Classic Synth Album Review: Legend Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream


Childhood musical experiences can make a powerful impact on us. I

saw Legend at some point in my early childhood and I can only recall

two things about it: the image of a unicorn and the music.


There was something otherworldly and charming about it and it stuck in my mind

as I grew up. The Legend soundtrack became my gateway into

hearing Tangerine Dream and the wonders of synth-based music.



Overall Soundtrack Impressions


Tangerine Dream created a score that is rich with atmosphere and

imagery. The way in which they mingled unique instruments with lush

and complex synth interactions drenched the soundtrack in

atmospheric expression.


This score succeeded in creating the sensation of traveling across

fantastic lands, moving through wondrous landscapes and

experiencing a grand adventure.


As is typical of their work, Tangerine Dream’s facility in combining

synthesized tones, timbres and textures shines through in the Legend

score. The full gamut of sonic signatures from coruscating light to all-

enveloping darkness and from dancing flutes to chanting voices all

come together to enfold the listener in a shifting sonic tapestry.


Another powerful aspect of the Legend soundtrack were the melodies

that were written for it by Tangerine Dream. The melodic content

mirrored the timeless, hallowed tale within the film and gave it a strong

flavour of magical lands and ancient times. I enjoyed how Tangerine

Dream skilfully evoked a wide variety of emotional states in their

melodic writing.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed


“Intro” starts out as vibrating, trembling pipe-like sounds flicker out and

the hollow pipes carry an ancient-sounding melody that’s broken into

sonic fragments.


The melody adds a sense of mystery over the bass depths that swell

up below to fill the open space with a rumble. The hollow panpipes

carry the melodic fragments into the lush surroundings.

There’s something that feels curious and quizzical in the pipe-like

synth and the melody gives hints of the journey on which we are about

to embark.


A folky-sounding string instrument carries the elegant melody that

speaks of a rustic, charming life to open “Cottage.” A harpsichord

ripples and flickers in oscillating lines over a trickling, bubbling sound

and higher synth swirls in ethereal, extending chords.

A deeper sonic well flows before the main melody sings out again.

Charming and delicate, the melody frolics in as a flute-like instrument

breathily carries it.


The deep well below grows as the harpsichord’s flutter adds more to

the texture o the music. Choir-like sounds move deeper underneath

and again we return to the timeless, clear melody and fade into quiet.


“Unicorn Theme” begins with shakuhachi echoing out mysteriously

into the openness around it as airy, magical synths call out in hollow

voices to add shadows and a haunted feeling to the music. The

mystical synth moves in drifting lines as elevated, tense sounds flow.

Rich bass swirls around lush, medium-low synth as a harpsichord

adds flashing light to the music.


The bass has a lush weight and synth instruments create an

orchestral feeling above it. The trumpeting synth that cuts above adds


more majestic power. This track evokes a sense of awe and wonder

as string-like synths bend into worried, tension-filled notes and a harsh

twist of sound contributes a sense of threat.


High synth trembles and feelings of fear break into open driving

percussion. Strings howl and scream as colossal brass adds intense

weight. Martial, ancient sounding percussion with a bending quality is

broken by quick string hits and a clap of thunder as the track ends.

Hovering, mystical strings are brushed by fragile chimes that glitter

delicately as “Fairies” comes into being. The gentler segment is

broken by shattering, rushing metallic sounds full of dark sensations.

There’s a harsh quality to them before again floating off into ethereal

sonic clouds.


A resonant, breathy woodwind slips into the music along with a

haunted wobble. A woodsy calliope huffs a playful, slightly devious

melody over the dancing, flickering chimes to imbue the song with a

lighthearted quality. There’s also something vaguely unsettling about

the tune. A shakuhachi breathes and shadows rise as the track ends.

“Blue Room” starts as a reverent synth choir is touched by open-

voiced, slowly moving percussion. A mist-shrouded, twisting synth

tumbles into the music and wobbles in ghostly motion over the slow,

hollow percussion.


A shadowy synth wash gruffly drifts before feather-light, fluting tones

cry out in a hurting melody brimming with tenuous feeling. Sinister,

steady percussion reverberates out into space.


There’s a spectral, lost feeling permeating this music as it unfolds. The

flute instrument feels bereft and mourns into the music as another

series of rising dark synth sounds hints at lurking danger.


Mystical sensations emanate from trailing synth tendrils to open “The

Dance. “ Breathy organ plays a steadily shifting musical pattern

doubled by a flute in an unsettling waltz as a sharp buzz of synth accents the end of each phrase. Lush bass provides support as the

waltz hovers between warmth and more uncertain feelings. The

contrast of the airy background adds a certain ambiguity as shadows

rise to engulf it at the end.


“Darkness” commences as doomy bass with a vocal quality adds

Stygian weight and a sitar jangles and flashes, full of strange portent.

The shadowed, massive low vocal sound doubles the ringing, twisting

sitar in a minor key line that oozes dangerous sensations.


The bass is colossal and foreboding while the sitar is darkly devious,

expressing something sneaking and insidious. A steady series of

heavy, string-like pulses joins a droning, rising sound. Broad, metallic

synths repeat in crushing blocks that clatter out over the bass void and

the shakuhachi flows in one airy burst and fades.


Conclusion


While the Legend soundtrack is controversial for some people, I

thoroughly enjoyed it. I freely admit that there’s an element of

nostalgia bound up in my love of it, but I also feel that it is musically

rich and draws me into the sonic world it seeks to explore.






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