For many people Green Desert was the great lost Tangerine Dream (TD) album. It was the missing link between Atem (1973, see review) and Phaedra (1974) that was gathering dust upon the shelves from 1973 till 1986. According to the liner notes this album was recorded in 1973 between Atem and Phaedra with the only purpose of being a taster for Richard Branson's Virgin-label. This strategy worked as TD were signed to a five year record deal. The money they received was used to invest in new equipment and they promptly made Phaedra with it. Green Desert was set aside until Edgar Froese dug it out of the archives in 1984. He couldn't resist leaving the original tapes the way they were recorded originally. So he added quite a lot of overdubs with equipment that wasn't available yet at the time it was initially recorded.
Thanks to an excellent new reissue of the original album, I had the chance to listen to it. Well, I have to admit that Green Desert doesn't sound like a transition album, but this could be explained by the absence of Peter Baumann, who left TD in 1973 for a few months to travel around Asia with his girlfriend. Only Chris Franke (percussion, VCS3 synth, PRX II rhythm controller) and Edgar Froese (Mellotron, guitar, Solina-strings, MiniMoog, phaser) recorded this album and as a consequence Green Desert is the only TD-record made by these two musicians.
The album opens with the title track which was the A-side of the original vinyl album. It's a broody, atmospheric piece which takes ages to get going, but it features some fine guitar work by Edgar Froese. As the track develops, the drum sequences become more dominant and thus acquire a harder edge. The track also contains some wonderful Mellotron and Solina-strings parts. Next track White Clouds can be seen as the most rhythmic track on the album containing hints of African music due to the strong percussion parts. However, this track contains an overall mellow sound. On Astral Voyager you'll hear sequencer parts which reminded me of the sequencer on The Who's Baba O'Riley and Pink Floyd's On The Run. The final track Indian Summer contains the sound of the waves. It's a very mellow piece on which the Solina-strings and some synthesizers take the lead from time to time. No bonus tracks are added to this reissue.
All in all, Green Desert is a decent album made by Edgar Froese and Chris Franke. I would not describe it as a lost masterpiece, but those who appreciate the music of TD recorded in the seventies and eighties may find this album rewarding, just like me.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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