Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tangerine Dream Underwater Sunlight album cover
3.69 | 220 ratings | 23 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Song of the Whale - Part 1: From Dawn... (8:20)
2. Song of the Whale - Part 2: Dusk (10:53)
3. Dolphin Dance (5:02)
4. Ride On the Ray (5:32)
5. Scuba Scuba (4:24)
6. Underwater Twilight (5:52)

Total Time 40:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / synthesizer, guitar, producer
- Christoph Franke / synthesizer, electronic percussion
- Paul Haslinger / synthesizer, grand piano, guitar

- Christian Gstettner / computer programming

Releases information

Artwork: Monica Froese (photo)

LP Jive Electro ‎- 656.080 (1986, Netherlands)

CD Jive Electro ‎- 8.26377 (1986, Germany)
CD Essential ‎- ESM CD 366 (1996, UK) Remastere by Thomas Heimann-Trosien

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy TANGERINE DREAM Underwater Sunlight Music

TANGERINE DREAM Underwater Sunlight ratings distribution

(220 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TANGERINE DREAM Underwater Sunlight reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
4 stars An album that could easily be written off as 'New Age' with songs about whales and the like.Well fear not as Edgar Froese can play a mean guitar! Soundwise this is the most expansive Tangerine Dream recording utlising the studio to the fullest.'The Song Of The Whale' is one of my favourite instrumetal peices by ANY band.The melody,the textures the crescendoes, the beauty and grace of it.It's amazing how TD can capture the spirit and movement of The Whale so perfectly in a peice of music.Maybe the other peices are not quite of this very high standard but it's still emmensely enjoyable music.And as I said before listen to Edgear Froese playing a guitar and be impressed!
Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record announces the end of the Schmoelling-era (1980-1985): Johanness Schmoelling is replaced here by Paul Haslinger. The new musician definitely brings a new sound, very piano and floating New Age oriented. Underwater Sunlight is an excellent album, having a fresh New Age sound, absolutely not linear nor monotonous. The overall sound is absolutely crystal clean and rather echoed. Edgar Froese makes a brilliant return to form by playing excellent hard rock guitar solos and aggressive rythmic ones. The first side contains 4 short tracks, very accessible and addictive; there are some very good programmed drums. The second side contains 2 long tracks, VERY floating, fresh, having many pleasant percussive melodic sequencers.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great return to form marked also by the arrival of Paul Haslinger to replace Johannes Schmoelling. What is significant about Underwater Sunlight is the combination of Edgar Froese's guitar work with the synth playing. He is such an excellent guitarist that you only wish he provided more of the same! However there needs to be a balance and Underwater Sunlight provides just that with delicate yet masterfully arranged keyboard and synthesiser work. The two longest tracks ( The song of the whale part 1 and two) are excellent but it is the shorter tracks that get the excitement going especially ' Dolphin Dance', what a great riff Mr. Froese! and Force majeure like ' Ride of the Ray'. Whilst it is commonly acknowledged that Tangerine Dream peaked in the early 80's the honest truth is that their material has always been of high calibre. Maybe electronic music got diluted in the 80's, 90's and beyond but what TD never did was stop experimenting and evolving. Underwater Sunlight is, excuse the pun, a real pearl of an album. Listen also to the genius like percussion on Scuba Scuba. A definite win win situation and a solid four star rating.
Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars One of the best later releases from these electronic prog masters, this one caught me by surprise!

1. Song of the Whale (Part 1)- Wow, this is fantastic! Wonderful, majestic guitar and keyboards make the atmosphere on this song very relaxing and you can envision the aquatic scenery. This is easily the best track on here. The structure is genius and the commanding mood is propelled with ease by Froese's fantastic guitar. 10/10

2. Song of the Whale (Part 2)- A continuation of Part 1, except this time with a more touching route in the emotion department, focusing on grand piano rather than darker, more water-sounding keyboards. The composition flows well from the previous part, and the atmosphere is beautiful in a different way but just as effective. 10/10

3. Dolphin Dance- This song, like the previous two, sounds like its title name. It has a similar water keyboard feel as the first song, which is pretty neat, but it's much more concise and upbeat. A good, almost dance-able track that has wonderful instrumentation, similarly to Cinnamon Road off of Hyperborea. 8/10

