Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Rarely has the impact of modern technology on music been more strikingly illustrated than by what took place Monday night before a full house at Lisner Auditorium. Perhaps more than any pop concert in recent years, the Washington debut of the three young German musicians who go by the name Tangerine Dream signalled that, like it or not, the age of synthetic music is upon us.
For the most part, Tangerine Dream's two-hour-plus performance made for an entertaining if occasionally intimidating experience. Seated amid some 20-odd synthesizers, mellotrons, echo chambers and rhythm computers, Edgar Froese, Christoph Franke and Peter Baumann generated an incredible array of artificial sound, this to the visual accompaniment of a $250,000 laser unit called the "Laserium."
Yet even with all these symbols of the space age surrounding them, Tangerine Dream offers some familiar points of reference. The drone bass and percussion patterns generated by Baumann's several synthesizers kept a steady beat going on most of the extended numbers, and Froese occasionally played electric guitar or acoustic grand piano. It was on the latter instrument that he quoted from Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" early in a piece called "Invisible Limits."
Regardless of how one reacts to Tangerine Dream's music, the group is impressive on a technical level. Their use of mellotrons to duplicate the sound of real strings and brass is unexcelled, but it is their intelligent and varied use of synthesizers that is perhaps more revelatory. At last there is a pop group that doesn't think of the synthesizer as just a souped-up version of the organ.