Edgar Froese died on January 20, 2015. That was the day before my birthday, so I didn’t find out until the following week.
Edgar Froese was a founding member of the German electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream. Between 1967 and 2015, he was the only constant member. In that time, the band released over 100 albums, of which I’ve only heard about nine. Though I’ve quite enjoyed each, of those nine, only one has ever truly stood out for me: 1974’s Phaedra.
Phaedra is a masterpiece. I cannot begin to describe the meanings I’ve come to attach to its unearthly sounds and its slow, sad, yawning melodies. There was a six month period about 10 years ago when I would put this album on repeat at a barely audible volume just before I went to sleep. It’s therefore safe to say that the music of Phaedra may very well have soundtracked my dreams.
To wake up to its alien soundscapes, bleary eyed and heady at four in the morning, is an indescribable experience. Phaedra sounds particularly incredible when you’re cold and lonely in the dark.
So farewell, Edgar Froese. He leaves behind an immense, timeless, and peerless body of work, but for me it’s all about Phaedra, and this track in particular:
Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares. One of the most devastating pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
If that were the sum of his work, he could still be viewed as one of the finest, most influential musicians of the past century. That this song is but the visible tip of an unfathomable, ever-shifting iceberg is really quite incredible.
A live version from 2005: