17 December 2013 (released)
20 January 2014
The images that Tangerine Dream put into the head of the unwary are profound. They use sound and scale in the same way that Turner used light to make the most mundane subject alive and vibrant. You find that you want to search in the music in the same way that you are drawn into a picture, finding the detail and marvelling at the changes inspired by changes in the light.
‘Franz Kafka The Castle’ is the latest in a series of ‘Sonic Poems’ and in the words of Tangerine Dream themselves “There is a hidden secret behind this unfinished story of Franz Kafka. THE CASTLE is never meant to be a building as we would expect it. Kafka goes further, much further. The story of THE CASTLE follows a deeper study of mankind and society and is maybe one of the most challenging projects TD came up with.”
Listening to Tangerine Dream has always been about feelings and emotions – they tell their stories in terms of tone, amplitude and pace – and the tracks here all tell stories without words.
Take ‘Odd Welcome’: manic aural ‘footsteps’ leading into a techno rhythm with listing keyboards. Close your eyes and you can see the mad butler welcoming the strangers and taking them to his master. The little oddities in the music seem to dive in and out like courtiers getting closer to study the newcomers then backing off as they get closer to the monarch seated on the high dais.
The sense of impending threat is underlying all but the pace of the track takes away the fear that should be building up inside you.
This is electronic music, yes, but it is classical in the way that the music is designed to make you think and feel. Rock and Roll it ain’t.
‘The Untouchable Castle’ seems to put you in the place of studying all sides if the edifice and even looking closely at the brickwork and detail but without building a structure – as the title suggests, all artifice and imagery.
Each track can be listened to in isolation but if listened to as a whole piece the effect is much greater – much like the original unfinished novel. Kafka left the reader uncertain whether the structures in the village were real or artifice and played with hidden meanings from the title of the work – in German Das Schloss can mean the Castle but equally could mean The Lock and phonetically it can be taken to mean ‘an end’ – to the names of the villagers and the Council Chairman; nothing is as it seems.
Musically, Tangerine Dream also hide aural clues and stories in the body of the numbers but all the ambiguities are in the mind of the listener.
As ever with Tangerine Dream it is music that works on multiple levels but draws on the listener to truly bring it to life. The subject matter is arcane and difficult but the result is a great listen.