4. Ride on the Ray- This is a good track, but it may be my least favorite on the album because the repetition can get tedious towards the end with the main melody. It is very effective in mood, however, and wonderfully played. 7/10

5. Scuba Scuba- One great aspect of this album is that the tracks all really are so impressive at establishing their respective water-like moods, and this track continues that theme. I really like the theme of this one; it is relaxing and always reminds me of someone scuba diving and searching for treasure underwater. Neat. 8/10

6. Underwater Twilight- A peaceful and very effective closer that is, oddly enough, my favorite of all the shorter tracks on this album. Usually this piece gets overlooked, but it works as a perfect ending to this underwater journey. The beginning builds with soothing keyboards and choir tones until developing into a driving underwater anthem that has a really cool mood to it. The piano addition at the end assists your floating while you enjoy the sightseeing. 9/10

This is a really great Tangerine Dream offering that often gets overlooked because it is not exactly like their earlier work. It does feature fantastic keyboard playing all around and the atmosphere are definitely the album's strongpoint-they all are unique compositions that help you picture respective underwater scenery along your journey through the album.

An absolutely wonderful addition to your music collection, particularly if you want to explore the sea while multitasking or relaxing.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In honor of my 300th review for this fabulous site, it has immediately dawned on me that I need and wish to dedicate this critique to my dearest friend 'febus' aka Antoine, who tragically left us just before Christmas past, in another shocking medical screw-up that led to his passing. We are lessened by his silence but resolved in knowing that his reviews and posts are still available for all to see and admire. In our numerous PMs and phone calls, one rather hysterical irony was that even though I owned 33 Tangerine Dream albums , the one he loved more than any other and by far, was "Underwater Sunlight", a title I had missing in my anthology! So I hunted this omitted disc with impassioned fervor and what a masterful effort it is! In listening to it the first time through, I was immediately choked by the emotions of it all, providing a ceremonial soundtrack to Antoine's legacy, well known and documented by those who were blessed to read him or know him. New keyboardist Paul Haslinger does a prima job here, weaving effortlessly with veterans Edgar Froese and Chris Franke. "Song of the Whale pt1: From Dawn" awakens with restrained beauty, a rather evocative aquatic interpretation of the sea, punctuated by occasional squalls of crested guitars, swelling cascades of synthesized flourishes, leisurely swirling into tormented ebbs and flows. "Part 2: the Dusk" the weary inflections of a grand piano (yes, Herr Haslinger), meandering after a full day of extenuating crashing, swelling, bobbing and rolling manages to express the cyclical power of the majestic cetacean beast and its even wider watery expanse . A powerful Froese fret solo swishes through the haze as the glowing oceanic sun gently prepares for bed. "Dolphin Dance" is much more playful, in reflecting the porpoises joyful attitude, with flipping (sorry, couldn't help it!) rhythms, swift acrobatics and mischievous glee. "Ride on the Ray" seemingly refers to that diabolically unique ocean creature, the Sting Ray and provides the platform for another elegant display of Froese's guitar prowess, with mesmerizing synthetic rhythms adding movement to the flow, a spell binding piece that has immense melodic staying power. Chris Franke has always been the "rhythm" merchant and on "Scuba Scuba", he showcases his wondrous talents with some poignant electronic percussion, all subtlety and grace, while Haslinger and Froese drift about, wisps of synthesized splendor and brisk sophistication meandering gracefully. The title track closes out this magnificent marvel, certainly in the same league as chef- d'oeuvres "Phaedra", "Rubycon", "Force Majeure" and the live masterpieces "Pergamon" and "Ricochet". Henceforth, this gentle, elegant and unpretentious music has and for evermore will, conjure the fondest memories of a true friend, a musical companion and an eternal soul. 5 blessed Antoines .
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Many feel that this is the last great TANGERINE DREAM album. Hard to disagree. Schmoelling has just left to be replaced by the classically trained Austrian Paul Haslinger. While Paul didn't compose any of these tracks he certainly left his mark on this record, especially with his piano work. Anyway he seems to have ignited the creative juices of Froese and Franke and given them a renewed energy as well. A definite theme to this album with the "ocean" being the subject.

