After listening to Underwater Sunlight for the first time I felt completely in love with this album by the German electronic pioneers of Tangerine Dream. In my opinion Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and newcomer Paul Haslinger recorded a true masterpiece here. Everything just falls in place on this album, originally released in 1986. It probably features the most progressive rock elements of all the albums I've ever heard from them! Underwater Sunlight marks the appearance of Paul Haslinger with TD who just had replaced Johannes Schmoelling. I'm not sure whether this line-up change had something to do with the fact that this is a very enjoyable album for lovers of prog rock music. Maybe it's just a coincidence. When I read that the album would be reissued, I was a bit surprised because I don't consider this album to be difficult to get hold of. But after listening to the new version I understood that it was a wise decision to pay attention to it again. It even sounds better than the original release; the bonus track and the fantastic booklet complete the picture.
I think Underwater Sunlight starts with its highlight. Provided that you're a prog rock lover, it's difficult to deny that Song Of The Whale is an outstanding piece of music. It is divided into two parts; the first part From Dawn... starts in a very low-key fashion. However, the sampled female voices are just breathtaking. Then it gradually builds up to an unbelievable climax with an excellent guitar solo by Edgar Froese. The second part ...To Dusk starts with fantastic playing on the grand piano which reveals the classical background of Paul Haslinger. This part builds up to an awesome musical climax as well with uplifting drum beats, fine synthesizer solos and electric guitar outbursts. Dolphin Dance, Ride On The Ray and Scuba Scuba are more up-tempo pieces containing excellent rhythm sequences and great solo spots on the guitar and the synthesizers. On the final track Underwater Twilight TD returns to an ambient way of playing, but it's still a real treat to listen to. The bonus track Dolphin Smile was once released as a 12-inch single; it's a happy up-tempo tune that fits perfectly on this release.
For me, this album was a surprising new introduction to the electronic music of TD. Over the years I lost interest in the band, because their compositions contained too little elements that could satisfy my hunger for good progressive rock music. Since I got a copy of Underwater Sunlight, I started to follow them again looking for more masterpieces which they almost made with albums as Optical Race, Lily On The Beach and Melrose. These are all amazing albums that are worthwhile to check out for lovers of keyboard-oriented prog with from time to time very melodic guitar parts. I think this awesome album by Tangerine Dream only deserves the highest possible rating of five stars. It's highly recommended not only for addicts of electronic music, but for other prog rock devotees as well. Please check this one out!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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