On January 31, 1980, the German electronic music group Tangerine Dream (TD) gave two concerts to an audience of approximately three thousand people in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin. This was a unique concert since TD was the first western group who was allowed by the communist government of the German Democratic Republic to play in East Berlin. The concert was called 'The performance behind the Iron Curtain'. In 1980, the music performed during this concert appeared on the East German record label Amiga as Quichotte. Six years later the album was renamed Pergamon and released in the rest of the world on Virgin Records.
The music on Pergamon is a selection of the two live concerts at the Palast der Republik. The second of the two original concerts is available as Tangerine Tree, volume 17. The original title Quichotte refers to the film version of Don Quixote that was shown in a cinema nearby the venue during one of the concerts. The new title refers to the Pergamon Museum located in East Berlin in the vicinity of the Palast der Republik. The legendary 'performance behind the Iron Curtain' was also the first live appearance of Johannes Schmoelling, who had replaced Peter Baumann. The concert took place just a few weeks after he joined TD in late 1979 and a few months before the release of the album Tangram (1980). The other musicians at the time were Edgar Froese (keyboards, guitars) and Chris Franke (keyboards). The concert was part of the 22nd 'DT64-Jugendkonzert' series, and the complete evening show was broadcasted on the East German radio in February 1980 and again later on in 1989.
Remixed excerpts from Quichotte, part 1 were used for the soundtrack Wavelength. The piano solo in this part has been released on other albums as Pergamon (Piano Part) and was re-recorded as Pergamon Sphere.
After listening to the album it's easy for me to conclude that Pergamon is the definite live album of TD in the eighties. It consists of two strong pieces of music: Quichotte, part 1 and part 2. The first piece is largely based on the themes of the Tangram-album; it starts rather mellow slightly in the vein of new age music. The intro reminded me of the music made by the German band Anyone's Daughter. On their albums recorded in the eighties one could enjoy the same kind of beautiful and melodic piano passages. It continues with strong keyboard textures followed by repetitive, but melodic sequencers. A synthesizer plays an excellent solo which initially sounds like an oboe; a second synthesizer gets all the room for another fine melodic solo. The dreamy keyboard sounds made by layers of string synthesizers create a perfect atmosphere on which even more synthesizers are allowed to shine.
Maybe Quichotte, part 2 is even better than the first part. This real jewel starts with very psychedelic, strange and intense streams of keyboards again followed by repetitive, melodic sequencers. The best part of this track is next: the strong chords performed on the brass synthesizers combined with a fine drum pattern: a perfect setting for Froese to deliver an excellent guitar solo! And if that isn't enough another strong synthesizer solo is next. Very smoothly the guitar parts turn into synthesizer parts proving how professional these musicians were while performing their music live on stage! After more repetitive sequencer parts this piece ends rather mellow.
Pergamon is not only highly recommended to all fans of Tangerine Dream, but also many prog heads will enjoy this live album. The album particularly shows that TD could perform very melodic music during live concerts, music that can be easily pigeon-holed as being progressive rock music because of the excellent performed solos both on the electric guitar and the synthesizers.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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