Edgar Willmar Froese passed away on 20th January 2015 at the age of 70 as a result of a pulmonary embolism. Between the late 60s and his death, he put his mark upon over a hundred recordings with Tangerine Dream, as well as releasing several dozen solo albums (albums which have rarely been given their due; some of which were not available in their original mixes on CD for many years).
Froese wasn’t just a musician and composer, he was a visionary and pioneer. When he formed Tangerine Dream in the late 60s, for young people in Germany, there was no music they could call their own. From a musical year zero, Froese and a collection of unrelated artists across the country began experimenting with electronic sounds and created a musical soundtrack they could call their own. In the early 70s, Tangerine Dream’s music sounded like little that had gone before; by the late 70s, their heavily synth based soundscapes were more accessible yet still sounded futuristic. Throughout the 80s and beyond, the band continued to make atmospheric and largely instrumental sounds under the guidance of Froese, whose vision never faded.
Froese’s influence can be heard in the art rock of Roxy Music, in the minimalism of Brian Eno’s ambient sounds and in Bowie’s Berlin work, most specifically his 1977 masterpiece ‘Low’, combining synth heavy songs alongside droning instrumentals; a work that sounds as striking at the time of Froese’s death as it did upon release. In turn, Froese influenced many 80s synth bands, particularly the early Ultravox and Human League.
Edgar Froese’s recorded output is so vast, it would take only the most devoted to ever hear it all – especially in regular rotation – but even so, the best Tangerine Dream works are releases that keep giving, multi-layered works which allow the listener to uncover something new and magical with each play.
No amount of words will ever express the hole Edgar Froese has left behind in the world of electronica. His works are best experienced first hand. Below are a few Tangerine Dream works to be enjoyed, alongside an excellent BBC documentary which gives a great insight into Froese’s musical background and beginnings.