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Edgar Froese

Progressive Electronic

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Edgar Froese Aqua album cover
3.68 | 114 ratings | 15 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aqua (16:58)
2. Panorphelia (9:38)
3. NGC 891 (14:50)
4. Upland (6:31)

Total Time 47:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / keyboards, producer

- Chris Franke / Moog (3)
- GŁnther Brunschen / Fx

Releases information

Artwork: Monique Froese (photo)

LP Virgin ‎- V 2016 (1974, UK)
LP Brain ‎- 1053 (1974, Germany) Different track running order

CD Virgin ‎- CDV 2016 (1990, UK)
CD Eastgate ‎- 005 CD (2005, Germany) Re-recording of 1974 compositions (See separate entry on Discography)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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EDGAR FROESE Aqua ratings distribution

(114 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

EDGAR FROESE Aqua reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Until seeing the cover art on the Internet last year I had completely forgotten that I had the LP in the 1970s. I finally tracked down the album again after weeks of trying unsuccessfully to find out on which album TANGERINE DREAM used the binaural recording technique, only to rediscover that it was in fact this first solo release from EDGAR FROESE and not something by TANGERINE DREAM. I think curiosity about the use of the binaural recording technique was the reason I bought the LP in the first place (that, and the Modular Moog); it was also the reason I sought out the CD years later.

The binaural technique - developed at the Technical University, Berlin - consists of placing a microphone in each ear of a dummy head, the idea being that the recording should sound very realistic when played back via headphones. Somewhat disappointingly, EDGAR FROESE only used the technique to record the sound of a jet airliner and road traffic for the track 'ngc 891'. Apparently the dummy head was hung from a window of his Berlin apartment. It was avant-garde for the time, but then FROESE was a pioneer.

If you are familiar with the electronic 'space music' of TANGERINE DREAM and/or KLAUS SCHULZE then you'll have a very good idea what this album sounds like. Synthesizers, sequencers and other electronic keyboards are used to produce varying tones, pulsing, bubbling, whirring, droning, chirping and other electronic noises, often hypnotic and apparently ideal for getting stoned or for just chilling out. Much of it is very relaxing, that's for sure. The tracks are more varied than the trance music of KLAUS SCHULZE, and more like the output of TANGERINE DREAM.

Well, after having completely forgotten what the album sounded like, was I impressed when I spun the CD? Not really. On the plus side the tracks are varied: organic, trance, mellow, ambient. but the album is not as good as the hit 1974 album "Phaedra" from TANGERINE DREAM, released not long before "Aqua" in early 1975 (I think). "Aqua" sounds 'raw' in comparison to "Phaedra" and sounds as if it predates "Phaedra".

The 17-minute title track starts and ends with the sound of running water (recorded in FROESE's Berlin apartment), mixed with the sounds from the electronic instruments. The water sounds occasionally reappear in the track. It's a reasonable track - very spaced-out and relaxing, with the odd flash of brilliance - but I don't think it's the sublime piece claimed by some.

Although simpler, I enjoy more the track 'panorphelia' with its Mellotron over sequencer, more reminiscent of the trance style of KLAUS SCHULZE or TANGERINE DREAM on some of their pieces. I especially like the pulsing, which sounds like it should be coming from a buzzing high voltage transformer in Dr Frankenstein's laboratory.

The track 'ngc 891' is named after a nebula, but it is this track that includes the overdubbed sound of a jet aircraft and city traffic recorded from a window of FROESE's apartment. Hardly cosmic! The jet aircraft recording sounds crackly and is not impressive: I can't detect anything special from the binaural recording. The piece itself feels to me like a comment on a drab, lonely city existence rather than a visit to a far-flung nebula. Guest artist Chris Franke used the Modular Moog on this track, and I must say it does sound very good once things get going.

The last, and shortest, track 'upland' is not particularly interesting to me. The organ sounds a bit too ecclesiastical for my liking; I enjoy ecclesiastical sounding organ but, to me, it doesn't fit that well here just wandering around aimlessly.

