Tyranny of Beauty in an Ambient Tangerine Dream

The idea of progressive rock appeals to me. Take elements of classical and jazz and blend them into some variation of rock and make it, well, progressive. Since it requires composing, arranging, and performing skills beyond that of 3-chord blues and pop bands, it’s not always executed well. For myself, since I’m as fussy and opinionated about jazz and classical as I am about any other genre, I’m three times as fussy about prog rock.

Tangerine Dream was a pleasant surprise. In the early 90s a friend at work mentioned them, assuming because of my passion for music that I knew who there were. I didn’t. He loaned me his copy of Tyranny of Beauty. I soon learned.

At that time, I was very much not a fan of metal guitar, or of thumping danceable beats. I giggled at myself for liking this music which was filled with both. All instrumentals, the melodies were clear. This is not rambling self-indulgence, not the prog rock equivalent of free jazz. While it has an improvised feel, the result is more like the arrangement of a classical piece: themes, constantly revised and revisited, woven in harmony but with the thread of every moment included.

When I’m doing creative work like graphic design or complex coding, Tangerine Dream, often Tyranny of Beauty, is my music of choice. When I’m in the mood to branch out, there are 100 albums to choose from, recorded over the past 40 years by Edgar Froese and a variable roster of others.

Have a listen to Warsaw in the Sun or Dominion from the iBox 4-CD collection, or Little Blonde in the Park of Attractions from Tyranny of Beauty. If you prefer something less rambunctious, try Largo, the final track on that album. It’s peaceful, nearly traditional classical music. Froese was doing ambient music long before Brian Eno brought it to mainstream.

An album every 4 or 5 months for 40 years. That’s a lot of passion. A lot of willingness to just create something. A lot of overcoming fear of failure and showing up and doing the work.

That’s a lot of art.

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