I'm giving this four-sided double LP beast of a record a spin today. Zeit by Tangerine Dream. It's brimming over with dark ambient drones and claustrophobic moods. Hauntingly bleak and beautiful.

I don't know what it is with these German records from the 70's but they seem to blend in with the environment. I once put on NEU!'s debut album and to my delight the drones of 'Hallogallo' joined in unison with a drone emitting from the medicine factory across the street from where we live.

Today, a similar thing happened when the haunting drones of Zeit were joined by an alarm siren from the same medicine factory across the street. Don't know what the alarm siren meant, but I've closed the windows for now. There might be some chemical leak or something. I don't know. I noticed several workers standing outside. But there was a 2nd alarm siren sounding and that usually means the potential danger is over.

The sound of the alarm siren is similar to the nationwide alarm sirens that are tested in May each year here in Denmark. Those sirens are a remnant from the cold war and were installed in order to warn people of catastrophies such as nuclear attacks. The sirens have an unnerving, menacing quality to them. Both the sound itself and the meaning it carries.

Some of those things are found in Zeit. It's a dark album. I've already said that, but it bears repeating.

Another thing I love about Tangerine Dream's records from the 70's is the strong futuristic mood of it all. It's something they share with other German bands from the era like Kraftwerk, NEU! and Cluster. Somehow I think the electronic music from those days has a lot more futuristic potential to it than most of what you hear nowadays. It seems like you have to go back to get forward. Back to the future!

It might have something to do with the fact that synthesizers etc. were hard to come by back then and really expensive. I read somewhere that buying a Moog synthesizer in Germany in the 70's was akin to investing in a Volkswagen car. So those guys were pretty dedicated when they went about their business making insane, unheard sounds and releasing them on records like Zeit.

Today we have pretty much every electronic tool imaginable available in our laptops. Which is awesome but also means that electronic music risks becoming kind of mundane and not-so-futuristic-anymore.

Which brings me to the new Daft Punk album Random Access Memories where they most definitely go backwards to go forward, using legendary recording studios and respected live studio musicians instead of laptops and sequencers to (re)create a sound for the future. A sound referencing all sorts of 70's and 80's music. Disco and Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder and the early synth and sequencer stuff happening back then. It's an incredible album, you know. Euphoric and fun and uplifting like Discovery was twelve years ago.

It also brings me to Kraftwerk who are currently on tour doing live curating of their back catalogue. We'll see them live at Roskilde Festival in less than two weeks time. We've bought one day tickets for Sunday at Roskilde where Kraftwerk will be closing the Orange Stage, complete with 3D visuals and an amazing repertoire of timeless songs that to my ears sound just a futuristic and unlimited as they did 40 years ago.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now it's Zeit and Zeit is the opposite of optimism. Bleak and dark and introverted. And just as good.

The album in full:

A krautrock DJ mix I did two years ago:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this blog post!

    And I like your writing and way of using words, like.."I think the electronic music from those days has a lot more futuristic potential to it than most of what you hear nowadays. It seems like you have to go back to get forward. Back to the future!"
    - Mats