I have to say that the side long suite "Song Of The Whale" is possibly the best composition i've ever heard from this band. As tszirmay mentions in his review there is so much emotion, and the guitar work of Froese is outstanding. It opens with these electronic sounds as the guitar and a lush sound take over. The feeling you get is of the sun rising over the ocean and we can hear the sounds of sea creatures and water. This is so uplifting and moving. The guitar cries out 3 1/2 minutes in. A powerful soundscape before 5 1/2 minutes before we get some more amazing guitar around 7 minutes. Part two of this suite opens with grand piano then synths wash in around 2 minutes.The sequencers come in and this all sounds so beautiful until around 5 minutes when it turns bombastic. Guitar 6 1/2 minutes in before it turns soft and lush again 7 minutes in. The guitar is back ! This is so impressive. Even the way it ends with that powerful atmosphere.

"Dolphin Dance" features a beat with spacey synths. This sounds so good. Guitar before 2 minutes. The synths after 3 minutes sound like a guitar. The last three tracks are not nearly as good as the first three. If I was rating the first half alone it would be easily 5 stars. The tempo starts to pick up on "Ride On The Ray" before a minute. A good beat continues. Guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. Good tune. "Scuba Scuba" is spacey with a beat and seems a little uninspired to me. "Underwater Twilight" has this intro that I would describe as heavenly. It changes 2 minutes in as we get a beat with synths playing over top.

I really like the combination of electric guitar with electronics like on the later HELDON albums.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars For a change, the listener is brought into the depths of the waters while listening to this TD album!

For sure that a band like "Land's End" must have listened to this work profoundly? This is quite enjoyable music: ambient, smooth, "watered", personal and full of tact. We are far from these upbeats available during some of their previous (but still good) albums.

The usual TD fan can again get identified with this work and the brilliant second part of the song of the whale. What a nice musical experience by all means! While most of the prog giants we all love were releasing quite ambiguous material, TD were consistent and brave. Edgar on the guitar is again great.

I am not saying that this album is a masterpiece, but it offers so many pleasure to my old ears that I just can recommend it to you, prog lovers. Infinite exquisite like the sublime "Invisible Limits" are not featured on this "Underwater Sunlight", but the global feeling is rather on the positive side (even if "Dolphin Dance" and "Ride on the Ray" are too much "dance" oriented to my liking).

It is obvious that there are two distinctive parts in this album: a traditional one with the "Whale" epic and a more modern TD with the shorter tracks. I guess that you might know where my votes are going?

One can enjoy the depths of the sea with "Scuba Scuba". Mysterious, not too synthetic as the previous two tracks, this is again a fine TD piece. It offers these remarkable and so identifiable sounds I so much love.

And the closing number is another moving, relaxing and wonderful piece of music. The band is at their best and it is only a pity that this great moment doesn't last for a longer time. It clocks at a mere six minutes but could have been so well developed!

Seven out of ten is more than accurate but this rating is unfortunately not possible here. Therefore, I can only upgrade it to the four stars status.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars The electronic music of TANGERINE DREAM is designed to slowly and seductively charm us listeners rather than bowl us over. Even their best albums are more sultry than aggressive. In fact, up until "Underwater Sunlight", only the anomaly of "Cyclone" really hits hard, even if its long lasting impact might be subject to scrutiny.

But here, from the opening notes of "Song of the Whale Part 1", we squarely face the rocky visage of TD, and crampons are recommended! The group has us scaling the heights and the depths of life as a whale, with dramatic flourishes aplenty and just the right degree of sentimentality. The acoustic and electric guitars dominate whole sections as they rarely have before in the TD canon. The theme is truly ahh-inspiring and with appropriate repetitive reinforcement, and the denouement is breathtaking.

Unfortunately, nothing else on the album comes close, even if Part 2 begins with lovely piano and boasts more skilled lead guitar work, and "Ride on the Ray" is an ambient delight with a hypnotic melody. "Dolphin Dance" is a fair educated guess as to what these cetaceans might do when the lights go down, or what they might have done in the mid 1980s anyways! But the album closes weakly, with the charisma-free "Scuba Scuba" and the somewhat better but still dull "Underwater Twilight".

