Booster VII is a bittersweet release for the Tangerine Dream faithful. The Booster series was designed to be both a way to indoctrinate the uninitiated and feed rarities to the devoted. Then Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream’s sole original member and something of a godfather in the world of synthesized krautrock, died on January 20, 2015 and the Booster series now comes to a close with its seventh volume. The Froese-less Tangerine Dream may solider on at this point and there may be a few more unheard recordings to unleash. So while the latch on the treasure chest is not locked for good, this feels like the end of an era nevertheless. Whether you choose to look at Booster VII as the beginning of the end or the end just before a new beginning, everyone can agree that it’s a generous package. Assembling a concise, definitive and comprehensive collection of Tangerine Dream’s output is close to impossible (not that no one has tried), but the odds-and-sods approach has proven to be a little more fun for fans to digest since there aren’t any concrete expectations tied to releases like the Booster series. Booster VII has 21 tracks, lasts close to two-and-a-half hours and is a great multi-purpose collection — it pleased the old fans, lures in new ones and is a lovely send-off to Froese himself, wherever his “cosmic address” may be now.
Booster VII features music culled from different eras of Tangerine Dream, so consistency is not a default trait here. Some of the group’s music has aged well. Some of it fell out of fashion but then found its way back into the trendy side of things during electronic music’s quiet resurgence. Some of it flew so far away from everyone’s radar that it never had a chance to sound dated in the first place. “Tamago Yaki 2015” may have a more current year in its title, but the rebounding synthesizers transport us back to the Phaedra days and this is indeed a positive thing. It comes with all the hallmarks of classic Tangerine Dream: an uncertain atmosphere, gradual arrangements, viscous motion and a sense of experimentation healthily held in check for the listener’s sake. The first disc closes out with another retooled tune from the past, “The Light Cone 2015”. It sounds at once bubblier and more modern than the version that appeared on one of Froese’s solo projects.
The Red Canyon remix of “A Matter of Time” is one of those rare jobs where the remixer doesn’t try to stamp their identity on the song itself. Sure, it sounds a tad different, but it still sounds like Tangerine Dream — nine-plus minutes and all. Speaking of long, Booster VII ends with a “Director’s Cut” of “Le Combat Des Épées”, stretching the track to almost 17 minutes. This is the dancier side of Tangerine Dream that Edgar Froese was just at home with as he was with the band’s ambient side, demonstrated in beautiful trip-hop fashion on “Chilly Moons”.
The title of the first track on disc two says it all: “Parallel Worlds”. Froese and his companions felt free to step across the spectrum of electronic music, from one decade to another, without ever worrying about how to sell the music or whether or not it would last. He just did it. And because he just kept plugging away, the world’s cup runneth over of Tangerine Dream leftovers. If there are any more hiding somewhere, let’s keep them coming because Booster VII is solid as a rock. When a title like “Heart Throb” doesn’t resonate as a corny joke, you know you’re in for something good.