you through the dreamscape
Of weed & barnacle encrusted old one shadows
To this sunlit stone
Where she may finally be recognised & she smiles
Because she owns you.

& birds flew out, around the turret
Poured outward from the cliff
In waves of shadows
Tumult passage
Over the darkening sea
Then she made a simple gesture with her hand
& we flew out over the bay
While she reclined, enigmatic Maya upon her rock.

Olive skinned & sheened with
Sea water light
Her naked smile
Was the reward;
Some settled on an island far out
We shot past, careened,
Screaming joys
Up, away into a void of shout.

Movements of a Visionary
Froese, Franke, Baumann 7:56

In the quiet of a dripping, ticking clock cave
He made his platonic seat
But he saw no shadows on that wall
Instead saw everything
Like light flashes
Flashes of beam, pineal sequences that suggest
A beacon coded signal
Transmitted via history
Decrypted in trance-shine.

Heavy, mad, wrapped in his blanket
With naked arms reaching out into space
His fingers webbed with thread
To jerk unseen limbs
Into dance in halls, cellars
Temples, city squares
Each gesture flipping
History into his story.

Far away in night city dance factories
Technical ecstasies
Possess the future celebrants
Unknowing of this prophecy;
Edgar was a non-drinking vegetarian
Who never took drugs
He didn't need to:
A truth rediscovered by each generation,

A secret encoded in body rhythms.

Sequent C
Baumann 2:13

Finally the long night is done
The morning flute
Of the man in the afghan coat
Calls us to the eastern window,
Calls us to witness the timeless repetition
Of day.

His head nods
Heavy to make notes
As if the tape loop
Could cut & cycle
Time itself;
But we cannot return to that moment.

I'm still stoned,
Blinking my eyes in disbelief
As every blade of grass
Beyond window glass
Wave-moves in perfect synchrony
& dew light spectra
Echo the accumulated chords
That Pan made in the garden.

In memory of Edgar Froese, 6 June 1944– 20 January 2015

“We’ve never ever created “electronic music”! Such music emphasizes the intellect and is normally produced as a pure studio event. Working with synthesizers is a completely different approach to electrified music. We’re open to all kinds of modern music developments and wouldn’t be interested in the locked up situation you’re into while working in a musical ivory tower. ”

Quietus, 2010:

Also read:

Edgar's Home Page:

No comments:

Post a Comment