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Best of Tangerine Dream:
Comet’s Figure Head & Outland

Cold, dark, powerful synth soundscapes to underscore NASA’s mission to Mars—one that ultimately failed, but the music remains.

▶︎ Stream Outland on YouTube

For the 11th & 12th entries of “The Best of Tangerine Dream”, we salute the launch of NASA’s Mars Polar Lander mission on January 3, 1999—even while lamenting its mysterious demise before it ever reached its destination.

Thankfully, we still have some quite excellent music from synth maestros Jerome and Edgar Froese to commemorate the mission. Mars Polaris was written much like a soundtrack, only the film is missing. Jerome’s contributions in particular are uniformly creative and well-produced, and the two selections featured today, Comet’s Figure Head and Outland (The Colony), are among my favorite tracks of 90s TD.

Starting from the very opening of Comet’s Figure Head, we quickly realize that this is not the electro-Satrianiesque-guitar-rock or new-age noodling of proceeding albums. This is unapologetically synthesizer music, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering that by this time Jerome had not one but two Dream Mixes releases under his belt which had explored a variety of modern electronica genres. I was pleasantly surprised when I first picked up this album shortly after its release, as it was a welcome change of pace.

The style here feels like a fusion of Dream Mixes with a more classic TD sound along with many cinematic moments. It really does evoke the mood of a soundtrack, letting you fill in the blank visuals with your imagination. A couple of highlights for me: on Comet’s Figure Head, the bombastic drums hits, precise bass line, and flat second sequence starting at 3:54 with a subtle saw lead rounding out the mix—chef’s kiss! And then on Outland, starting at the 3:15 mark: an energetic percussive romp ensues eventually leading to one of my favorite “Jerome grooves” which he seems uniquely able to conjure up. (Sadly, it’s cut all too short and the next section resets the mood…)

I’ll cover more from Mars Polaris later in the series, but for now, enjoy these pieces from Tangerine Dream’s rousing soundtrack to deep space.

Coming up next in the series: Hunter Shot By A Yellow Rabbit. Stay tuned.

/// November 2, 2022 ///