On January 3rd 1999 NASA's Mars Polar Lander was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force station for its Mission to Mars. MPL is scheduled to enter the martian atmosphere by December 3rd 1999. TD's score used to be a "en route" soundtrack for this very extraordinary mission.
- Comet's figure head
- Rim of Schiapelli
- Pilots of the ether belt
- Deep space cruiser
- Spiral star date
- Mars mission
- Tharsis manouver
- Dies Martis
Distinguishing features of Mars Polaris
- First episode of the "Event Soundtrack" series
- Your personal "en route" music for this very extraordinary mission
- Unusual sounds and layers mixed with typical TD atmos.
1999. Press information
Mars Polaris has been running on my CD player continously since I got home from Osnabrueck. I love it! Here's a short review.
1. Comet's Figure Head (10:02)
Strange synth sounds, slow power drums and booming synthbass leads into the track. A classic sequecer fires up and a nice warm analogue synthpads create a celestial background for the nice little intro melody. Analogue brass sounds, also add to the atmosphere. Wonderful intro.
The rythm kicks in and more strange new synth sounds are added to the track. Wondeful sliding howls or hoo's. Again the exciting melody. A short break and a new melody line with a slow kicking rythm takes over. The track just goes on and on and you just don't want it to stop. Unfortunately it does after 10 minutes. Superb intro track to Mars Polaris.
2. Rim Of Schiaparelli (6:15)
Again strange experimental synth sounds start the track creating a mysterious ambience on the track. Slightly haunting lead in. What follows is a bit similar to WAB in style, just a little more coherent IMO. This track features classic TD sounds ranging from the harpsichord to pads. New and exciting and old and familiar at the same time. I like it.
3. Pilots Of The Ether Belt (10:16)
What a title !! :-)
Slow start. Koto-like sequence (may be drums though). Ambient synth sounds lead into a more familiar type of track. WAB + ToB style. Plenty of experimental synth sounds. All in the ambient range. I find this track a little weaker than the first two. The lead piano parts are a little dull. What saves the track is the nice sequence + the experimental synth sounds.
4. Deep Space Cruiser (4:42)Slow ambient track. Lead voice sounds like a cross between a wailing guitar and a whale singing. Doesn't really sound like TD IMO. I think it sounds more like Mike Oldfield in texture. This could have been from Songs From Distant Earth. The track is very pleasant.
5. Outland (9:15)
Wonderful lead in. Again new synth sounds which also feels familiar. A great rythm kicks in and there's plenty of exciting sequencer + warm ambient synthpads. This track has a great melody. Great breaks and shifts in style. Again there are new experiments. This is one of the best and most varied tracks on the CD.
6. Spiral Star Date (6:13)Again a slow rythm track with plenty of ambient synth sounds. Very nice atmosphere and a lead which for some reason reminds me of some old Sicilian gangstermovie theme. Squeeks and howls from synths and guitars and warm analogstyle synthpads. Some of the track also resembles Rockoon wagely. A very nice track IMO.
7. Mars Mission Counter (5:45)
Classical style intro that resembles the orchestral tracks on Hollywood Years. The following rythm and sequecer track reminds me of something, but I can't remember what. Probably DreamMix 1 or 2, though this track never becomes technostyle. The track is a little repetitive.
8. Astrophobia (5:58)
Wierd low sample frequency sounds start the track. Eerie atmosphere. Very spacey. Booming space bass and exciting sequencer riffs + atmospheric synthpads and piano lead into the most varied track on the CD. The rythms range synthrock to jungletechno. This track constantly changes but carries it's main theme through. Strange track. Seems a bit jumpled up. Need to hear this some more.
9. Tharsis Maneuver (4:31)
Good ol' harpsichord. Brass sounds. Rybucon/Pheadra style sequence. This track could fit on any TD album from 1988-1992, I guess.The track is quite good, but not very melodic and also seems a little repetitive.
10. Dies Martis (4:00)
Eerie beginning which springs into a piano+strings+clarinet and quiet e.percussion track. This is obviously and ending track to a fine album. It's quiet and meditative. Gives the listener time to chill-out after hearing an exciting new TD album.
Overall impression of Mars Polaris. A damn fine album from TD 1999. Plenty of new experimental sounds. Warm analogue feeling to many synthsounds and interesting rythm arrangements. I recommend it.
Now if only TDI would release the entire concert. It deserves to be released !!
1999. Flemming Larsen
Tangerine Dream's ''Mars Polaris'' is a surprisingly good album for me, after all these boring new-age-like efforts from mid-nineties. I think that the collaboration with NASA is a very good idea, I've always liked space-themed albums. But, man, musically this albums is VERY interesting and tricky! Sequences, reminding of Phaedra period, cool rhythms, experimental sound - it got it all. This album is one of the Electronic Music masterpieces and has become one of my favorites. The pace changes really fast, it's all very intense and exciting. The atmosphere is great.
Nuff said! You cannot describe this music using words - just buy it and listen to it if.
2002. Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music
I may have said it before, but it seems that a new Tangerine Dream release is out every month. Aside from the reissues of past releases. But, when you create music for soundtracks as well as for yourself, you're bound to generate a lot of material.
Mars has almost always been a subject of mystery or speculation - one could name half a dozen authors from this decade alone, I'm sure. And, with our recent explorations, the Red Planet's profile has gone up dramatically.
The ten sonic explorations that Tangerine Dream explore on this disc are, in some ways, more of the same. In this case, I'm meaning a good thing. Edgar and Jerome Froese have become so good at this, so adept at their programming, that performance is no longer an issue. Obviously, though, in a recorded setting, if you miss fire a sequence, you can rewind and start over. It would be interesting to see, because I haven't, if their precision and synchronicity hold up in a live setting.
