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Tangerine Dream Behaves Strangely

Strange Behaviors (1981) is one of those horror thrillers whose one claim to fame is that it was the first screenplay for director Bill Condon. He co-wrote it with director Michael Laughlin (Strange Invaders). The title refers to the scientist who is using teens to experiment on to see if he can turn them into murderers. Tangerine Dream (Wavelength; Dune), the German electronica band, was still fresh off their work on Sorcerer (1977) building on their use of electronics and ambient backdrops.

For fans of electronic horror scores, Strange Behaviors features some rather interesting electronic textures (“Horror in the Bathroom” has some of the more fascinating moments) with unique effects. There are some thematic threads that also are used to add some tonal focus in the midst of its experimental musique concrete and avantgarde techniques. There are some intriguing looping ideas that are employed as well here. It often all results in a dense cluster of sounds that merge into a dense variety of sounds that then morph from there. “Experiments in Tension” is perhaps an aptly-named track that summarizes the approach the group took to the score. There is a rather forgettable little “Romance Theme” which is dialed out at the end. The center of the score though is where the more intense moments occur. “Pete Goes In For the Kill” is also rather fascinating with its use of drum machine effects and non-tonal percussive ideas which recur in the following track, “Tension in the Laboratory”.

Strange Behaviors is not going to be for everyone and even for fans more familiar with the thematic Tangerine Dream approaches (popping up a bit in the final “Wedding Theme” track) it will be a rough listen. However, it is full of quite interesting uses of contemporary electronic composition ideas coupled with recurring motives and even some thematic continuity that will surprise some. The 30+-minute score is available in a limited edition or as a digital download. Some tracks are quickly faded out which is a bit unusual. One can hear clips at the BuySoundtrax website.


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