An electronic-music band orignally made up of members from West Berlin, and the most notable band of the Berlin School. The band formed from musicians who had been active in West Berlin's psychedelic scene in the late 1960s, and who were seeking a new outlet for experimental music.
Founding and the 1970s Decade Edit
The band released its first album, Electronic Meditations, in 1970; the album was done using tape studio techniques as they had no proper synthesizers at the time, although founding member Edgar Froese did have a collection of hand-built electronic noisemakers that he used. The members of the early versions of the band had no experience with synths: Froese was a guitarist; Klaus Schulze originally played drums, as did his soon-to-be-replacement Chris Franke. Other early short-lived roles in the band were filled by cellist Conrad Schnitzer and vocalist Steve Schroyder.
However, after the first album, all the band members took up synthesizers and other electronics (notably the Mellotron) as their primary instrument, although they continued to add contributions from other instruments from time to time. (Most Tangerine Dream albums contain at least one guitar track from Froese.) 1971's Alpha Centuri and 1972's Zeit were transitional albums. In 1973 the band signed on with the then-fledgeling Virgin Records. By this time the band's lineup had stabilized with Froese, Franke, and Peter Baumann as permanent members, with fourth musicians being brought in for specific recordings. 1973's Phaedra marks the beginning of the "classic" Tangerine Dream sound, with evolving sounds and melody and use of sequencers. This album is often regarded as the beginning of Berlin School. Much to Virgin's surprise, the band's albums quickly became big sellers, despite receiving little mainstream radio airplay; progressive-rock stations, pirate radio, and word of mouth spread their fame. Through the 1970s, Tangerine Dream continued to sell records with their uncompromisingly experimental and largely ambient style, something that would be unthinkable today. In this period, they heavily used large modular systems (first Moog, and later Projekt Elektronik) driven by complex, custom-built sequencer systems, as well as modified Mellotrons and organs. Nearly all the music was instrumental. They also did extensive live tours in Europe. In their early days, some of their concerts were performed in complete darkness.
The band was prolific through the decade of the 1970s, releasing ten studio albums and three live albums from 1969 to 1980 (Froese also released two solo albums during this period). Peter Baumann left the band in 1977, after that year's Stratosfear, to pursue a more dance-oriented style. After singer/flautist Steve Joliffe (1978; he had previously appeared on Electronic Meditations) and drummer Klaus Kruger (1978-79) briefly filled the third member's seat, Johannes Schmoelling joined the band in 1979, returning the band to a lineup of all three members performing primarily on synth.
As the 1970s ended, the band was moving towards less improvisation and more structured compositions, some still very long, some shorter. The first album with Schmoelling on board was 1980s Tangram, which contained two side-long tracks, but 1982's Exit was a mix of longer and shorter tracks. The latter also marked a technology upgrade, with the band beginning to introduce some digital synthesizers and samplers, as well as recording technique improvements.
A major step forward in the band's public recognition took place in 1984. The group had been dabbling in movie soundtracks, and agreed to do some compositions for the soundtrack of the move Risky Business. A track dubbed "Love on a Real Train" wound up being used to accompany a key sequence in the movie, a sex scene taking place in a moving subway car. The typically eerie Tangerine Dream composition was a noticeable break in style from what would normally accompany such a scene, and movie watchers bought the soundtrack in droves to find out "who that band was". Sales of the band's back catalog in North America picked up instantly.
All was not well within the band, though. As Froese desired to move the band towards shorter songs and tighter compositions in the latter half of the 1980s, the other two members became disenchanted. Schmoelling departed in 1985, and after a brief period as a duo, Froese and Franke added Paul Haslinger in 1986. Franke then departed in 1987, leaving Froese as the only remaining member from the 1970s. After a period with guests in the third seat, Froese's son Jerome came on board in 1990.
1990s and 2000s Edit
Haslinger then departed, after 1990s Melrose. Edgar and Jerome continued as a duo with a number of session and guest musicians until saxophonist Linda Spa signed on in 1992. She became the first band member who did not play synths since 1978. This was the lineup that remained through the 1990s. Through the decade, the band began to focus more on live performance, cutting back on its studio output. 1999's Mars Polaris (on which Spa did not appear) would be, except for an ambitious and never-completed attempt to do a musical treatment of Dante's Inferno, its last full-length studio album until 2005's Jeanne D'Arc. Record label intrerest also waned during this period, and to maintain fan interest, the band released a large number of recordings from its valuts of live and unused studio recordings.
To support the live performances, in 2001 electronic percussionist Iris Camaa was added to the band. Thorsten Quaeschning was originally added in 2004 also to support live performance, but became the permanent third synthesist after Jerome Froese departed the next year. After this, the band resumed regular studio recording, and began a theme first used for the Inferno recordings of dividing their studio recordings into "Series" of thematically similar albums.
2010 to Present / Edgar Froese's death Edit
The last five years of Edgar Froese's life featured some notable collaborations. The band teamed with guitarist / astrophysicist Brian May for 2013's Starmus, and finally a long-rumored collaboration with Jean-Michel Jarre for 2014's Chandra. Further lineup changes occurred as Spa and Camaa departed at the end of 2014, and several other live performers moved in and out. In late 2014, synthesist / remixer Ulrich Schnauss and violinist Hoshiko Yamane came on board to form a new lineup with Froese and Quaeschning.
The remaining founding member, Froese, "underwent a change of cosmic address" on January 20, 2015. Although Jerome Froese stated at that time that he considered Tangerine Dream finished, the remaining band members, with the blessing of Froese's widow Bianca, would continue. An EP, "Quantum Key", featuring tracks laid out with Froese before his death, was released in November 2015. A follow-up album, Quantum Gate, is scheduled to be released in early 2016; a preview was made available online in October 2016, garnering mostly favorable reviews.
Although the band has released well over 100 albums, many electronic music aficionados view the albums with Froese, Franke, and either Baumann or Schmoelling to be their best work. Since leaving Tangerine Dream, Franke has concentrated mainly on film and television scores. Baumann, after being the founder and CEO of Private Music in the 1980s, is now out of the music business (although there are rumors that he will appear on Quantum Gate). Schulze has had a very notable career as a solo electronic musician. Schmoelling now owns a record label, Viktoriapark Records. He does soundtrack work and has performed with Jerome Froese.