"Comet's Figure Head" begins things with the sonic representation of a comet coming closer and closer, the burnoff trailing behind it. It's an interesting effect as the music gradually builds.
"Astrophobia" is unlike any of the other tracks on this disk, as it sounds more like Future Sound of London or Spacetime Continuum. It is processed percussion with an almost techno feel, while keyboard phrases dance over it. This is an active and energizing track.
On "track name," there is a keyboard phrase that reminds me very much of ex-Tangerine Dreamer Christopher Franke's Babylon 5 soundtrack work - that deep, throaty tone he gets is the same here. Unconscious or a tip of the hat, I don't know. But, given Mars played a big part in that series...and this album is about Mars...the latter is likely.
And, could "Outland (The Colony)" be a reference to the Sean Connery vehicle nearly 20 years ago? (though I don't recall Mars playing a part in that movie).
This is a great package, from the photos in the booklet to the simple but elegant cover (with gold-leaf like letter not visible in the reproduction above). Obviously, the photos inside are of Mars, but also of spacecraft such as the Mars Polar Lander (one of 'em may, in fact, be an artist's rendering). Plus, the package includes Mars facts and Mars Polar Lander facts.
Plus, the Froeses have written a short piece on the Martian Seal - the Mon Olympus Seal, a feature on the planet's surface.
This is an excellent and lush album, though there are a few cold, overly processed moments. Recommended.
1999. Stephanie Sollow
I guess Mars Polaris should be some kind of "soundtrack" to a Mars programme by NASA. So the music is very cosmic and floating. The cover looks like the backcover to Zeit, but here stops the comparisons.
The ten minute long opening track, Comet's Figure Head, is ambient/chill out and comes with an earnest and sad air, that has the sophisticated touch we heard on TimeSquare - Dream Mixes II. Unfortunately, the track and the rest of the album, has a cold sound. It might be the point to get the feeling of space or walking on the red planet. - "...the average temperature on Mars is about -55ºC/-67ºF..." I get the point! Mars is cold - Edgar and Jerome makes cold music about Mars!
Rim of Schiaparelli is a tad faster and rhythm-oriented, but the synthetic software sounds, are just...well, too synthetic!
We head on to Pilots of the Ether Belt, which sounds like something from the forthcoming Dream Mixes Three - The Past Hundred Moons, so it's brilliant, off course. The rhythm track is well constructed, and I can't tell if this is real drums, or Jerome just is such a tight drummer? The track carries many great moments and variations. I get the space feeling. The arrangements of synths and sequencers are floating and weightless!
A hi-hat rhythm opens Deep Space Cruiser. If I knew anything about musical rhythm theory I could precisely tell, in what time it's played, but I almost can assure, it isn't the well known 4/4. Guitar-like and atmospheric synths creates an airy, but rocky mood. More drum beats are added, but apart from that, the track is short of further development. The clinical sound is not an unconditional success, and for now the track has been the least appealing on Mars Polaris.
Outland (The Colony) on the other hand is modern electronica. The Steinberg Cubase software sound is still very conspicuous, but it certainly doesn't kill the track. It's the highlight of the album. It's in-your-face, versatile and Jerome has nicely structured the rhythms. I rate it as their most groundbreaking in the nineties.
Spiral Star Date is yet another track struggling with the clinical production, and what a shame. It could have been better, if Tangerine Dream had used a neutral producer, with the courage to contradict Edgar and his sometimes sleep-inducting musical intentions.
Mars Mission Counter gives inexplicable déjà-vus, and finish off with some Georgian male choir. In it's own way, quite interesting and dramatic, without being extraordinary.
Astrophobia has the same class as Outland, Comet's Figure Head or Pilots of the Ether Belt. It has probably the most aggressive beat in TD context, ever. There is given place for more moderate pieces with the space left for melodies. Another gem!
Tharsis Maneuver is blessed with the best title, but it suffers from the same problems as Rim of Schiaparelli.
Dies Martis (TransMercury) ends a fine, but perhaps little long and clinical outlet with a calm track, I couldn't care less about.
However, I would like to point out that the cd always deserves a listen, because of the modern tracks and the spacy dramatics.
2006. Jacob Pertou / Denmark
Recorded as a tribute to the ill-fated Mars Polaris Lander, this 71-minute CD features a highly rhythmic and often energetic sonic portrait of this ambitious exploration mission and outer space in general.
Although the band is known primarily for its synthesizers, Tangerine Dream's instrumentation has always included powerful guitar and sinuous percussive tempos.
And although percussion remains a strong framework for their music, the band (now comprised of veteran Edgar Froese and his son Jerome) mark their real power with the electronics.
A splendid mixture of keyboard riffs and unworldly sounds, coalescing into sharp songs that invigorate the spirit and entrance the mind ... sometimes even stirring the feet with their rich rhythmic sense.
The melodies are vibrant with energy, driven by a vital sense of composition intended to awaken, not lull. A grandeur echoes within Tangerine Dream's music, melodies swell the soul until it explodes from the limits of one's fleshly vessel.
This album is an excellent example that invalidates most people's misconceptions regarding so-called "newage" music.
Although Tangerine Dream often work in pieces of epic length, the songs on this CD are restricted to shorter form, averaging six to ten minutes.
This results in a compression of the above-mentioned power, giving the tuneage a tighter flow that does not lose one's attention with any slow-build of cycles.
Instead, the pieces hit hard, grabbing listeners and catapulting them instantly into the adventure of outer space, drenching the void with a drama and tension that is as exhausting as it is inspiring.
Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity