Rob Young on Edgar Froese



On Rob Young has written an excellent article about the life and music of Edgar Froese. It goes like this:

WHAT IS CALLED DRAMA in musical terminology is frequently valued but often overrated: too often associated with the operatically overblown or the whining catgut of suspense. Watching the nail-biting sequences in William Friedkin’s unjustly forgotten, jungle-juggernaut movie Sorcerer (1977), with its monster trucks teetering on rope bridges above a torrential Amazon in full spate, you’re struck by how much the background music—a gray, insistent hornet hum of synthesized sound—helps ratchet up the desperation of the scenario in a ruthlessly restrained manner that’s nothing like the Wagnerian meltdown you’d expect in such a scene from the Hollywood of today. Friedkin later said that if he had discovered the German musicians responsible sooner, he would have asked them to score The Exorcist (1973). The director had stumbled upon them performing in a derelict church in Germany’s Black Forest. They were Tangerine Dream, and their chief synthesist, Edgar Froese, died suddenly this January in Vienna, age seventy.

Born on D-day, 1944, Froese settled with his family in Berlin after the war and studied piano as a teenager. By 1965, he found himself leading a psychedelic band called the Ones, at one point performing at the request of Salvador Dalí at his home in Cadaqués, Spain. Two years later, Froese founded a new group with Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler called Tangerine Dream (after the British psych band Kaleidoscope’s debut LP). Their first, landmark album, Electronic Meditation, was recorded in a Berlin factory space in 1969. It’s a gas giant of a record, votive and solemn in mood, cosmic in scale, yet built of recognizable materials: Mellotron, analog rumbles, and amplified flute. Somewhere between improvised music, contemporary classical, and the future direction of progressive rock, the early Tangerine Dream revealed themselves clear-sighted as to what was to come.

Read it all here.