‘There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address’ – Edgar Froese.
German electronic music pioneer Edgar Willmar Froese sadly passed away on 20 January 2015 in Vienna from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 70. Founder of krautrock band Tangerine Dream, Froese released an epic 100 albums with the band since their conception in 1967, and provided scores for over 60 films (Sorcerer, Risky Business, The Squid and The Whale) and computer games (Grand Theft Auto V).
Froese was like the godfather of the sequencer as he used to record sounds on tape recorders to compose music, and later on Tangerine Dream would go on to use the sequencer heavily in their music.They also used the Mellotron in the 70’s, and by the 80’s they requested Mellotronics to make a digital version.
In November 2014 Froese visited Melbourne as a guest speaker at the Face the Music Conference (A Conversation with Edgar Froese) and to perform a series of shows. I spent close to an hour listening to the most interesting musician I’ve ever heard talk in my life! I’d argue he was the coolest 70-year-old on the planet decked out in his futuristic Nike runners (the socks and shoes were integrated as one), and his cowboy hat.
Froese studied art in West Berlin in the 1960’s and was invited to perform with one of his bands (The Ones) for surrealism painter Salvador Dali. My jaw dropped when he told the audience that not only did he call Dali a friend, but he also hung out and discussed life and politics with pop-art icon Andy Warhol (who he thought was conservative!), and cubism artist Pablo Picasso. Just hanging out talking philosophy with three of the most influential artists of the 20th century!
He spent time talking about his love for the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach who he considered the greatest musician of all. He explained his theory that there will never be anyone like Bach again, as he was made from his time where classical music dominated.
He went further to explain that our taste is music is shaped by our experiences, and therefore there are certain frequencies that resonate with our ears. While the devil in me started plotting ways to improve the musical consciousness of human race by emitting the tones that resonate with me personally, I totally understood his theory!
Modern musicians are shaped by not only the music they choose to listen to, but the environment they grow up in, the modern-day noises they hear, everything. Unless you can time-travel, your concert going experiences are going to be made up of acts you can go and see perform live, the DVD concerts you can get your hands on, and that beeping sound of cars reversing that drives us all 0.05% nuts.
Froese talked about music and convergence of technology, and how at times he felt disturbed by the delay in which technology couldn’t keep up with his ideas. He talked of a time in the future where musicians will be able to shape and play whatever they want and not be hampered by the technology. For example, how many thoughts can you lose while typing an idea because of your own inept keyboard skills?
Then he had us spellbound again with his knowledge of science, scoffed at the pointlessness of the Hadron collider*, and told us he planned to stop performing music after 50 years and spend more time studying quantum physics! Almost 50 years in music, can you imagine the wealth of knowledge?
I come to the Tangerine Dream party late, I don’t know what happened but it never hit my radar. Were they neglected by all the Western music media that I have consumed since a young child? However, as soon as I realised musicians that I admire have been influenced by Tangerine Dream (The Future Sound of London, Orbital, DJ Shadow, Radiohead) I had to take a listen and my, weren’t they light years ahead of the game?
Not only did Froese’s conversation provide a pause for reflection on the cab home, but his wise words were spinning around in my head for days! Hands down Edgar Froese proved to be the most intelligent and intriguing musician I’ve been lucky to bear witness to.
RIP Edgar. Thanks for the frequencies.
* Do not ask me any questions about science, this is not in my repertoire.
Video: Tangerine Dream Perform Sorcerer Live in Melbourne, 20 November 2014