Artist: Tangerine Dream
Album: Rubycon

Released: 21 March 1975
Label: Virgin

Rubycon Tangerine Dream
The 1970s decade of music is now a world apart from our own. A significant portion of the record buying public was supporting innovative music releases, and the Virgin Records label was feeding this demand with a range of titles that would eventually attain classic status among fans of Rock n' Roll as well as the new genre of Spacemusic. Throughout the early 1970s Tangerine Dream and their contemporaries in Berlin began to establish a new musical form. The previously known trends in music would not allow these groups to properly express themselves, and what with electronic music synthesizer technologies becoming more available a groundbreaking new music manifested itself - one which used a new futuristic instrument and was fueled by a passionate disengagement with the past. After several early releases of surreal sound collage Tangerine Dream produced the groundbreaking Phaedra (1974). Art belongs to the subconscious and this album attempted to sonically portray this enigmatic region of the mind. While Phaedra seemed like a sound structure that the listener was miraculously passing through the following album Rubycon (1975) feels as though it is generating its own engulfing atmosphere each time it is played. Upon first hearing the tracks on Phaedra we find an experimental edge to them, but by the time TD went into the studio to make Rubycon (or even Forese's solo album Epsilon in Malaysian Pale) the randomness of their avant-garde edge had coalesced into a suite-like form and a somewhat linear compositional arc - fitted nicely into the 17 minute duration of one side of a 33 1/3 RPM long play record album. The three separate sections of Rubycon Part 1 and Part 2, although significantly different from one another, worked together to form a fascinating whole. Each part begins with an eerie amorphous interlude of drones, metallic tones and wondrously modulated aural accents. The mounting tension resolves with the emergence of an ever repeating pattern of echoing bass notes, above which is played the lilting melody of a soft synthesizer lead. The minimalist sequence runs on, then gradually brightens as individual notes are transposed and repeated - minutely altering the pattern and quickening the music's pulse. Transitioning out of this energetic phase the magical beauty of the closing section solemnly brings the work to its conclusion. The overall effect offered a strange new kind of cognitive disengagement - the unusual idea of traveling while being still, which has yet to be fully explained or replicated by musicians who have followed. The generations after Rubycon's may come close to achieving the evocative mood and dark space of this piece, but never the innocence. New musical territory can only be discovered once - and Rubycon looms as the standard ever out of reach.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   3 January 2014

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