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Tangerine Dream - Underwater Sunlight CD (album) cover

UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT

Tangerine Dream

 

Progressive Electronic

3.73 | 188 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
2 stars In a 2004 New York Times article, Douglas Mcgowan of Yoga Records defined "New Age" as "the musical sound of contentment and peace." The prior year, Frank Hoffmann of Sam Houston State University said "new age music evolved out of a shared consciousness" among musicians who believed "that music should be based on harmony and consonance, rather than dissonance...employ soothing instrumental sounds...and elevate space to a key role." Referring specifically to Tangerine Dream, Hoffmann also suggested that the group's "recent work has veered dangerously close to the new age genre." As a consumer of Tangerine Dream's early discography (Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit, and Atem), I must admit that I think that Hoffmann's being generous, especially if he connects new age music with (artistic) danger.

Anyway, Underwater Sunlight fits the definition of "new age music" pretty nicely. The biggest difference between "Dolphin Dance" and Ray Lynch's new-age classic "Celestial Soda Pop" is that "Dolphin Dance" is more new-agey: it's less dissonant and at one point (2:41, to be exact), the guitar even emulates a pan flute. And "Song of the Whale Part 1," which opens Underwater Sunlight, utterly epitomizes new age music, down to the soothing instrumental sounds, the spacey atmosphere, and the fluty lead synth.

Underwater Sunlight is about as straightforward and safe as can be, which puts it in a special category of new age music, a category which I predict will be the first in which computers will overtake human composers. I guess this means that Underwater Sunlight does indeed possess some redeeming value; it succeeds at evoking "the musical sound of contentment and peace."

One reason that I don't care much for this album is that new age music isn't my cup of tea, which I'll admit is pretty subjective. A possibly more neutral claim is that Underwater Sunlight is unchallenging compared to, say, Zeit, a work that errs on the side of convolutedness rather than caution. And for that reason, I'd suggest that prog-rock fans give Zeit, or any of Tangerine Dream's first four albums, before diving into Underwater Sunlight. Unless, of course, you dig new age music.

patrickq | 2/5 |

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