10 Best Tangerine Dream Albums From Number Six of 20 Icons of Echoes

On the air I said I’d pick five, but I decided to go with ten.

Phaedra and Rubycon have always been a pair for me and  that pair is half of a quartet with Ricochet and Stratosfear.   These are the signature Dream albums, the blueprint for every retro-space artist out there, the sound that influenced ambient, techno, and more.   The classic trio of Edgar Froese, Christoph Franke and Peter Baumann found the secret of rubber band sequencer patterns discovered by Tonto’s Expanding Headband 2 years earlier.  The Dream   bound them in  interlocking patterns, mellotron chords and synthesizer textures.    Phaedra is transitional, retaining some of the avant-garde Ligeti-esque texturalism from Zeit on the mellotron drenched “Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare,” but the title track and Rubycon, an album length composition were definitive journeys into inner space.

Tangerine Dream was an exciting live band in the 70s and half of the 80s.  Listening to Logos, from 1982, you can hear why.  This was the Dream working with a precision and structure that earlier works didn’t have, but they were still creating in long-form with a fair amount of improvisation.  Johannes Schmoelling had been in the group for a while at this point and his influence is felt in gorgeous melodies and rhythms that have you ricocheting off your seat and between your headphone cups.  This was really the truly last live recording from the group.  Subsequent live albums would be more pre-programmed performances.

It’s been called their most experimental CD, but I think it’s their most thoughtful, controlled and uncontrived album.  Playing with a cello quartet, it’s a journey of interwoven tones phasing through each other from acoustic to electric to something entirely new.  Ambient before ambient, but owing much to Gyorgy Ligeti pieces like “Atmospheres,” synths, gliss guitar, organ and “noise generators” unfold in undulating, slow motion patterns across what was a double LP.  This 1972 recording is a drone zone manifesto, and a beautifully enveloping work free of melody, rhythm and just about any other conventional music signpost.

This is one of the last long-form Dream recordings.  Originally a two sided work, Tangram is a  multi-movement opus sometimes sabotaged by episodic writing, but still with some haunting themes amidst the pounding sequencers and more melodic invention than most prior Dream albums.

Part of the classic quartet of albums, this was their most commercial release to date and the first album with real melodies.

The other album in the classic quartet.  Ricochet was their first live album, although it was all new materiel and sounds like a studio recording.  Another two-sided excursion that moves from the quietest solo piano spot to thundering sequencers from the heavens.

Tangerine Dream Quantum Gate cover8-Quantum Gate
Quantum Gate is the first, full album from the post Edgar Froese edition of Tangerine Dream. This band, with Synth players Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and violinist Hoshiko Yamane was in the last band with Edgar, and they have carried on Froese’s works but definitely added some new twists that I find refreshing. This is definitely no a “ghost” band, and this album sends me into orbit as much as any record on this list.

9-Force Majeure
Something of an anomaly in that it features a drummer, Klaus Krüger, and gives the Dream a more fluid and aggressive sound, especially in the screaming side long title track. This is a more aggressive edition of the band

10-Optical Race
I know that consensus opinion has it that the Private Music years sucked, and they did, except for Optical Race the first album they made for the label, owned by former Tangerine Dreamer, Peter Bauman.  With just Froese and Paul Haslinger, they create dense, rhythmically charged excursions that stand up to some of their best works and hold up better than albums like Le Parc.

Edgar Froese -Epsilon in Malaysian Pale CoverBonus Album: Edgar Froese’s  Epsilon in Malaysian Pale.This is the third solo album from Edgar Froese and a Dream album by any other measure.  Two side long tracks of synthesizer and mellotron orchestrations. It’s one of his most pastoral works beginning with nature sounds then flowing into mellotron string pads and mellotron flute melodies weaving between synthesizer swirls and eddies. If someone doesn’t know what a mellotron sounds like, this is the album to play for them, then watch as their mind drifts into Froese’s enveloping soundscapes.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Updated 6/19/2020


  1. I used to listen to them .Have a lot of nice memories .But TD seams to me to be just another band who try to squice a few dollars from old realeses.Same old sound for 40 years(get a new synth boy!!)

  2. “White Eagle” is one that seems is often disregarded, but the songs “Mojave Plan” and “White Eagle” elevate this to a top ten list in my opinion. Tangerine Dream has accompanied me on vast road trips mainly in the wide open vistas of the West and South West. Their atmospheric ambient soundscapes open up vistas of the mind transcending time.