Far better than simply treading water, "Underwater Sunlight" affirms Tangerine Dream's role as a progressive beacon in the sunspot year of 1986. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars A pretty big upswing in the musical direction of Tangerine Dream. It's just a pity it didn't last. Everything that follows is worse than poor. Certainly their best effort since 1979's Force Majeure. It does all sound very 80's - but I really like all the treated guitars on this one. The production is excellent with everything sounding crystal clear. The first two tracks are definitely worthy of 5 stars, but things go downhill on side two where the tunes are more bland, two of which go in one ear and out the other. Song of the Whale however, in my books is a masterpiece, where the band for once show genuine emotion. I've heard around twenty five of their albums and I'd definitely say to beginners to go for 'Rubycon' or 'Ricochet' which are two of the best electronic albums ever recorded. The earlier you go with Tangerine Dream the creepier they sounded. This ain't creepy at all, but does sound very pretty and synthetic. However, it's far better than it's predecessor "Le Parc' which is very much 'hit or miss', full of four to five minute tunes, which do very little to me, or other reviewers, as I can gather.
Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars Underwater Sunlight, being from the '80s, is of course plagued by the cheesy new-age effects of electronic music from that era. Fortunately, this album actually integrates those elements decently with remaining slightly progressive. Obviously, this album isn't going to be anything like Phaedra or Rubycon, or even Cyclone or White Eagle. Underwater Sunlight is still commercialized '80s new-age music, with corny super-powered guitar playing to match (sometimes sound like rejected Top Gun anthems).

The spacey, cosmic, and dark atmospheric qualities of Tangerine Dream's classic material is long gone. However, for being as cheesy and poppy as this album is, it's still very convincing of an underwater atmosphere. So, that is the positive remark on this album: convincing enough underwater atmosphere. If that's what you're looking for, then this album is for you. But be forewarned, this isn't the dark, pulsing Tangerine Dream that is loved by most.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I've seen one Earth Underwater.

The meaning of the above sentence is that Peter Bardens released his first newage fashioned album "Seen One Earth" in 1987 and this "Underwater Sunset" that's very similar in sounds and atmosphere is from 1988.

Yes, it's mainly newage, full of major chords and relaxing rhythms but respect to the Bardens' album it has an extraordinary good guitarist in Edgar Froese. The guitar's sound is not too dissimilar from the usual squared waves coming from the keyboards, but this is one of the few TD albums on which we can hear proper guitar riffs as in a rock album.

The only track that sounds totally Tangerine Dream is the closer "Underwater Twilight" that's repetitive and hypnotic like many of their older things, but all the album is enjoyable.

Of course we are far from things like Ricochet or Phaedra, not to mention the pink albums, but this is better than all the useless soundtracks released in this period. An excellent background for relaxing moments, as most of what is called newage plus with some highlights in Froese's guitar parts.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars TANGERINE DREAM turns new-age...

3.5 stars

... and it will never be the same again. After Johannes Schmoelling's departure last year, "Underwater Sunlight" is the first album featuring the young Paul Haslinger. Although entirely composed by Froese and Franke, this record marks a clear rupture with their previous albums. Much more melodic and rock-oriented, with cristalline and artificial 80's sonorities, the music has adopted the new-age fashion. The title suggests an aquatic ecological concept album. Is this the case? Let's see.

"Song Of The Whale" is TD's last long studio epic. This track the main interest of the record and a pleasant submarine musical piece. Part 1 displays a soothing ambiance with its delicate sequence and Gilmour-ian guitar play. Part 2 has a soft piano intro and a cool guitar solo. Comforting music.

"Dolphin Dance" is the poppy moment of the album. A nice energic little tune. "Ride On The Ray" is a calm and enjoyable pleasant new-age track, prefiguring the style of their next future albums (without the guitar however). Unfortunately, the last two tracks are less inspired. "Scuba Scuba" is clearly a filler. Repetitive and with no real direction, it sometimes sounds a bit messy. The ending track, "Underwater Twilight", is atmospheric and rather average.

Album title, tracks names, music, cover: everything is coherent, the submarine theme is respected. More progressive and homogeneous than its predecessor, and despite weaker passages, "Underwater Sunlight" is enjoyable, relaxing and possesses its own identity. The cheesiness of some passages and the dated sonorities are counterbalanced by the guitar soli. Overall, the ambiance is warmer and softer than on the Schmoelling-era. Many early fans will dislike this record, but it may attract new fans.

The best TANGERINE DREAM studio album of the late 80's, and their only convincing incursion into the new-age genre. However, "Underwater Sunlight" is also their last correct opus before a very very long time...

