Virgin VR 13-116
Released: August 1975
Those who thrilled to Phaedra, Tangerine Dream's first American-released opus, will be just as charmed by Rubycon. This new package of 23rd century lounge schmaltz features exactly the same heady blend of electronic whooshes, whirls, hums, bleeps, whines, groans, sweeps and whistles that its predecessor did. In fact, one only slightly more skeptical than this reviewer might go so far as to suggest that Rubycon is little more than Phaedra run through the tape machine backwards. Occasionally this total synthesizer assault makes for an interesting background buzz but Rubycon is so anti-melodic that it makes Autobahn sound like the Neil Diamond songbook. The album will retain your interest for a solid three minutes. It would have made a great 45.
- Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone, 9/11/75.
The squeaks, moans, coos, bellows, simperings, and assorted mechanical throat clearings it is possible to bring forth from the synthesizer prove it to be the Better Mousetrap of the age. That it catches few mice is politely overlooked -- one mustn't say boo to anything modern. Many of those horrors of mechanization poets and social thinkers have been warning us of have come true, especially in music, where over the last two decades artists and promoters have been emphasizing form at the expense of content. How else explain the 90 per cent of rock that is phony, incompetent, and plain noisy?
Content gets easier and easier to disguise as form gets more and more attention, a lesson that seems to have been well learned by Tangerine Dream, three young Teutonic bloods who operate various types of synthesizers. They have given a long, rambling piece called "Rubycon" a slick, quasi-classical overlay, plucking phrases, half-themes, and harmonic ideas from the works of various composers. From time to time the piece slides into a rhythmic riff that seems based on the sound a hydroelectric generator makes when it has just gotten oiled. The ideas are shabby, but the performance is efficient -- a cross between Goethe and Rommel, between the "Ode to Joy" and "Deutschland uber Alles."
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 11/75.
- Linda Kohanov, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Rubycon is a 35 minute masterpiece of sonic layers; it offers a thick blanket of sound that's as complex as any classical symphony, and rich enough to find new enjoyment with every listen. * * * * 1/2
- Bryan Lassner, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
You know those fancy spas, the ones that advertise how they'll bring you to your mellow place and, for a premium fee, lead you through calming meditations and salt scrubs and such? They don't want you to know about records like this. For a whole lot less money, Tangerine Dream will chill you out, loosen the grip of the grid, and help you transition to a quieter, more reflective state of mind.
The music Tangerine Dream made during the mid-1970s, its most creative period, has been described as "space ambience" and "stoner nirvana." It's all that and an EPCOT ride too, a tour through vast desolate lunar landscapes (or a hyperreal simulation). This two-part piece continues the basic ideas the German trio, formed by Edgar Froese in 1967, explored so skillfully on its previous album Phaedra, the oft-maligned ambient milestone that put the group in the Top 20 of the British Album charts for the first time. There are lush cascades of echo-chamber sound and slow-moving swirls of otherworldly strings created on the tape-based instrument known as the mellotron.
But Rubycon adds more rhythmic synthesizer blips, recurring patterns that pulsate beneath the surface. And its "Part Two" is much darker than anything on Phaedra: Propelled by solemn electronically generated male voices, it begins in the murky oceanic depths. As the voices trail off, the music seems to brighten, slowly ascending until, in the final moments, glimmers of daylight poke through. This voyaging vision of sound, ever-unfolding and not quite ever arriving, has been imitated endlessly since 1975. But somehow its admirers haven't quite captured the openness and faraway grandeur of Tangerine Dream.
- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.
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