The original LP was released by Virgin, and so was the CD I bought (CDV 2016, released 1987). The sound quality of the CD is not very good. Also, the laser head in my CD player can be heard thrashing around at times, presumably a sign that a lot of re-reading is going on. The CD is in mint condition and there are no visible blemishes, so I think it's just a cheaply manufactured, low quality Virgin CD. The cover has the same cheap feel to it: you can see where the text on the LP cover was covered by cut-and-paste patches from other parts of the cover and re-photographed. The photograph is also less distinct than on the original LP cover, which is a pity as the blue-tinted ice crystals are quite striking. If you really want to hear "Aqua", in my opinion you'd be better off either waiting for Virgin to issue a digital re-master or buying the recently released 2005 re-recording from the EDGAR FROESE Web site shop, although I have not yet heard the latter. N.B. re-recording, not re-mastering. It's a pity the cover art is completely different on the 2005 release, though.

In conclusion, if you like this kind of electronic 'space music' you can do better than this in my opinion: check out the TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE albums contemporary to "Aqua", or the second solo album "Epsilon In Malaysian Pale", which is regarded by many to be better. I would have liked more experimentation with the binaural recording technique: a whole album with the dummy head in the middle of a studio with all sorts of electronic instruments spread around it. However I do feel a bit mean criticising the album on the basis of the binaural recording, as even the limited use on "Aqua" was very innovatory. But I just expected more from it.

Overall, then, the album is historically interesting and parts are pleasing although I don't think it is outstanding. My initial inclination was to give it a 2.5-star rating (if that were possible, that is) but I'll go with 3 stars (Good, but not essential) as it does get better on repeated listening or if you are sufficiently mellow.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Aqua" can easily be considered as the best Edgar Froese's effort next to "Epsilon on Malaysian Pale". This album is a representative introduction to Edgar Froese or Tangerine Dream's musical universe. The technology in use is in the direct line of albums as "Phaedra", "Rubycon" (Rhythmic Moog modulated ostinato, unique arpegiated sound) incorporating a few influences from TD's earlier period (with organic, ambient Mellotron lines). This recording very well summarizes all early TD meditative, typical electronic / synth experiments. In addition, Aqua features many manipulations of sounds taken from concrete noises (as Airplane, Water). The album begins with a very aquatic piece, including long dreamy, meditative nature keyboards lines, including electronic gadgets. The two following musical landscapes continue into a deep journey throw time and space. Next to environmental sounds we can hear some very beautiful Melottron/ Moog synth lines moved into a pulsating sequencer (in the vein of "Rubycon"). The last title produces a hypnotic background with an endless driving sequencer mixed with an introvert, deeply spiritual repetitive organ sound. "Aqua" is a little classic album, experimentating the electronic roots in popular music!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Get those stereophonic headphones ready

"Aqua" is effectively a Tangerine Dream album by another name. From the opening ambient washes of liquid sounds and the floating synths, we are presented with an album which mirrors the early 70's work of the Tangs. If anything, the overall impression is that there is even less in the way of composition here, and more in the way of waves of sounds. While most Tangerine Dream albums have sections where a melody is at least hinted at, the title track here never develops from the predictable introduction.

"Panorphelia" and the two further tracks on side 2 redress the balance and find Froese in full Tangerine Dream mode. Indeed, much of the music here could have formed a second disc for "Rubycon", such is the similarity with the content of that album and its peers.

The sleeve notes bear the instruction "To appreciate fully the revolutionary artificial head system developed by Gunther Brunschen listen to side 2 on stereo headphones". This refers to some rudimentary sound effects which have been added to "NGC891". To be honest those effects, while mildly diverting, are superfluous to the integrity of the track.

For those who enjoy the albums of Tangerine Dream from the early 1970's and who seek more of the same, "Aqua" is something of a forgotten gem. For the rest, there is nothing here to make this an essential acquisition. If you have the opportunity to hear it though, it is worth the effort.

