“In the beginning, I didn’t know anything about synthesizers. I still don’t know a whole lot about them, but I knew that they had a particular sound that appealed to me. I suppose I got real excited about synthesizers when I heard the score that Tangerine Dream did for [1977’s] Sorcerer. That’s just a really highly underrated movie with a brilliant score. It was all synths. It doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard.” – John Carpenter to Rolling Stone
The direct and residual influence of Tangerine Dream and it’s founder, Edgar Froese, will be felt for centuries. Most people wouldn’t even flinch at the mention of Froese’s name and would even chuckle at the mere idea that there was actually a band that went by the Tangerine Dream moniker. But it makes sense that such an essential and core influence, like Tangerine Dream, would be buried under the generational referential waves of derivative work that followed, not only in it’s presence, but in it’s wake.
Edgar Froese died last week. He passed from a pulmonary embolism and though most people will never know his name, the legacy of his work exists in almost everything around us today. His most seminal work would be his composition for the Michael Mann film, Thief. This film and it’s score would define the post modern view of the 80’s that we reference today.
Which, in of itself, is a bizarre phenomenon. There’s so much awesome shit from the 80’s. You could reference punk, goth, post punk or even Wham. The myriad of pop culture references are so dense and expansive that current generations even screw it up and make 80’s references at 90’s themed dipshit prom parties. But looking back, when people look to reference and define the 80’s, artists reference Thief, Risky Business, Firestarter, Legend, and derivative soundtracks by John Carpenter. That Delorian metallic glistening synth sheen, that Kavinsky and Nicolas Winding Refn would bite for the film, Drive, even kicked off another exponentially derivative wave that we are still feeling today in popular EDM music, video games, graphic design, marketing, and film.
Edgar Froese’ touch has so permeated the lexicon and membrane of our culture that we can’t even differentiate his voice from the 80’s. As we continue to move past that decade the aesthetic continues to tighten and fixate on his work making his legacy essential. I’ll close with a quote from Edgar Froese’ obituary in Stereogum by Michael Mann, explaining that moment of inspiration that caused him to fixate on Froese’ work.
“Earlier, I had been divided between choosing music regionally native to Thief, Chicago Blues, or going with a completely electronic score. The choice was intimidating because two very different motion picture experiences would result. Right then, the work of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Faust was an explosion of experimental and rich material from a young generation coming of age out of the ruins and separating itself from WWII Germany. It was the cutting edge of electronic music. And, it had content. It wasn’t sonic atmospheres. There was nothing in the UK or the States like it.”- Michael Mann