Review by Warthur
4 stars Considering the sheer mass of material Tangerine Dream cranked out in the 1980s between studio albums, live albums, soundtracks and archival releases, it's easy to feel swamped by it all, and there's some justification to the idea that Edgar Froese and his cohorts spread themselves too thin. Underwater Sunlight, however, is a highlight of their mid-1980s torrent of material, with Froese and Paul Haslinger trading soaring guitar solos over an impeccably composed and produced synthesiser backing. It's a bit New Age in terms of both theme and execution, but if all New Age music were like this then we'd be lucky, lucky listeners.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars After 28 albums, what is it about the 29th studio album by Tangerine Dream that sets it apart from the many others that came before it (and after for that matter)? The biggest thing is that this is the first album that Paul Haslinger would be involved in. Paul would become a regular member of the group for 5 years in which 15 albums would be released. That's an impressive chunk of discography for that amount of time. Paul had been classically trained at the Vienna Academy of Music and the University of Vienna during which time he became a session musician. Tangerine Dream was his first really big break. This album sees the introduction of his influence and experiments with just how his influence was going to be integrated into TD's sound.

The album 'Underwater Sunlight' is obviously centered around music influenced by marine life. The band typically made their albums based around a certain topic and created the music around that. Paul also brought a more standardized songwriting approach compared to what was used earlier by the band.

The first side of the album is devoted to a 2 part suite called 'Song of the Whale'. The first part is called 'From Dawn . . .'. After a free style atmospheric introduction, the track picks up a melody in a keyboard style sound which is contrasted by an airy vocal sounding effect produced electronically creating a counter melody. A fast moving arpeggio style background moves things forward. Around 3 minutes, an echoing guitar solo provided by Edgar Forese takes over for a short while, then things go electronic for a little while longer. At 4:30, a loud crashing effect signals the beginning of an intense guitar solo with the arpeggio pattern continuing in the background. The guitar stays at the fore until the 7 minute mark where things calm down until the arpeggio builds again, ending the track on a loud orchestral hit.

The second part is called ' . . . to Dusk', and we can really hear the newcomer's influence here. This one begins with a nice piano solo by Paul. This goes on until the 2 minute mark where atmospheric synths come in and start to take over. The music gets a placid atmosphere and eventually, a harp effect fades in. Again, synthesized vocal effects are used. At 4:30, a rhythm is established and a synth takes the melody and builds on it. We enter into a more structured sound as we also move into an accessible, almost commercial sound as things intensify, similar to a new age feel. Another guitar driven melody comes in at 6 minutes, but at 7 minutes, everything takes a more atmospheric turn. Again there is another build and the guitar pushes this forward. There are a few times when the track threatens to push beyond the new age realm, but never really does. Things fade at the last minute and we sink into an electronic drone.

The next half of the album consists of tracks that stay around the 5 minute mark. 'Dolphin Dance' is the first of these, and this starts right off with an up tempo electronically produced rhythm and a synth led melody with a harpsichord sounding effect. Orchestration is good here as it ushers in a guitar solo then it returns to a 2nd melody with the synth and guitars taking turns. The beat is very 80's influenced and continues on throughout the track.

'Ride on the Ray' has a definite 80's style keyboard beginning, and a more mid-tempo rhythm. It is driven by a clavichord style melody. Once again, a guitar solo begins, thus falling into the same pattern as the previous track. The syth effects in this one are at least richer than the previous track, but the sound of the era is quite prevalent making things sound a little dated. 'Scuba Scuba' is a bit darker sounding, but pretty much follows the established pattern that has now been laid out by the previous tracks, maybe a little less melodic.

Finally, the last track 'Underwater Twilight' has some cool effects that make it sound like a muted synth with some vocalized electronic effects. This track is more ambient and less new age like. An electronic rhythm does form, but it is not as annoying as the last few tracks. The keyboards play a melody based on a chordal pattern. There is even some room for experimentation here, but not much. It is a better track, but a little too late.

Paul's influence is pretty obvious on this album and would dictate the route the band was going to pursue for a while. The more accessible sound of the 80s would become more prominent as TD sought to expand it's fanbase during a time when new age and new wave were popular. The album isn't bad, but it does sound dated, and, of course, I miss the more experimental era of the band. The use of more guitar solos is great at first, but when things fall into the pattern of having to have a predictable guitar solo in each track, it soon gets old. There are better TD albums out there, but at least the first half is decent on this album, and the 2nd half is quite run-of-the-mill.