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Here's a simple and luminating introduction for an album of heavy manners and distinguished art: Edgar Froese plays the essential role in Tangerine Dream, whether constructive and inspirational, crafting or improvising, controlling or disparaging, self-centering or generously avoiding the anxiety of blank music therapy (listing a couple of known orientation for him). He's a full front musician of impeccable "dreams" and imperative rhythms, in a time when Tangerine Dream offered the great impact in the short term of impressive electronic, and later in the times of surviving the same desires or managing radical new ones. In solo, Froese is the most prominent artist from Tangerine Dream (then again, we can't figure Franke or Schmoelling any more referential in a time of plague 80s and 90s, the classic mood was a sincere advantage for Froese to obtain some good works, only after to fall himself into treacherous mood and "moog" dispositions) ; the serum between the link of the great band and the private space of the solo adventure are never farfetched, even maintain a contemporary feeling. In the solitary dynamic of electronic music, Edgar Froese a couple of good albums that prove an essential mark, a very elevated train of composition, a highly defined familiarity of excellent taste and a good brew of synthesizing out the cosmic unravel within a head's sheer intuition, the abstract melody inside a point of pleasure, or the shape of clusters and the language of abstract by the resource of feeling open the sound, the time, the space and the motown melody. Outside these great elements, Froese continues on a share of lesser inquiring experiments, on works of soft evolution and on the more rough ways of him "dominating" the keyboard figure and "controlling" the linguine stage of electronic ardor.

Aqua astonished me, from early moment of discovering out Froese's own meads of self-portrait and motivated sound play to these monotonous achieved present years of knowing by touch his work, his sound, his style, as an essential, very artistic, cubic-closed and synth-malady album, as a debut of more than hoping great stuff, a work of more than expected detailed, hardened or aspersed elements, as a key brand dynamic composition meant for the subsuming planes of creativity, dark impression or tempting artistic ideas. And maybe out of all this exciting solo craft, the album doesn't receive the excellent review and the utmost congratulation, yet it seems lonely in its valuable haste of atypical, atonal and arrhythmic forces, the prime kind, the essential tone. To a sincere talk about how important Froese goes, till where and till when, he doesn't realize more than two grand, artistic and subtle works, this one and the next Epsilon In Malaysian Pale; and I wouldn't award the best kind of electronic suspired, synopsized and contempt to anything else than Aqua, first of all an exhaustive program of tough electronics and ambient lines, afterwards a difficult to placid listening, a language from tough to ironic, a work-load from adapted to self-controlled.

Aqua as level and craft is between Phaedra and Rubycon, meaning a very powerful experiment of ambient music, synth tonalities, wave-clusters and passionate afflictions/affections of adamant, impersonal, grave pressed and high sub-sequined music sculpture. Phaedra is of course an exaggerate point of view, then again two things (Froese being the composer of the inversed-color electro liquid fantasy and ambient-volatility "strand of nightmares", from the classic Tangerine Dream album, and the great detail of very tough expected music in this solo debut) almost allude the contemporary orientation which, without problems, helps Froese coordinate a very powerful masterpiece like Phaedra and a very transitory ambient-abstract explosion like Aqua. Articulate and neuralgic, this album would actually face the complaint of too late and too open experiments, yet, even if this is the best creation boiling point of Froese and his synth-essays, I say it's totally worth.

A great value I treasure for Aqua is yet something also missed from the high places of eclectic electronic and concentrating ambient recognition (mainly from the little exuberance or the too loaded craft it may have, then for not having essential sound-parts of special grip and taste). The enormous title track experiment is a complete fascination, from the elementary works of synths and ambient, to the phonetic and plastic sounds of water and cascade sampling, in great touch with a mist symbol and a suffocating parlor of wobbling sensation. A piece of long-stretch minimalism and monotony, yet a very serious effect of heavy works and volcanic precisions on what is the music of the numb taste, the sylph inside the creative touch and the hard resound of a clean potable disambiguation. The 16 minutes unbelievably balanced caustic and cognitive water-fluxion title track is essential, by my standards. Next there are three piece that try to combine the never to bright ambient and sequence with the never to exempt dark motives, crystal coils and powerful dualisms of sound, connection, fun render or moods. What is exciting from Panorphelia is an ambient-vibrations course and seasoned essence, plus small incision in the matter-lapping usual flow of stressing sounds and minimal over-runs. ngc 891, brewed under a special instrument and oriented towards more sequentialism, is another favorite of mine, since it grows, after the five minutes of Brownian sound-cycle into a game of a small sequence, with a totally ironic flair, a wheeling punctuation and a dissonance, almost showing the interest to not have a catchy rhythm, but an art course of "metamorphic" electronic illusions. Upland fights another minor ambient exposure, till the point of sketching down some cold sinus vibrations and some sound-phones effect. The album is totally appreciable, though a cold, "still-scaped", mono-powered and rupture-crystallizing essence from it recommends it, doubtlessly, for the mass experiment and the unique time of electronic music being a sensation design of cluster and disambiguation, then a great listening powder. By all taste, Froese grows more attractive stuff. By all standards, this is a peak and a momentary exceptional shape.

