Silver Pendulum

So, I was thinking about time shifts: from British Summer Time to Greenwich Meantime, or the paradoxes of space-time rifts in Science Fiction stories. And I wondered if I could find some music on that theme.

It’s not as easy as you might imagine but, eventually, the naïve search algorithm chanced upon a title that has the right connotations; Silver Pendulum brings to mind the steady tick-tock of a pendulum clock in days gone by. It’s a tune by Tangerine Dream that had bubbled to the top of my listening stack a few days ago.

You might have thought that the absence of any mention of Tangerine Dream in these pages to date is one of the great mysteries of the universe. But the explanation is really quite simple. There are two reasons: 1) although the band’s material generally strikes me as pleasantly listenable it has never really made me sit up and pay attention, and 2) they have such a huge body of work that exploring it properly is just too daunting a prospect.

Well, the time had come to at least start exploring the lucid dream named after the Beatles’ famous Lucy, the girl wearing diamonds who leads us through tangerine trees into a marmalade sky.

The standard research procedure here is to start at the beginning and work methodically forward in time. But the main page for Tangerine Dream on Wikipedia tells us that the band has released over 100 albums and lists 162 titles. That would take the research team way beyond their time allowance, perhaps even Beyond Covid. So we agreed to limit ourselves to those studio albums that reached the charts.

Phaedra‘s aimless dance failed to impress. Rubycon felt much the same and was soon crossed over. Stratosfear, TD’s seventh studio album, had rather more to recommend it, although it wouldn’t push the pulse rate anywhere near stratospheric heights. Those three albums confirmed the initial tentative classification as “random walks through shapeless electronic soundscapes”.

By then the hands on the clock were demanding that the Silver Pendulum be evaluated in the context of these preliminary investigations. And it stands up very well. Whereas the Phaedra tracks, especially, seem to meander haphazardly around, the pendulum moves with a purpose. It doesn’t go very far, of course, but it ticks along brightly with every tock of the second hand. Its cheeriness puts a smile on even the most crotchety of faces.

The Silver Pendulum melody reminds me of the Tim Hardin song, How Can We Hang On To A Dream?. Perhaps the answer is to meet Lucy among the tangerine trees and play the pendulum track on repeat.

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