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Best of Tangerine Dream:
Ricochet, Part 2

“Is it live or is it Memorex?” That is a question which has long plagued water cooler conversations among Tangerine Dream fandom. Ricochet was billed as a live album, but much of the music featured was largely recreated later in the studio. Tangerine Dream was known at the time for its improvised, psychedelic synth jams, but as time passed the line between what was performed and what was “assembled” using studio tech blurred significantly. Still, Ricochet paints a remarkable portrait of mid-70s TD vibe.

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For the 4th entry of “The Best of Tangerine Dream”, we wind the clock all the way back to 1975 with the release of two-part live album Ricochet.

Quibbles about how much was live or not aside, both parts of Ricochet are excellent, but the second part seems to loom large in TD “best of” lists compared to the first. First we get a lovely, waif-like piano melody starting things off on a remarkably “un-synthy” note. But before too long, mellotron flute sounds and other elements start to creep in, and then a driving square wave sequencer line ushers in the primary movement. Baroque fugue-like waves of polyphonic sequencer lines fade in and out at regular intervals, and we get vigorous brass and other mellotron leads mixed with additional synth and guitar lines to splendid effect.

And so it goes, with a weird little atonal interlude splitting this long section into two separate acts. What’s quite striking to me is just how sophisticated the sequenced elements are, compared to the previous releases of Phaedra and Rubycon. While those albums of course have much to recommend them from an analog synth lover’s perspective, I think it’s Ricochet that really underscores just how incredibly exciting this style could become. Some of the final moments in the last few minutes of the piece really showcase the dynamics possible with changing filters, sequence patterns, and ever-changing mix levels.

I think a lot of the Berlin School vibe we know and love from later eras can be traced straight back to Ricochet (and perhaps solidified on 1977’s Sorcerer soundtrack). While Ricochet is not my favorite Tangerine Dream live album (that would be either Logos or Poland depending on the mood), I always feel quite satisfied after a pleasant sit with Ricochet.

Coming up next in the series: Marakesh.

/// October 20, 2022 ///