Edgar Froese's masterpiece, if ever to name one great achievement of his own bare work (though it nothing flawless to think off or contagious to excite from), is Aqua, ambient, experimental, abstract, liquid, chloroform and phase-phelic. Timeless and hard to obtain, I always prefer to admire this album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was Edgar Froese's (TANGERINE DREAM) debut album released in 1974. He takes care of pretty much all of the music except for the guest moog on "NGC 891" by Chris Franke.Edgar uses a variety of keyboards including organ and mellotron along with some added samples.

"Acqua" opens with the sound of running water as spacey synths come in along with other sounds.The running water is back briefly 4 minutes in and later at 13 1/2 minutes. It becomes very haunting after 14 minutes then ends with the sound of water. Cool track ! "Panorphelia"is pretty much a platform for Edgar to show what his mellotron can do. It does plenty. Haha. Amazing soundscape !

"NGC 891" is my favourite track, slightly ahead of the previous composition. It's spacey to start out and then the sound of a jet passes over, it's back 2 1/2 minutes in. It sounds like cars going by after 3 minutes.Then a sad spacey mood takes over. Moog before 4 1/2 minutes as TANGERINE DREAM comes to mind. Great sound before 6 minutes. I love how spacey this is. "Upland" is really where the organ comes to the fore. Pulsating sounds to open as the organ comes in. It's only organ 5 1/2 minutes in and then spacey sounds end it.

I've come to really appreciate good soundscape music like this. Great music to put on when I go to bed as I drift off into the night.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars When I purchased this album in the 70s, I was looking for something different. It was just the cover design that caught my attention, but after one spin up I gave it to a friend that I knew was inside this kind of electronic music. After 35 years, I found myself walking nightly in a desert city during the summer, with Aqua in my mp3 reader and I have totally changed my mind. 4 minutes of relaxing water sounds are useful to put your mind in the right mood, so to be ready when the spacey keyboards come. Water-like sounds continue moving from one ear to the other overlapping the relaxing keyboard base (mostly square waves). You can't probably play it while you are driving on a motorway, but any quiet environment is the right place. Even if water (Aqua is the latin word for water) is typical of planet Earth, you can easily project your mind to the deep space. This music is made of sensations. It's a freefall. At least until minute 12, when some dissonant sounds in the background and an electronic helicopter add some dramaticity to the atmosphere. But it's just a spot. It suddenly goes back to the deep space, then water returns and after some more dissonancies, closes the piece in the same way it was started.

Panorphelia opens with a loop of windy noise on which an electronic bass gives some rhythm. Immediately a mellotron comes. The sound and the melody are quite Floydian, just a bit more electronic. I think the influence of Early Pink Floyd is evident on this track. As the previous one, it closes as it started.

From wikipedia: NGC 891 is an edge on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel . This track is exactly what you can expect from the title: pure space music. The electronic sound on the base reminds to the "Forbidden planet"'s soundtrack. A jet flies over your head, a car runs on your left while your starship moves to Andromeda. Definitely a TD track. I don't want to be heretic, but I think Pete Bardens was inspired in some way by this track when he composed "Seen one Earth".

Upland has the same structure of the first two tracks, but the keyboard now sounds like a church organ. You are still in the space, even if the keyboards make a bit more of melody. Only during the last minute some stranger sounds override the organ.

I don't want to compare this album to TD. At the time I listened to it for the first time, I didn't know anything of them.

If you like travelling between the galaxies, this album is for you.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fans of Tangerine Dream who have neglected group leader Edgar Froese's solo output are really missing out on something special. Specifically, they're missing out on what are basically more Tangerine Dream albums from their most respected period!

