RIP: Edgar Froese

The leader of Tangerine Dream has passed:

Edgar Froese, who has died aged 70, was the founder and mastermind of the Berlin-based band Tangerine Dream, a prolific solo artist, and one of the most influential pioneers of electronic music. That term, however, was one that Froese rejected. “We don’t like what we do to be called ‘electronic music’,” he insisted. “We are people making music, not machines. We are writing songs and compositions and then translate them with synthesizers … but also other instruments.”

This philosophy would enable Tangerine Dream to encompass various kinds of classical, avant-garde and minimalist influences within their music as well as heavy rock and ambient atmospheres, and it set Froese and Tangerine Dream apart from other “Krautrock” bands such as Neu! or Kraftwerk, whose so-called “motorik” beats emphasised machine-like repetition. Froese’s versatility and artistic inquisitiveness drove Tangerine Dream to create more than 100 studio albums; his catalogue of more than 20 solo albums included Macula Transfer (1976), Stuntman (1979), Kamikaze 1989) and the four-volume series Ambient Highway (2003).

After scoring William Friedkin’s 1977 thriller Sorcerer, Tangerine Dream pursued a parallel career as creators of movie soundtracks, working on titles including Michael Mann’s Thief (1981), the Tom Cruise vehicle Risky Business (1983), Firestarter (1984), Legend (1985) and Miracle Mile (1988). In 2013, Froese and Tangerine Dream were major contributors to the soundtrack of the computer game Grand Theft Auto V…

It was thanks to the enthusiasm of Friedkin that Tangerine Dream developed a second life as soundtrack composers. Friedkin first heard the group while he was in Munich for the opening of his 1973 film The Exorcist, after which he gave them a script for his upcoming movie Sorcerer (1977). Friedkin recalled how he was filming “in the middle of a primeval forest in the Dominican Republic” when a tape of music arrived from the band. This became the score of Sorcerer, despite the fact that the musicians had not glimpsed a single frame of the film. It was Tangerine Dream’s first effort at film music, but they found it came naturally and it was a path they pursued into the new millennium…

Froese, a vegetarian who eschewed drugs, tobacco and alcohol, had recently finished his autobiography, Tangerine Dream: Force Majeure, 1967-2014, to be published later this year.

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