Review by patrickq
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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The membership is changing (gone is Johannes Schmoelling) but the sound continues. And for those hoping/expecting a continuity between the band's classic side-long epics of the middle 1970s, let go! This is a different era; the band has different, more melodic goals and styles to explore.

1. "Song of the Whale - Part 1: From Dawn... (8:20) acoustic guitars! Fairlight "breath" synth sounds! Clearly lead wailing/searing electric guitar solos! Is this really TD? Is it really progressive electronic? It doesn't matter: it's beautiful; it works; it's powerful. Edgar Froese is a really great guitarist. The computerized sounds and programs really sound great from these masters of synthetic music. (18/20)

2. "Song of the Whale - Part 2: Dusk (10:53) Not nearly as engaging (due to its very dated sound palette as well as the mystifying removal of all guitars from the baseline weave) as the previous part of the suite, this one sounds more like a 1980s movie soundtrack (think Axel Foley or Fletch or one of the many John Hughes films). (16.75/20)

3. "Dolphin Dance" (5:02) modern pseudo-"dance" schlock. (8/10)

4. "Ride On the Ray" (5:32) opens like some 80s folk Christmas music before cheesy drum machine enters (far in the background). I actually quite like the weave of folk-instruments and synth washes in the background, great sound and melodies. And Edgar's guitar lead is great (if not quite fitting). It's the background rhythm "instruments" and sounds I dislike. A tough one to rate. (8.5/10)

5. "Scuba Scuba" (4:24) Trevor Horn meets Harold Faltermeyer. As the song never really takes off, it makes me wonder if it was just a sound experiment that was thrown on the album/CD as last-minute filler. I like the soundscape presented--it's very cinematic--but, again, it feels unfinished--or, at least, undeveloped. (8.5/10)

6. "Underwater Twilight" (5:52) there is so little here to remind one of the TD of old; this is more like a modern New Age thing, than something from experienced masters of synthesized music. It is, however, a little more developed/realized than the previous song--with far better drum/percussion noises used. The strings synth used, however, is dated and rather annoying. (8.25/10)

Total Time 40:03

A good, though not great, display of TD sound and the genius of Edgar Froese and Christoph Franke for their remarkable adaptability to the new equipment and technologies available with the passage of time. Still, one great song does not make this an album that I can recommend highly to prog lovers. Also rated down for the dated short length of the album. (Perhaps they were still trying to produce only vinyl releases.)

Latest members reviews

2 stars I usually read reviews on Prog Archives to get hints about records/bands unknown to me. I read good ones and bad ones because I learned that most reviewers on this site tend to exagerate in both directions, so I try an "average" ideas approach. But then sometimes I read reviews about records I do ... (read more)

Report this review (#502857) | Posted by scandosch | Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Probably one of the best TANGERINE DREAM release from the FRANK FROEZE HASSLINGER era, it's a fact that it sounds a bit eighties ( comparing to RUBYCON for instance ) but the production is good, not flashy, and the music is tasteful , inspired and adventurous, technology being used to serve mu ... (read more)

Report this review (#303880) | Posted by jean-marie | Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After getting my hands of Rubycon earlier this year, I made it my intension to further explore the work of Tangerine Dream. The first album I've been able to get a hold of since is Underwater Sunlight. Things have certainly changed in the decade between the two albums. As I am new to the band I wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#288015) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An amazing album of Tangerine Dream. If electronic music is not my favourite kind of music, this album is special because have a great and melodic guitar, it makes me remember Pink Floyd in some parts, and a piano in some musics. I like the first, and second musics, sound of the whale part 1 and ... (read more)

Report this review (#203432) | Posted by Joćo Paulo | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The exceptional work on this CD is THE perfect TD Resume. Underwater Sunlight shows you why Tangerine Dream is the BEST electronic-rock band in the world. I know; every single CD from TD is a Masterpiece, and, each one is totally unique. But this Masterpiece is everything: it is mystical, very em ... (read more)

Report this review (#70864) | Posted by eloquence | Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me nothing that TANGERINE DREAM has done before or since surpasses this brilliant and beautiful album. This was my introduction to the band, bought from "Gothic Image" on an early trip to Glastonbury - a perfect setting, and a whole new experience which I and my family shared and enjoyed on our ... (read more)

Report this review (#36035) | Posted by | Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of TANGERINE DREAM "Underwater Sunlight"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.