Aqua is Froese's first solo outing, released the same year as the celebrated Phaedra, and in my view every bit as good. It contains the same sequencer driven analog synth soundscapes that became the group's trademark, as well as a few slightly more experimental touches here and there.

While the sound is similar to Phaedra in many ways, Aqua nevertheless feels like its own record, with a tone that is if anything more unified than that of its sister album. The title suggests that we're in for a watery experience, and to a certain extent that's true. The title track is basically seventeen minutes of bubbling noises with slow synth melodies layered underneath. However, on the whole I think the album sounds more airy than liquid, with a sort of high, thinness that puts one in mind of jet engines.

Indeed, the second side of the record opens with a jet engine kicking off the track NGC 891. It was on this track that Froese attempted some (not entirely successful) experiments with early surround sound. It is a very spacey track and in my opinion the more enjoyable of the two long pieces on display here.

Another track, Panorphelia, conjures up images of touring the beautiful countryside in a hovercraft, while the album ends on a slightly spooky Hammond organ workout called Upland. The record as a whole seems to me very positive and future-centric, focused on flight and exploration. It's lighter in mood than the concurrent TG releases, and reminds me of that 1950s brand of science fiction filled with unbridled optimism at the joy of new technology.

Froese seems to be reveling in that joy as he discovers the possibilities associated with synthesizers, and is having great fun making music of the future. A thoroughly enjoyable slice of vintage electronica.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Aqua, the debut album by the great Edgar Froese, is a wonderful oceanic-themed album that is much more convincing of its subject matter than the late Tangerine Dream album Underwater Sunlight. Really, though, the experimental electronic effects on this album aren't too different from what you'd expect from the usual spacey experimental progressive electronic. But, the resonating and the spatial squealing and clicking is much more convincing of communicating dolphins rather than planetary magnetic fields or intergalactic communication with extraterrestrial life, which is most likely due to the obvious change in context for this album. This change in context but similarity in sound really show that both sides of this world seem to be enigmatic to human life: much of both the ocean and far stretches of outer-space are still left unexplored and remain mysterious, and tectonic and oceanic sounds on earth are similar to magnetic sonorities radiating from other planets. "Pancrphelia" sounds like a gloomier and more oceanic themed version of Kraftwerk's "Spacelab" from The Man-Machine, which explains my point further.

I'd like to say that this album is on par with Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, but I honestly consider this album to be better. I might be in the minority in my decision, but I think this album is more deserving of a masterpiece rating than the follow-up. High recommended to adventurous Tangerine Dream fans.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Aqua was a cheap and cheerful album knocked off by Edgar Froese as a means of raising money to buy more equipment for Tangerine Dream. Consequently, the album sounds like a second-class version of Phaedra, with most of the tracks sounding like rejected first drafts for that album. Releasing the album under his own name did allow Froese to avoid diluting the Tangerine Dream brand by shipping less compelling products under its name (though the explosion of TD releases in the 1980s undid all that good work), but ultimately it doesn't offer much that differs greatly from what TD were doing at the time - only it's less fresh and compelling. Collectors only, I'm afraid.
Review by stefro
3 stars Exhibiting the same slow-burning electronic rhythms, twittering sound effects, twinkling keyboard melodies and late-night ambience found on his main body of work with Tangerine Dream, the real question raised here: is this really a solo album? Well, just about. Almost halfway between mid-period Tangerine Dream and the early- seventies output of Froese's ex-colleague Klaus Schulze, 'Aqua' is a hypnotic brew of keyboard-bred sonic patterns doused in the usual plethora of atmospheric sound effects. It's slowly-unfurling nature puts it alongside the likes of 'Rubycon' and 'Stratosfear', though pinches of Schulze's 'Irrlicht' and 'Timewind' can also be picked up by eagle-eared listeners who concentrate carefully enough. Those Tangerine Dream nuts who absolutely must have everything the group have produced will delight on what is essentially another group release, those who enjoy the early strains of retro-electronica are also advised to investigate. Decent then, but don't expect any big surprises.


