Apart from being the German for 'time', Zeit is also an album by Tangerine Dream
, released in 1972. It originally consisted of two vinyl discs containing four pieces of music in total, two per disc, one on each side - something which was the absolute hip of cool in 1974:
1.1 Birth Of Liquid Plejades*
1.2 Nebulous Dawn
2.1 Origin Of Supernatural Probabilities
* The Plejades are a star cluster, also known as Messier 45 or M45 or, most commonly, the Pleiades.
Each piece of music is 17-18 minutes long and, in common with the group's earlier output, formless. Only 'Plejades' has any progression - it starts off with a sick-sounding cello quartet playing dissonant notes and then moves onto organ and synthesiser - the other songs start as they finish, with electronic drones, held notes, casual guitar strums and lots of electric organ. There are no tunes, no percussion, no time signatures and no rhythm other than that of the stylus gliding over vinyl.
The music is similar to Brian Eno's ambient experiments of a few years later, but much less airy; or Godspeed You Black Emperor!, but entirely electronic. Zeit is murky and oppressive and, as background music, it creates an air of unease and despair; it is the first 'illbient' record. It was also the album the group's career had thus far been building up to - after a disappointing follow-up, 'Atem', their next album, 'Phaedra', was a bouncier change of direction.
The cast list is interesting. Apart from regular members Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Peter Baumann, the guest musicians included Florian Fricke of Popol Vuh, whilst the album was engineered by Dieter Dierks, who made his name producing The Scorpions, a very different krautrock band.
The album has been re-released on CD a number of times, although to modern ears it is very hissy, as it was multi-tracked and bounced down rather a lot (and furthermore it is supposed to be played quietly). The cover is a striking image of a star being eclipsed and is the perfect compliment to the image; Zeit is perhaps the last great triumph of space rock.
Zeit did not chart anywhere.