Tangerine Dream

Exit

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Exit marks the beginning of a new phase in Tangerine Dream's music: Gone were the side-long, sequencer-led journeys, replaced by topical pieces that were more self-contained in scope, more contemporary in sound. Johannes Schmoelling's influence is really felt for the first time here; Tangram, for all its crispness and melody, was simply a refinement of Force Majeure's principles, and the soundtrack to Thief not an album proper. On Exit, listeners are introduced to electronic music's next generation, notably on "Choronzon" and "Network 23," which brought the sound of the dancefloor into the mix (it hasn't left since). That's not to suggest that Tangerine Dream has stopped creating eerie, evocative music; both "Pilots of Purple Twilight" and the stately "Exit" will feel familiar to fans, and the opening "Kiew Mission" is a captivating commentary on nuclear war that includes vocals after a sort (a woman's voice reading locations in Russian). Exit ends on a surprisingly dark note, the alien and foreboding "Remote Viewing." It's on this track more than any other that Tangerine Dream returns to its past, invoking Phaedra and the sequencer-driven works that followed, as if to tell fans that Exit's changes weren't the result of a new band, just a new direction. With one foot in the excesses of the past and one clearly on the road to a more concise sound, Exit is a transitional work. As Schmoelling and, later, Paul Haslinger exerted their influence on Tangerine Dream's music, the emphasis shifted from dark and moody commentary to more positive subjects. It's worth noting that Edgar Froese's social conscience fuels much of Exit -- copies of the record were made available to a cross-section of Russian citizens free of charge to promote an open exchange of ideas at a time when nuclear annihilation was taken seriously. Future albums channeled Froese's activism to environmental concerns, which dovetailed with the band's by-then new age sensibilities. Both here and on White Eagle, Tangerine Dream ushers in the promise and the peril of a new world where reality has caught up with science fiction. Perhaps with such a message, the medium needed to be simpler and more direct. (A note to collectors: Different cover art appears on the Virgin and Elektra releases.)

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