Electronic Meditation, Tangerine Dream's debut album, features the lineup of Edgar Froese, Conrad Schnitzler, and Klaus Schulze (his only album with Tangerine Dream). The album is not without its flaws, but it's strong in many ways and shows abundant promise. Wildly experimental timbres, passages, and textures dominate this sound world. Bringing a rock & roll effort to a decidedly avant-garde sound, the album manages to be very accessible and hard to dislike. Of those who were working at the same time, Electronic Meditation is most similar to the music of Pink Floyd and Amon Düül.
Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys make up Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, who were responsible for some of the catchiest and brightest synth pop that the '80s had to offer. O.M.D.'s material was a step above other keyboard pop music of the time, thanks to the combination of intelligently crafted hooks and colorful rhythms that bounced and jittered with pristine charm. Their squeaky-clean brilliancy initiated by both their synthesizers and subdued yet attractive vocal styles gave them a more mature sound over bands like Duran Duran and A Flock of Seagulls, who were attracting a younger audience. The Best of O.M.D. is an excellent compilation of their polished music, starting out with less provocative material like the basic electronic wash of "Electricity" and the bare but ebullient fervor of "Enola Gay." As this set moves along, so does the craftiness of their work, which is evident on tighter sounding songs like "Tesla Girls" and "Locomotion," where the intricacy of their formula begins to take a more resounding shape. O.M.D.'s best work came from 1985's Crush album, which harbored the midnight airiness found in "So in Love" as well as the adolescent innocence that streamed its way through "Secret," which are two of the best tracks on this set.
Live Miles consists of two parts, which were both recorded live. "Livemiles I" was recorded during the American tour of 1986, while "Livemiles II" was captured at a concert to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Berlin. As usual with TD, the audience had no clue of what they were going to experience while attending one of those concerts. During that era it was rather common for TD to improvise much of the music on the spot. So when you listen to a live record of TD you mostly hear new music that isn't available as a studio version. The extended pieces displayed on Live Miles cover many musical moods and textures throughout the playing time of almost half an hour: from slow and haunting, through up-tempo and uplifting; from driving and percussive, to grand and majestic. It's all present on both tracks!
Optical Race is one of Tangerine Dream's most accessible releases. The melodies and hooks are as strong as on any Dream production, and are complemented by the electronic washes of sound. Pared down to the duo of founder and visionary Edward Froese and fellow synth wizard Paul Haslinger, the music is complete yet questioning, the hallmark of all the best Tangerine Dream recordings. Stylistically it straddles the ground between the preceding Underwater Sunlight and the earlier Tangram. Optical Race also marked a reunion of sorts with former Dreamer Peter Baumann, then head of the Private Music label, which for a time became known for its edgy, electronic music by the likes of Yanni, Azuma, Eddie Jobson, and Tangerine Dream…