Saturday, 30 September 2017

QUANTUM GATE - a track by track review

SENSING ELEMENTS: Separated into three distinct parts this is the longest track on the album. The opening section is by Thorsten and a wonderfully atmospheric start it makes, full of bouncing bassy percussives mixed with metallic modular drones – and then a skipping high-frequency sequence starts, crashes rumble around it as it gains in presence and low synth chords create movement underneath. The sequence builds becoming more strident and soon a wonderfully breathy tone is introduced – crying out in billows of reverb. Echo has now been added to the sequence and notes ripple across the stereo sound-stage. At the three-minute mark, a vintage Solina string-synth makes an appearance with a melancholic melody, which soon meanders giving it a slightly improvised feel. Chords are held – and the bones of the track are now apparent; echoing bass and rhythmic pulse pulls the music forward…and then we are into Edgar’s section with a long processed bass sequence into which Thorsten’s higher sequence bleeds until it fades leaving the bass loops to build with ominous chords and piano notes. Modulated fizzing synths add interest. On and on the piece loops building to a rolling bass loop as guitar layers are added - cycling round as Thorsten’s high sequence once again returns and the tracks starts to jump from key to key, relentless as echoes and blankets of sound wash over the top, building, and building. Things briefly die away and now it’s Ulrich’s turn to take center stage with a sinuously bending bass sequence, added piano-like notes and silky string tones wich give way to a more percussive quality. Volume builds and chords mark slippery key changes, the treble becomes harsher, ghostly chords hang underneath, a few bass drum hits and suddenly it’s over and it fades into the distance. 

ROLL THE SEVEN TWICE: an up-tempo rolling bass sequencer (Ulrich echoing Edgar’s mid-frequency sequences and bouncy beats) with distant reverb drenched crashes, dynamically builds to a melodic climax meets down-tempo echoing guitar false finale. The track more or less repeats twice, but the second time comes back with a subtle rhythmic variation care of Detroit once again building to an emotional close with lush chords and Thorsten’s reverb-drenched guitar. A foot-tapping classic that only Tangerine Dream could pull-off. 

GRANULAR BLANKETS: an epic track melding subtle harmonics, distant steel drum and huge crunchy beats over the usual synths and guitar. It morphs from slow & ghostly to fuzzed guitar-shuffle-beat post-rock stomping grandeur as chords shift underneath. One of the album’s true highlights.

IT IS TIME TO LEAVE WHEN EVERYONE IS DANCING: the only track composed solely by Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss. From the foot-tapping opening (from Thorsten) – full of buzzy sequences rippling over a 4/4 beat, lush descending chords and an 80’s bass line to kill for to the closing minutes of euphoric melodies (from Ulrich) this is an utter treat. If this was remixed for the dance floor I predict that the TD could have a club hit on their hands. 

IDENTITY PROVEN MATRIX: eerie ambiance – which builds and then finally kicks in with a stomping rhythm with orchestral and guitar interjections. Around a minute and a half mark things really take off into another stomping crowd pleaser – and no your hi-fi isn’t broken! 

NON-LOCALITY DESTINATION: a sprawling work bearing the trade-mark sounds and silvery chord progressions of Edgar complete with his trade -mark guitar, but the track wrong foots you even though at times it returns to the familiar, new twists and turns are added. 

PROTON BONFIRE: based on the many sequences that Edgar left behind, the track is jaw-droppingly beautiful, from lush almost fragile ethereal intro, through a series of ever more wonderful sequences, melodic repeated bass lines, chugging melodic mid-section to a truly emotional close care of Hoshiko Yamane’s almost ghostly violin melody. 

TEAR DOWN THE GREY SKIES: A bubbling and buzzing bass sequence takes hold after a brief intro of Mellotron-like chords (think Edgar’s solo album ‘Macula Transfer’) Ulrich supplying the main melody but the chord changes are pure Edgar, energy builds as Hoshiko’s violin comes to the fore. Again the main theme returns for a finale coda towards the end. 

GENESIS OF PRECIOUS THOUGHTS: The album closes how it began with a three-part track, once again showcasing the talents of Thorsten, then Edgar and finally Ulrich. The track goes through many twists and turns, from bubbling sequences over vintage string synths, crashing percussion, through to a rumbling bass mid-section (once again with Hoshiko adding an extra dimension) and lastly a nod to the ‘good old days’ when things went out of tune before finally returning to the present and Ulrich’s club pleaser finale. Something for every TD fan. 

QUANTUM GATE utterly justifies Edgar’s wish to that the band continues after his death and that he selected the right people to complete his musical legacy. These three musicians have taken Edgar’s ideas and are propelling the band into the future with a completely contemporary sound. Still relevant after 50 years, the Dream has only just begun.

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