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Best of Tangerine Dream:
Towards the Evening Star

The Dream of the 90s was alive in Berlin, due to the fact that founder Edgar Froese’s son, Jerome, had joined the band in 1990 and gave TD a much needed jolt of adrenaline. It took a few years for Jerome to hit his stride, but the success of The Dream Mixes had proven his high-octane, dance-oriented approach to Dream-flavored electronica was going places. This track is a particularly satisfying blend of the house sound with a Mixes spin.

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For the 3rd entry of “The Best of Tangerine Dream”, I want to set the stage for why I personally love 1996’s Towards the Evening Star so much.

Because honestly, it’s really not the best thing they ever did—arguably not even the best track of the mid-90s timeframe. It’s technically OK. Parts of it withstand the test of time, but I could quibble about some of the now-very-dated loops, simplistic chord progressions, and cheesy digital synth riffs.

But then you get to 3:55, a signature demonstration of Jerome’s impressive ability to pull a cool groove out of his hat, or 5:00 with a lovely recapitulation of the opening theme, and this track really grows on you. It wafts over your ears like a tropical breeze.

It may sound strange to you now, but believe me when I say: in the late 90s when my Tangerine Dream fandom really took flight, this was one of my favorite tracks ever. I aspired to produce music which sounded as “effortless”, as suave as this. Where one section flows into the next (perhaps a bit too quickly…but I digress) and later folds back in on itself again. Where the intro and the outro form an appealing symmetry. Where you get taken on a 6½ minute sonic journey that feels simultaneously over too soon and also quite the ride.

You also need to understand that at the time this track was released on the Goblins Club album, music that placed synthesizer sequences at the forefront of the sound once again was a recent phenomenon for the band. TD had “lost its way” in the eyes of long-time fandom because it had strayed so far away from its Berlin School roots and ventured into predictable Satriani-esque Guitar Rock and New Age and whatever adjacent fads at the time. Oddly, it took Jerome’s foray into electronica dance styles like House, Trance, and Techno on the surprising release of The Dream Mixes to inject some much needed “synthiness” back into the, er, mix.

So for Towards the Evening Star to open with an unabashed sequenced motif and keep driving that sort of rhythm through most of the rest of the track was a welcome return to form, and one that would continue to chart a musical path for TD all the way into the 2000s.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this hits all the right nostalgic buttons for me. It was a moment in time for me which informed many more moments to follow. So while I can’t argue it’s Tangerine Dream’s best track, certainly not Jerome’s best track, and perhaps not even the best TD track of the mid-90s…well, I still think it rocks. Hence it makes the cut for my Best Of.

Coming up next in the series: Ricochet, Part 2. Stay tuned.

/// October 19, 2022 ///