Review by Modrigue
3 stars Phaedra's companion disc

3.5 stars

After the release of "Atem" in 1973, TANGERINE DREAM left the German record label Ohr to sign for Virgin. As Edgar Froese decided to devote his career for his band, he also signed for Virgin and received supplementary financial advances, that allowed TD to develop and buy their cutting edge electronic equipments, especially the Modular Moog synthesizer.

Recorded in winter 1973/1974 in Berlin after "Green Desert", the compositions of "Aqua" can be considered as drafts or B-sides of "Phaedra". Froese reworked the tracks and released them under his artist name. Only "NGC 831" features a guest apparition, his colleague Christopher Franke.

Although more ambient and experimental than the well-known TD's 1974 opus, the music is more accessible than the band's material during their previous Ohr years, and shows Froese venturing into unknown territories at the time. The four featured tracks are quite heterogeneous and do not totally resemble TANGERINE DREAM. These last points are the main interests of "Aqua", its unique sound and atmosphere.

The 17 minutes title track is very ambient and aquatic. It consists mainly in liquid drip sonorities over mysterious and relaxing long synthesizer waves. The water effects were in fact recorded in Froese's own apartment. Although the sounds are a little too present, this suite is quite crystalline and pleasant. The two following tracks use sequencing. "Panorphelia" contrasts with its robotic soundscape. A ramshackle futuristic sequence with changing rhythm, with an intriguing mellotron melody. Avant-garde and enjoyable, this track is however a bit repetitive and does not justify its ten minutes length.

"NGC 891" is the best composition of the record (due to the presence of Christopher Franke with his Moog?). More typical of TANGERINE DREAM, hypnotic and pulsing, it may have been a draft for the title track of TD's "Phaedra". Maybe this was also the first sequenced track Christopher Franke recorded in a studio. With its water sound effects, "Upland" has an ambiance similar to the title track, the melody being played this time with an organ.

Although "Aqua" is not easily accessible and could have been shortened, this first solo effort by Edgar Froese is quite unique and possesses its own personality. Rather innovative at the time, this mixture of ambient, liquid and cold music differs from what other electronic bands were proposing at the same period, even TD.

If you enjoy TANGERINE DREAM mid-70's era, especially "Phaedra", or experimental 70's electronica, give this album a try. In 1974, a vast new ocean of possibilities remains unexplored...

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars There are three versions of this album, the Brain version, the Virgin version, and the Eastgate version. The latter is an abomination, Edgar Froese should never have partially rerecorded that adding on digital synths and drum machines. What was he on? This stuff is bound to haunt him beyond the grave. We can be thankful he didn't try and butcher the 1970s Tangerine Dream catalog the same way.

Aqua is his first solo album, but it certainly didn't harm Tangerine Dream in the least, as their best stuff was just around the corner. This one actually sounds more like a transition between the early "Pink Years" (Ohr label) Tangerine Dream and the Virgin Years. Many of the sounds effects are familiar as they were used on Phaedra, basically on the title track and "Upland", meaning you know it was Froese himself responsible for those sound effects. On this album he uses mainly VCS-3 and organ, but strangely he uses the Mellotron on only one cut. On "NGC 891" he gets his TD bandmate Christophe Franke on Moog to provided the sequencer. The title track features strange water sounds and very eerie droning organ, before ending like it came off Alpha Centauri or Zeit with those same eerie wind sounds. "Panorphelia" features pulsing VCS-3 synth sounds and Mellotron, but the Brain version starts off with strange whooshing sound effects not found on the Virgin version. "NGC 891" features an experiment using GŁnther Brunschen's artificial head system, basically microphones stuck in each ear of a dummy head (or mannequin head) to create this surround sound effect, as heard on the sounds of jets heard on this cut. The effect is best heard using headphones hearing them come from the left to right, although I can feel that effect on my regular stereo system without the headphones. You just have to sit between the speakers. "Upland" also starts off with strange sound effects on the Brain version that's different from the Virgin, before it goes on the more familiar bubbling VCS-3 synths sound effect. That strange reversed tinkling piano that ends the Virgin version is absent on the Brain version. It's only "Upland" and "Panorphelia" that differ from the Brain and Virgin versions as the title track and "NGC 891" are the same on both versions. I own both the Virgin and Brain versions so I can attest to this, and it's nice to own both versions because of that. I just acquired the Brain version after years of hearing how two of its cuts were of different mix. The other minor different was side one and two were switched. Regardless, this is a great and important album in Edgar Froese's career. Not only did it launch his solo career, but is a nice bridge between the old and new Tangerine Dream sound of that time, even though Aqua did come about four months after Phaedra. Very much an essential album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars One of the true original psychedelic trippers in the world of progressive musical expressions, EDGAR FROESE is a legend having formed Tangerine Dream back in 1967 and remaining the only continuous member of the long running act until his death in 2015. Originally born in Tilsit, East Prussia which became the Kaliningrad region of modern day Russia (the city of Sovetsk) in modern times, FROESE was born during the second world war and did what a lot of his generation of Germans did and that was namely escape the horror of it all through sound.

