“György Ligeti on tranquilizers” – That’s the catchphrase I’m returning to when I think about or listen to Tangerine Dream’s “Zeit”. There is this celestial quality to the music, but the heavens above are just a cosmos full of black holes. Reaching a black hole’s event horizon time (“Zeit”) stands still and no light escapes from its massive gravitation.
“Zeit” is the sonic equivalent to the dark powers lurking within an already pitch-black and cold universe. Staring into the dark (i.e. listening to the record) one might get a bit bored. But listen closer! Immerse yourself into this ambient space trip and you’ll discover gorgeous vastness! Over the course of nearly 80 minutes there’s a lot of pulsing Nothingness to experience.
Decades later it is still astonishing how much Tangerine Dream made out of such (allegedly) little. This well-crafted bleakness, it’s mesmerizing. Being ahead of its time in 1972 it can easily persist next to any dark ambient artist nowadays – in fact “Zeit” can be seen as a genre defining record for the latter.
I imagine the recording process for that kind of somewhat static music being difficult and exhausting: Sitting in a studio in front of synthesizers, together with Florian Fricke and a gang of cello-players – and there’s one major rule: don’t get frantic with the Instruments/machines, take your time (“Zeit“) and proceed with caution! – And they succeeded masterfully!
Out of all Tangerine Dream records “Zeit” is my favourite one because of its opaque, monolithic quality. It’s a four-sided graceful but callous motherfucker. If you are afraid to encounter that beast – dance to “Phaedra”. “Zeit” doesn’t even need an audience. “Zeit” is and will be there – always.