    • I totally agree after listening for over 30 years. But it will always have a more personal memory. I worked for a guy years ago who was a total twat. His mother however, was a lady who was very kind to me when I came to Canada as a 21 year old. Anyway, he loved to annoy her and it totally bothered me. She seamed trapped in a world of ignorant farmers. When she died, I found a card with an eagle soaring mid-air across an open gorge and sent it to both him and his father knowing that neither would really understand. Every time I listen to White Eagle, it reminds me of that most wonderful person.

  3. I think that OPTICAL RACE, ZEIT, GOBLINS’ CLUB and LOGOS could not be in the top 10 of Tangerine Dream. Instead, I would add to ALPHA CENTAURI, ENCORE, PERGAMON and ATEM.
    Very good comment by adding EPSILON IN MALAYSIAN PALE.

  4. I love “Cyclone” and it is always with me on any road trip I take. Especially through the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 🙂

  5. Please tell me why Exit and Underwater Sunlight are not on this list? Both albums transcend thought into pure clarity of mind. I’ve never heard anything like them before.

    • Tangerine Dream has over a hundred albums. Something had to get left out on a list of ten. Underwater Sunlight sounds dated to me now. Exit could very well have been on the list, as could many others. Keep Tangerine Dreaming!

    • Let’s make The top 10 list! Mine is:
      1. Ricochet
      2. Rubycon
      3. Stratosfear
      4. Phaedra
      5. Pergamon
      6. Cyclone
      7. Sorcerer
      8. Encore
      9. Force Majeure
      10. Alpha Centauri
      10+. Atem
      10++. Green Desert

      There is no more places!
      I think that the 70s is the richest and complex period of the Tangerine Dream’s music.

    • “Exit” is a interesting dark piece but in there TD begins to lose complexity in its musical textures. “Underwater sunlight” is too optimistic, much close to new age, it’s a music without tensions neither conflict, pretty shining… I prefer the density fo 1970’s works. I think the last pure TD discs are Tangram – Pergamon – Thief.

  6. Nice to see Stratosfear on the list. I realize it’s not the classic sound and maybe not a top ten contender but I actually have a soft spot for Exit as well.

  7. In my opinion the 70’s Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet, Stratosfear and Encore and the 80’s Thief, Exit, White Eagle, Logos and Poland are the ultimate TD recordings.

  8. Hi,
    A bit late to this post, but I have a question.
    I really like the soundtrack they did for The Keep (really hope they release this on vinyl one day). Movie was average, but the soundtrack was great.
    I was just wondering, if any, which of their albums have similar melodies or rhythms as found on that soundtrack?

  9. I was hugely into Stratosfear, the only dreaming album I listened to for years…but I very much like this new Tangerine Dream live, Øya Festival 2018 & PressureDrop.tv. It rocks, the crowd are fired up by it and it looks good too. Shame they didn’t make more use of the violin, that extra textural dimension would have added even more to it. Bu thanks Dreamers, I’m still very much with you.

  10. The Grand Theft Auto in-car radio station (2014) was easily one of the top 10 items TD has done. Bringing them to my kid’s generation who are only teenagers now but loving their influence on modern EDM music.

    To be putting out music in 1970…..and still remain relevant in mid 2010’s….what a crowning achievement, for any band!

    We are talking almost 50 years of music! Go TD.

    Love all the comments discussing favorite albums…that is what this is for!

  11. very close to my list for TD. Post 1979 was difficult to nail dow. Prolific but not necessarily a bulls-eye until the jems you highlight surfaced.

  12. John. I have tracked down about 50 Tangerine Dream albums to have a long listening sessions over the coarse of a few weeks. I have heard that their late 80’s/early 90’s output is somewhat of a trainwreck. But after hearing The Miracle Mile Soundtrack, Goblin’s Club and Underwater Sunlight I, myself think it is of very good quality. I even like the album after Underwater Sunlight called Tyger. I “dream” of having Tangerine Dream’s full discography on a huge cd rack in front of my living room wall to pick out at album when called for at my leisure. I first started listening to Echoes late 1999 and that year through 2000 was a truly magical time for music for me. Everything you were playing at that time really changed my perception of music and changed my tastes in music. I first heard Tangerine Dream when you played “The Orange Breath” off the album Seven Years in Tibet. It changed me and moved me greatly. Not considered there best work by any means. It remains one of my favorite albums just because it was my first exposure to them. I may not end up liking every one of their albums like some of the stuff from the Private Years. But still would like to work on having that whole cd discography and see if maybe they will grow on me, if need be. Your station is no longer available in my area and has been that way for many years. But if you have the chance to find a way to broadcast in central Illinois again. I would love to listen to your program again. In the meantime I think I will subscribe soon to your online program and see what I have been missing out on all these years. You have already given me so many great music memories. Here is to many, many more.

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