• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Berlin electronica pioneer dead at 70

AFP · 24 Jan 2015, 08:36

Published: 24 Jan 2015 08:36 GMT+01:00

Trained as a sculptor, the German multi-instrumentalist shocked the musical world in the early 1970s by using synthesizers to generate a trance-like but minimalist atmosphere that had only passing connections to the rock sound that then dominated the airwaves.

His son Jerome Froese, who later joined him in the band, said that his father died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism while in Vienna on Tuesday.

"Edgar once said, 'There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.' Edgar, this is a little comfort to us," a statement from the band said.

Froese was born in what is now the Russian city of Sovietsk on June 6, 1944 - the same day as the D-Day invasion - and has described growing up in a cosmopolitan post-World War II German cultural sphere in which he felt little attachment to national identity.

Froese studied art in West Berlin but his formative experience came in 1967 when he was invited to perform with an earlier band in Spain at the villa of the painter Salvador Dali, one of his heroes, and became convinced to take his music in a similarly surreal direction.

In an interview years later, Froese said that Dali taught him that "nearly everything is possible in art as long as you have a strong belief in what you're doing".

"His philosophy of being as original and authentic as possible had touched me very intensively at that time," Froese told the British online magazine The Quietus.

He linked up with fellow Berlin musicians to form Tangerine Dream - the exact inspiration for the band name was unclear - and initially pursued a musical direction in line with some of the more philosophical rock artists of the day including Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

'Godfather of trance'

Tangerine Dream enjoyed a break when it caught the attention of John Peel, the British radio presenter who for years was one of pop music's premier tastemakers, and the band was soon signed by the then-upstart Virgin label of Richard Branson.

Virgin Records gave Tangerine Dream free rein in the studio and the result was 1974's "Phaedra," which became one of electronica's seminal works.

The album pushed the limits of the era's sequencer technology to create a psychedelic atmosphere that some critics likened to space travel.

The album -- with an aptly abstract painting by Froese on the cover -- entered the Top 20 in Britain. "Phaedra" initially gained little traction in Germany, although eventually Tangerine Dream became a face of Berlin as a global electronica capital.

While Tangerine Dream's airy, free-flowing sound gave birth to the trance scene, Germany in the same era produced a separate school of electronica in Düsseldorf where Kraftwerk took a starkly different approach - a tight, robotic sound that experimented with how far the human dimension could be removed from music.

Story continues below…

Asked afterward in a German radio interview why he pursued the electronic sound, Froese said that he simply could not measure up to the rock and blues artists in the English-speaking world.  

"We had this typical German groove, which was terrible," he said. "They were better by far. They had all their heritage, and that mentality behind them."

Electronic equipment, however, offered a "completely new opportunity," he said.

Froese was the only consistent member of Tangerine Dream and remained prolific. The band released more than 100 albums and wrote music for numerous movies including Tom Cruise's breakthrough 1983 film "Risky Business".

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
File photo: DPA

When a man swimming naked in a Bavarian lake felt a strange pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted.

Study finds rival Rhineland beers 'actually taste the same'
Left: Altbier. Right: Kölsch. Or can you even tell? Photos: DPA.

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a long established rivalry, not least over who has the better home brew. So the results of a new study might be more than they can swallow.

Eastern Europe pushes Germany for joint EU army
Angela Merkel (l), Beata Szydlo and Victor Orban. Photo: DPA

Eastern EU countries on Friday pushed for the bloc to create a joint army as they met with Germany for talks on sketching Europe's post-Brexit future.

Merkel’s party mate wants to get rid of all Karl Marx streets
Karl Marx and one of the roadways in Berlin named for him. Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Nicor

Hundreds of streets are named after the founder of communism, but this conservative politician wants to give Marx the boot.

State elections
6 reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Photo: DPA

With state elections around the corner, The Local looks at the poor side of Germany's "poor but sexy" capital city.

Upstarts RB Leipzig plan to go right to top of Bundesliga
RB Leipzig players celebrate scoring against Dynamo Dresden. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig make their Bundesliga debut on Sunday, but the East German outfit, sponsored by energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull, are already far from popular in Germany's top-flight.

Poland criticizes Germany’s 'self-serving' foreign policy
Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: DPA

The Polish foreign minister has said that Germany all too often follows its own interests at the expense of its partners, as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to visit Warsaw.

Vast majority of Germans in favour of burqa ban: poll
Women wearing niqab veils in Saudi Arabia. Photo: DPA.

A survey found that the vast majority of respondents were in favour of Germany passing a ban on the full-body veil sometimes worn by Muslim women.

Czech police detain driver for harassing Merkel's motorcade
Angela Merkel. File photo: DPA

Czech police arrested a man on Thursday for attempting to drive into the motorcade of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Prague, they said.

Teacher convicted for holding kids back after class
Photo: DPA

A music teacher from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has been found guilty of "holding people against their will" after he made some naughty stay kids back after class.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,653
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd