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Best of Tangerine Dream:
Genesis of Precious Thoughts

The Quantum Era of Tangerine Dream had begun. Ulrich Schnauss’ influence was having a profound effect. Then founder and band leader Edgar Froese passed away. Eventually, Ulrich himself would move on (perhaps a solo artist once again). Sadly, the end of an era.

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For the 2nd entry of “The Best of Tangerine Dream”, I’d like to comment on a track—released in 2017—that I simultaneously love and hate.

I love that Genesis of Precious Thoughts is a shining example of the “Quantum Era” sound which TD founder Edgar Froese had tried to cultivate by bringing in electronic music producer Ulrich Schauss—an artist I already had massive respect for and whose work was deeply meaningful to me long before he joined TD.

And I hate that it’s the last track on the last studio album which features Ulrich Schnauss, released posthumously based on work already underway with Froese and crew.

Some of Tangerine Dream’s best work over the years happened in the midst of personnel transitions. Yesterday’s post on Tangram presents the creativity which sprung forth by the introduction of new band mate Johannes Schmoelling. 1986’s Underwater Sunlight was another fine work which introduced Paul Haslinger (who replaced Schmoelling in the lineup).

Fast forward to 2014 with the introduction of Ulrich Schnauss. When I first heard this news, my jaw dropped. Tangerine Dream’s reputation for quality and ingenuity had taken a real beating back in the 1990s (for reasons I don’t always agree with), but Edgar’s partnership throughout most of the 2000s into the 2010s with Thorsten Quaeschning had yielded some truly fine work which seemed to bridge a welcome stylistic gap between “old” TD and “new” TD. So to hear that a musician of Ulrich Schnauss’ calibre had joined the Dream, well it was wildly exciting. And the teaser of fruitful collaborations to come in the form of EP Mala Kunia was enticing indeed.

Sadly, on January 20, 2015, Edgar Froese left this mortal coil. It was clear he had been in a somewhat frail condition for a while (he was in his 70s at the time), but I don’t think any of us fans were expecting such an end so soon. And besides the sorrow of losing such a giant in the world of electronic music, the ultimate future of Tangerine Dream was unknown.

As we’ve since learned, Edgar had essentially “entrusted” Quaeschning with the keys to the kingdom as it were, to continue on in his footsteps. And so the band lives on. Without digressing too much at this stage, I’m not convinced of the merits of this idea. I personally feel that Ulrich Schnauss leaving the band in 2020 truly marked the end of an era. His style is so distinctive and unique, the integration of that into the Tangerine Dream sound was something special. With him gone—and Edgar too—things just aren’t the same. (With all due respect to Thorsten’s fine musicianship.)

And so we’re left with Mala Kunia and the two posthumous studio releases Quantum Key (an EP) and Quantum Gate. I’ll be covering a few other tracks from this collection later on in the series. But for now, I leave you with Genesis of Precious Thoughts. It’s a good track. I like it a lot. (I actually prefer the live version on Live At The Philharmony Szczecin - Poland 2016 which features an extended interlude between the second and third acts of the piece.)

Yet I wish…I wish it didn’t mark the end of the Quaeschning-Schnauss era. (A partnership which also provided us with the incredibly excellent album Synthwaves, featuring their names only and not an official part of TD canon. Cats and Dogs is one of my favorite synth compositions of all time!)

Coming up next in the series: Towards The Evening Star. Stay tuned.

/// October 18, 2022 ///