Arguably, Tangerine Dream's Edgar Froese is to rock what Gunther Schuller is to jazz -- the German innovator who has fought to take his genre out of the streets and the smoky bars and move it to prestigious concert halls that usually host classical orchestras. Or, as a hip-hopper would say, Froese took rock out of the 'hood just as Schuller took jazz out of the 'hood. Tangerine Dream is essentially rock -- as in art rock and progressive rock -- but the classical-influenced, very European-sounding group certainly never pretended to be rock & roll. And Froese's outfit is as ambitious as ever on Inferno, a highly conceptual CD that is based on poet Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia (Dante's Inferno). Recorded live in a European church on October 7, 2001 -- 34 years after Tangerine Dream's formation -- Inferno finds Froese leading a lineup that includes his son, Jerome Froese, on keyboards and sequencers and Iris Kulterer on percussion and kettle drums. In addition to appearing on Inferno as a musician, Kulterer is heard as part of a seven-member female vocal choir. Together, the participants provide an enriching blend of art rock, electronica, classical, and European church music. Those who have in the past accused Tangerine Dream of being pretentious will most likely call Inferno pretentious; those who have been praising Froese's artistry will most likely assert that he should be proud to add Inferno to his resumé. It's all a matter of perspective -- what is ambitious, risk-taking, and visionary to one person is pretentious and bloated to another. Inferno is unlikely to win over anyone who isn't already a believer, but those who have admired Tangerine Dream's work over the years will, more than likely, find Inferno to be a welcome addition to the group's catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson