These are interesting days for the Tangerine Dream dominion: Edgar Froese and his son, Jerome, soldier on under the mantle founded by the elder Froese in the late 1960s. To their credit are several studio and live albums; four volumes of tranced-up versions of older Dreamtunes; one more soundtrack — a road Edgar said he'd never retread — in Mota Atma; and the commencment of a rather ambitious project, a three-part, three album interpretation of Dante's Inferno, opera style (two down, one to go). Perhaps inspired by the efforts of the fans, a new imprint has been erected to usher forth a series of "official bootlegs" that will capture key concert dates from yesteryear. One of the inaugural offerings is Live In Sydney, Australia – 22nd February 1982, which recalls one of their famous rare appearances in Oz (another well-known stop from the same arc is the Melbourne gig, which has circulated for years). Limited to 10,000 copies and produced as a full-color, mini-LP gatefold, and little else, this release doesn't look particularly impressive — how it sounds is left up to the buyer.
TD's then-lineup consisted of Froese, longtime member Christoph Franke, and in the revolving third seat was Johannes Schmoelling, who was almost halfway through his stint (he would leave after 1985's Le Parc). Schmoelling had joined in late 1979 at Edgar's behest, and immediately introduced a new composing & performing dynamic with his conservatory training and sizzling lead lines. The Australian concerts in early '82 were somewhat different than those of the '81 European tour; having released White Eagle, TD reproduced the entire album live, along with some then-current staples, but no vintage (!) classics. The purely improvisational live era (1974-1977) was gone, but 25% of the set was new, non-album material — all of which is here. On to the show, itself: as per White Eagle, the somber title track, the sequence-driven "Convention Of The 24," and the thematic rocker "Midnight In Tula" (as an encore) are all present, virtually identical to the studio versions. "Ayers Majestic" is an industrial-flavored interlude of shrill synth noises and jackhammer blast beats, a theme revisited during the fourth side of Poland: The Warsaw Concert — I prefer the looser, noisier version, here. "Bondy Parade" is a thirteen minute mini-epic with an infectious, galloping rhythm and a tasteful, spaced-out improvised guitar lead by Edgar.
This fiery live version of "Mojave Plan" is generally considered to be the best rendition, a few degrees hotter (and five minutes longer, for roughly twenty-five) than the album track. Unfortunately, this is where something goes wrong, which could've — and should've — been corrected before this ever went to the mass press stage. As with all TD shows, the main bodies of music flow for extended periods of time (as suites) with interstitial bridges separating the initial selections. Instead of the smooth segue that's expected, a glaring several seconds of rude silence is inputted at the index point between "Mojave Plan" and the next track, effectively nullifying the cerebral vibe that was cemented in over the course of fifty minutes. Simply unforgivable, this glitch in the source recording that could've so easily been smoothed over with software tools.
A fantastic piece that never surfaced on a studio album, "Thermal Inversion" is one of TD's best "closet" tracks, a jewel most cherished by the legions of Dreamers, with its plodding cadence and huge synthbass loop grounding a pentatonic chord progression. Simple, yes, but very, very effective. Remember, this is before synthesists at large had begun going ga ga over technological advancements and started layering stacks of elegant noise to the height of Babel's Tower. This time, the segue is uninterrupted, taking us into an excerpt from the title suite of Force Majeure, which back then concluded with an alternate, more potent take of "Beach Scene" (this remains untitled, but fans affectionately call it "Son of Beach Scene"). The upbeat melodic anthem that is "Choronzon," the best tune from Exit, closes the main set. In fact, tracks like "Choronzon" and "Midnight In Tula" foreboded the e-rock that UK synthesist Mark Shreeve would perfect on his classic mid-80s releases, Legion and Crash Head.
The music is fantastic, but what about the sonic quality of this "official boot"? Sorry to break it to you, but it's a bit lacking — I've heard many audience recordings that sound better. The sound is bright and loud, but could have been cleaned up significantly ("remastered"), and a few glitches could have been fixed up. As this concert has already been made available between traders — gratis, I might add — whether or not it's worth paying for is debatable. Two discs long and priced at roughly fifteen American dollars, I feel it's a fair shake.
Final rating: Music: a solid 5; Sound: ±2.5.
01 Convention Of The 24
02 White Eagle
03 Ayers Majestic
04 Logos (part one)
05 Bondy Parade
01 Mojave Plan
02 Thermal Inversion
03 Force Majeure
05 Midnight In Tula
Total time: 98:50