In addition to the vast wealth of recordings put out by Tangerine Dream (well over 100 studio albums), FROESE has also released several solo albums over the course of several decades beginning with this 1974 debut AQUA. Recorded simultaneously with Tangerine Dream's classic release "Phaedra," AQUA was created in Berlin throughout 1973 - 74 and was basically made in the hopes of earning enough revenue so that the parent band could invest in the newest and most sophisticated equipment. Having been launched into the limelight in the worlds of progressive rock and progressive electronic with Tangerine Dream's mass appeal, FROESE received an advancement and immediately went shopping.

Unsurprisingly AQUA engages in the same surreal vortex of swirling synthesizer sounds, layers of abstract atmospheres and engaged in the musical equivalent of a helium balloon finding itself liberated from the gravitation constraints of the Earth's clutches. The original album from June 1974 actually found two separate releases on different labels. Each release featured a different version of the album therefore the Brain Records edition released in Germany and the Virgin Records edition released in the rest of the world featured different track orders, two completely different mixes of "Panorphelia" and "Upland" and a cover album inversion with one basically being the 180 degree rotation of the other. It's safe to say though that these minor differences don't necessitate experiencing both versions as they are negligible.

If that wasn't enough the album was re-recorded and re-released in 2005 and there exists a French version titled "Aqua II" Oh, brother. The album is notable in that FROESE engaged in experiments with artificial stereo where two microphones were placed inside the ears of a dummy head and then was recorded in a manner in which a real human would hear the sounds. This supposedly improved the stereo effect and created a more realistic 3D sound but given the abstract nature of the progressive electronic realm, this excessive nerding out goes above the heads of common music lovers who aren't obsessed audiophiles searching for the holy grail of recording techniques. While considered a solo work, FROESE was joined by fellow Tangerine Dream member Chris Franke who plays moog on a few tracks.

As far as 70s progressive electronic in the Berlin School style are concerned, AQUA is a totally listenable and quite enjoyable edition to any electronica freak's overall collection but it really doesn't substantially deviate from the Tangerine Dream playbook which one would hope for considering this would be FROESE's opportunity to deviate from his main band's signature sound so i wouldn't call anything about AQUA utterly essential but it's certainly a worthy slice of prog electro to experience. It features the usual bumpy ride synthesized sequences that simulate percussion along with all the glissando note glides and wobbly sound effects that are associated with the Berlin School. It's vocal-free, drum-free and devoid of any instrumentation other than the electronic synthesized sounds. It's definitely worthy of a trip beyond the confines of rock music but is a rather generic representation of the greater prog electro continuum that even by 1974 had amassed an amazing array of diversity.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Every time I listen to this album I have a flashback of my discoveries. I put it on my headphone for the first time while I was reading Stanislaw Lem's Star Diaries. Until now I cannot if I descovered Aqua because od Star Diaries or Star Diaries because of Aqua. Anyway, this album is an esse ... (read more)

Report this review (#201208) | Posted by Patiquee | Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great solo album by one of the masters of electronic music! Aqua was for me, from the first audition, a journey to the endless aquatic cover of the Earth. All the four tracks stands for it. Aqua is, perhaps, an anthem to the water as we know in his liquid form. Whirlpools, swirling wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#170066) | Posted by Sachis | Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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