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Madcap's Flaming Duty
Artist: Tangerine Dream
Label: Eastgate Records
Length: 12 tracks/72:45

Founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese in Berlin, Germany, Tangerine Dream has progressed through a full three dozen lineups and four distinct stages of development. Considered electronic music groundbreakers, the band celebrates 40 years on the scene with Madcap's Flaming Duty.

Dedicated to the influential spirit of a legendary musical mind of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, Edgar Froese continues to create flowing soundscapes, but with Madcap's_ he has added the strong vocal presence of Chris Hausl. All the music is written by Edgar Froese and Thorsten Quaeschning.

The lyrics for each of the songs here are adapted from English and American poets from 17th and 18th century literature by Bianca F. Acquaye. Let me say that I am not a literary scholar. My interpretations of these Masters' words may be well off the mark, so forgive me.

Opener "Astrophel and Stella"--adapted from by Sir Philip Sidney's _Voices At A Window_--concerns a young man in love with an unattainable young woman. She knows of his love, and occasionally smiles at him and acknowledges him. On the whole, though, she plays the role of the courtly lover and spurns his affection and attentions. Musically, a solo, bluesy harmonica introduces us to the proceedings. The scene is further set by Froese and company's aural beds of keyboards and understated percussion.

Dante G. Rossetti's "The Blessed Damozel" is a beautiful story of how two lovers are separated by the death of the Damozel and how she wishes to enter paradise, but only if she can do so in the company of her beloved. Thorston Quaeschning's equally graceful melody matches perfectly.

"Solution of All Problems" has a definite Jim Morrison twist to it circa "American Prayer." Emerson's monumental words that place his love of nature above his love for the Church are spoken/sung in Hausl's rich baritone over a bed of percolating percussion while being supported by oceans of cascading sound.

There are challenges here. At first everything seems to run together--the soundscapes drone and Hausl's timbre and use of range seem monotonous. The cadence of the lyrics isn't usual and tedious at the outset. This is not aided by the fact that the lyrics are not here--and they are very necessary to help this project truly rise above previous works.

But Madcap's Flaming Duty is a serious, demanding listen. You must give Madcap time. Soon each song takes on its individuality. The wondrous words of Ralph Waldon Emerson, William Blake, Walt Whitman and Shelley combine with Froese's willowy, washing waterfalls for a truly transporting musical experience that will take the listener somewhere new with each playing.

Bob Felberg
November 11, 2007


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