Phaedra is the fifth studio album by German electronic music group Tangerine Dream. It was recorded during November 1973 at The Manor in Shipton-on-Cherwell, England and released on 20 February 1974 through Virgin Records. This is the first Tangerine Dream album to feature their now classic sequencer-driven sound, which is considered to have greatly influenced the Berlin School genre.[3]

1974 LP album cover, by Edgar Froese
Studio album by
Released20 February 1974 (1974-02-20)
RecordedNovember – December 1973
StudioThe Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, England
ProducerEdgar Froese
Tangerine Dream chronology

The album marked the beginning of the group's international success and was their first album released on the Virgin label. It achieved six-figure sales in the UK, reaching number 15 in the UK Albums Chart in a 15-week run,[6] with virtually no airplay, only by strong word of mouth. It also earned the group a gold disc in seven countries,[7] though in their native Germany it sold barely 6,000 units.[8] The album title refers to Phaedra of Greek mythology.

Background and recording edit

On hearing a set of recordings Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke had made earlier in the year at Skyline Studios in Berlin, Virgin Records' Richard Branson gave them a contract and encouraged them to come to England. After purchasing a modular Moog synthesizer with their advance, in late 1973 the group came to The Manor Studio, in Oxfordshire to begin recording.[9] The entire album was completed in less than six weeks, with some of the music recorded with the help of Froese's wife, Monique. Interviewed by Mark J. Prendergast, Froese recalled:

Phaedra was the first album in which many things had to be structured. The reason was that we were using the Moog sequencer (all driving bass notes) for the first time. Just tuning the instrument took several hours each day, because at the time there were no pre-sets or memory banks. We worked each day from 11 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock at night. By the 11th day we barely had 6 minutes of music on tape. Technically everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The tape machine broke down, there were repeated mixing console failures and the speakers were damaged because of the unusually low frequencies of the bass notes. After 12 days of this we were completely knackered. Fortunately, after a two-day break in the countryside a new start brought a breakthrough. "Mysterious Semblance" was recorded on Dec 4th. Pete and Chris were asleep after a long day's recording session so I invited my wife, Monique, into the studio. I called in the studio engineer and recorded it in one take on a double-keyboarded Mellotron while Monique turned the knobs on a phasing device. This piece is on the record exactly as it was recorded that day. And this practice was to continue for the rest of the session.[9]

Content edit

The title track was originally based on an improvisation recorded in the studio, and unintentionally exhibits one of the limitations of the analog equipment used at the time. As the equipment warmed up, some of the oscillators began to detune (they were highly temperature-sensitive), which was responsible for some of the changes in the music towards the end of the piece.

Both the title track and "Movements of a Visionary" rely on Franke's use of the Moog analog sequencer as a substitute for bass guitar. "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares" features Froese soloing on a Mellotron which is treated by slowly sweeping filter effects. "Sequent C'" is a short piece by Peter Baumann on recorder, with tape echo.

The sleeve design and cover painting are by Froese.[10]

Style and reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
Head Heritagepositive[11]

The All Music Guide to Electronica describes the album as a milestone for the band as "one of the most important, artistic, and exciting works in the history of electronic music".[12] Phaedra is commonly cited as one of Tangerine Dream's best albums[13][14] and is listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[15] In the Q and Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album also came in at 38 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[16]

Writing in his 2000 Ambient Century, Mark J. Prendergast describes the title track: "At over 17 minutes it conveyed feelings of the cosmos, of giant suns exploding, of huge ocean movements, of mythological lands, of eddies and drifts. Layer upon layer of futuristic sounds piled one on top of the other until the whole thing climaxes in some interstellar void."[9]

In popular culture edit

The title track and "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares" are both featured in the 2018 interactive Netflix film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. The protagonist Stefan receives a list of music recommendations, featuring such artists as Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream, Bauhaus and The Cure. After thumbing through the records in the record shop, Stefan has to decide between two albums: Tangerine Dream's Phaedra and Isao Tomita's The Bermuda Triangle.[17]

Track listing edit

Side A
1."Phaedra"Froese, Franke, Baumann17:39
Side B
1."Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares"Froese9:55
2."Movements of a Visionary"Froese, Franke, Baumann7:56
3."Sequent C'"Baumann2:13

Note: Some CD releases from 1995 and 2005 have slightly different lengths.

A New CD version was issued in 2019 re-mastered from the original master tapes. It contained the extra bonus tracks "Phaedra" and "Sequent C'", both being stereo remixes by Steven Wilson.

Personnel edit

Musicians edit

Technical edit

Charts edit

Chart (1974) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[18] 13
UK Albums Chart 15[6]
US Billboard 200 196[citation needed]

Single edit

A promotional single was released in 1974, in the U.S, on the Virgin label, with excerpts of two tracks.[19][20]

1."Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares"4:30

References edit

  1. ^ a b Bush, John. Phaedra - Tangerine Dream at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b c Incognito, Daniel. "Tangerine Dream: Phaedra". Sputnikmusic.
  3. ^ a b Harden, Alexander (Spring 2016). "Kosmische Musik and Its Techno-Social Context". IASPM Journal. 6 (2): 155–173. doi:10.5429/2079-3871(2016)v6i2.9en. ISSN 2079-3871.
  4. ^ Listed in "A Classic Space Music Countdown to Liftoff: 10 Essential classic space music albums, counting down from 10 to 1" Time Warped in Space by Echoes Radio producer and host, John Diliberto Archived 2007-04-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company - Tangerine Dream - Phaedra".
  7. ^ Irvin, Jim (2007). The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion (4th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 326. ISBN 978-1841959733.
  8. ^ Stump, Paul (1999). Digital Gothic: A Critical Discography of Tangerine Dream. Firefly Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 0-946719-18-7.
  9. ^ a b c Mark J. Prendergast (2013). "Tangerine Dream: Remembering the Dream". The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Phaedra". Connolly & Company.
  11. ^ "Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage | Unsung | Reviews | Tangerine Dream – Phaedra". June 2000.
  12. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 505. ISBN 0879306289.
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick, Rob; Roland, Mark (2006). Gods of Rock. New York: Main Street. p. 107. ISBN 1402736738.
  14. ^ Abramowitz, Ari (2004). The Pockit Rockit Music Finder. New York: Music Guru. p. 44. ISBN 0975978705.
  15. ^ Dimery, Robert (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Rizzoli. p. 323. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  16. ^ "Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock - 40 Cosmic Rock Albums". Q. July 2005. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  17. ^ Suarez, Gary. "In 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,' Should You Pick Tangerine Dream Or Tomita?". Forbes. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 304. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ Berling, Michael (29 September 2016). "Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares/Phaedra". Voices in the Net.
  20. ^ "Tangerine Dream - Phaedra".

External links edit