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Album #365: Tangerine Dream – Phaedra

  • Released: 1974
  • Origin: Berlin, Germany
  • Label: Virgin
  • Best Track: Phaedra

The penultimate entry of this project is inspired by the Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch. Phaedra is recommended to the protagonist Stefan by video game creator Colin Ritman, who is unimpressed to hear that Stefan had Thompson Twins’ Into the Gap on his walkman (funnily enough, that album was #48 on here).

The album is the fifth from German electronic band Tangerine Dream, and arguably their breakthrough with it being the first released on Virgin. Despite being abstract ambient music and consisting of just four tracks (the first of them 17 minutes long), Phaedra somehow managed to make a dent in the UK Top 20 albums in April 1974.

Probably because it’s very good. I imagine it has a narcotic quality, and though I’ve barely done drugs at all (certainly nothing that’s a stimulant anyway), but the music is disorientating even stone cold sober. It’s the shifts in volume and intensity, the pulsating synth and the echoing weirdness, particularly in the long, long title track.

Second track ‘Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares’ is, despite its name, probably less terrifying and more imposing and mesmeric, while ‘Movements of a Visionary’ is effervescent and hallucinatory. Closer ‘Sequent C’, meanwhile, is more pared down and feels semi-classical.

I enjoy this kind of stuff. Nowhere near as catchy as ‘Hold Me Now’, but a better listen than ‘Into the Gap’ all in all!

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