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Tangerine Dream - Underwater Sunlight CD (album) cover


Tangerine Dream


Progressive Electronic

3.82 | 167 ratings

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4 stars 1986's UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT is one of the stronger and more satisfying of Tangerine Dream's 80s efforts. At this juncture of the electronic trio's career, founder Edgar Froese and long-term member Christoph Franke had been joined by newcomer Paul Haslinger, who replaced the departing Johannes Schmoelling. The new lineup works well here, with Haslinger contributing not just the requisite synthesizers, but also some very feeling grand piano, as well as electric guitar to compliment that of main axesmith Froese. As on the terrific FORCE MAJEURE, Froese's trademark lead work looms large and majestic on much of this recording, imparting an emotional edge that is somewhat lacking on the majority of TD's output from the period.

The opening two-part suite, "Song of the Whale," is a standout. "Part One: From Dawn..." starts in a restrained fashion, then steadily builds to a crescendo, and features plenty of Froese's aforementioned lead. "Part Two: To Dusk..." admirably showcases Haslinger's talents on the grand, and is genuinely lovely -- the 80s Tangerine Dream are not content to simply "trip the listener out" -- they also create considerable beauty, with the power to make this fervent fan misty-eyed. Lead guitar is also notably present on this superb track, which, as its subtitle suggests, is evocative of a magnificent seaside sunset.

"Dolphin Dance," "Ride on the Ray" and "Scuba Scuba" are more straightforward, up-tempo pieces, which are much in the vein of TD's more accessible 80s numbers, but with the added bonus of more fine lead guitar on the first two. There is nothing especially challenging or earthshaking about these tracks -- just good, rhythmic electronic music that moves at nice pace, and which would make fine accompaniment for a marine nature film -- real, or imagined.

The album closer, "Underwater Twilight," winds down our aquatic foray in a stately manner, as we leave the gently swaying seaweeds and dozing dolphins to their watery repose. A most pleasant time was had by all during our sojourn in old Neptune's realm.

Thus, fans of the 80s incarnation of TD (which was earmarked by a focus more on structure and beauty, and less on the spacey and often scary sounds of their classic 70s albums) will want to check out UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT. The power and majesty of "Song of the Whale," with its soaring lead and soothing piano, is in itself worth the trip, while the remainder should not disappoint those fans who continued to enjoy the music of Tangerine Dream through the 80s. A fine album.

Peter | 4/5 |


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