Edgar Froese - Macula Transfer. 1976 Germany

It wasn't long after I discovered Tangerine Dream in the early 1980s, that I found myself immersed in the Froese discography. And I promptly picked up every album from Aqua to Pinnacles. None were as profound to my young ears as Macula Transfer.

For me, Tangerine Dream's Phaedra and Rubycon were life changers - albums that altered the way I viewed, and ultimately listened to, music. To this day Rubycon is a Top 5 album, and probably will always remain that way. So it has always seemed strange to me that Aqua and Epsilon in Malaysian Pale never resonated in a similar manner. Froese's solo albums typically represented the same style of the corresponding Tangerine Dream album of the same year. And in that way, both Aqua and Epsilon in Malaysian Pale are further elaborations on ideas set forth prior. And since they are indeed solo albums, they do indeed sound like stripped down versions of the more fleshed out Tangerine Dream trio. I never embraced them in the same way. So last week, as I picked up a new Green Brain LP copy of Aqua, I was determined to give it one more shot. And still no emotional movement. Just so I'm clear - I think these albums are excellent. They are absolutely essential to a serious electronic music collection, and they both come wholeheartedly recommended from me. But they aren't special in the same way that Phaedra and Rubycon are. To me, that is.

So with all that out in the open, let me state now that Macula Transfer is indeed that special album. It was always the "odd album out" in the Froese catalog. It's the only album by Froese, and Tangerine Dream for that matter, that was released on Brain Metronome exclusively. No represses on Virgin. And because of the latter omission, finding Macula Transfer on CD has become quite the challenge. But before we go to that topic, let's discuss the music. Because it too is quite unique. Macula Transfer is unlike any Froese album... or Tangerine Dream album. It is not Froese's solo response to Stratosfear. Or to anything else. Even today, as countless artists try to recreate the "classic trio" era of Tangerine Dream, no one has really attempted a try at what Froese did here. Basically Froese mixed his obsession of the mellotron with an instrument that he had basically packed away for several years -- the electric guitar. And other than maybe Electronic Meditation, there is no other album from Froese that features as much psychedelic noodling as Macula Transfer. His mixing of choral mellotron with atonal fuzz soloing remains a highlight of his entire canon, and is downright chilling.

Personal collection
LP: 1976 Brain
CD: 1998 Manikin

There are other CDs, but they are all remixed versions that are not desirable. The Manikin CD is the only one from the original masters tape. Unfortunately it's very difficult to find now, and has become quite expensive.

Now a word about Edgar Froese and reissues. The dude is downright goofy about his past work. Clearly he suffers from OCD, as he cannot leave well enough alone. So rather than release straight reissues of past material, he finds it necessary to either re-record, or remix all of his previous work. So there's a Macula Transfer 2005 for the 5 people who are interested. As my cohort Mike says on these very pages: "Edgar's got a serious penchant for adding graffiti to his old art that's extremely frustrating to his fans and to date I haven't seen a single positive review of the redos of albums like Epsilon and Aqua, which apparently have been techno-fied and modernized and well, just about everything a classic fan doesn't want." Unfortunately if you want the original recording, you'll need the Manikin CD - or the multitude of Brain LP releases.

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