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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RALF WADEPHUL: When Aliens Meet a Drop of Water (2008)

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

It's a nice surprise which surfs on the recollections of Optical Race and navigates between rock, prog and symphonic EM

1 To Earth? Why Not! 1:00

2 Cosmic Cruiser 3:46

3 1st Sunlight 4:43

4 Endless Blue 5:58

5 Into the Thunder 5:27

6 Suffering Sharks 7:09

7 Neptun's Cave 10:53

8 Paradise Island 5:29

9 Praying for Rain 5:14

10 Dancing with the Clouds 4:54

11 Melancholy of Nature 5:09

12 Sunset Raga 3:01

13 Going Home 4:34

Manikin MRCD 7087

(CD 67:17) (V.F.)

(Electronic Rock, TD's tones of the 90's)

Tangerine Dream's Melrose years weren't my favorites at all. I quite liked a part of Optical Race, but I downright dropped out with Lily on the Beach. What is the link with Ralf Wadephul? Well it's him who has replaced Chris Franke during the making of Optical Race and the American tour which follows at the early autumn of 1988. It's from that era that lies half of the tracks of this first album in solo from the lightning visit in the multiple faces of Tangerine Dream. Released on Manikin in 2008 WHEN ALIENS MEET A DROP OF WATER stands on two parts. The first one consists of 8 new compositions, while the second part is an answer to TD's Blue Dawn where Edgar Froese had rearranged 8 compositions that he wrote in 1988 when he was touring with Edgar and Paul Haslinger. On his Web site, he explains that the way Edgar Froese had worked his compositions didn't reflected his vision. It's thus with apprehension, and after having received Ich Bin Ein Berliner, that I began the analysis of this album and frankly I was pleasantly surprised. Ralf Wadephul dilutes skillfully an EM which inhales the rhythmic warheads of Optical Race, but with a more intense and more audacious musical envelope where the big electronic rock, casted in heavy and sharp-edged riffs as well as in hammered percussions and sequences at knocks of thousand rhythmic jumps, is transporting melodies dipped into intense film approaches. I got to say that it's a good discovery where Ralf surfs, without hiding it, on the recollections of OR and navigates between rock, prog and symphonic EM.

Cosmic Cruiser seizes of the anemic breath of To Earth? Why Not! to offer the first similarities with Optical Race. It's a well balanced electronic rock which makes grimace. Even if the solos are sharp, the rhythm remains fragile and is very near of the Dream hairpieces of the Melrose years. It's with 1st Sunlight that Ralf Wadephul spreads his trap of musical attraction. Yet the melody is simplistic; a beautiful line of arpeggios pearled of fluty breaths waddles as an innocent lullaby, drawing an earworm which camps for a while in our brain. Whereas the melody bewitches time, the rhythmic structure lays down a more and more marked progression before falling towards a beautiful ballad abundantly watered by guitar solos. By the way, who plays guitar on WHEN ALIENS MEET A DROP OF WATER? It's an unknown guest and he plays quite well. After this beautiful and very innocent pearl, Endless Blue crosses the waves which roll constantly on background to offer a very Dreamish structure with a sax à la Linda Spa which wraps of its suave breezes another melodious pattern which ends with a more solid rhythmic where are bickering in duel a sax and a guitar. Into the Thunder follows with a big heavy electronic rock. The rhythm is curt, jerky and follows the strikings of percussions which unite their knocks with sequences strummed with confidence. Orchestral pads dismount the twisted solos of synth which run on a steady rhythm while that Into the Thunder increases its strength and its swiftness to offer a livelier pace where organ pads, synth solos, explosions of percussions and heavy riffs of guitar and of its acuteness solos plunge the track in the middle of a symphonic and progressive electronic rock. Suffering Sharks tempers the heats with its approach of lunar lullaby which coos in a bath of cybernetic sound effects. One would say an electromagnetic storm when some fine arpeggios ring like in those messages of the old submarines on a line of sequence to the undulatory charms. The melody is offered by a synth to the drawling and wandering lines. A synth which releases airs of déjà vu while the track takes a film bend, allying an unbridled rhythm which gallops like a solitary rider on the plains of Pluto. The synth is very harmonious with a tone closer of progressive rock, we think of Pink Floyd and One of these Days, than of the purely electronic. It's a very good track with a tempo in constant progression which is dying of its Babylonian approach.

These rhythms and melodies in perpetual movement are the strength of this Ralf Wadephul's first album and Neptun's Cave is eaten from the inside throughout its 11 minutes. It's a very good track with a melodious portion which seems to be taking out of the Optical Race sessions with an acoustic guitar, or sort of, which seems to have inspired one or two tracks on Lily on the Beach. The synth is suave. It forges a beautiful melody which breathes the joy of life. The rhythm is soft, just like the ballads that the Dream used to make at this time. So, this delicate melody falls in a nothingness of lost tones and chords to fan itself on a meshing of pulsations and percussions which moulds a static rhythm that a synth waters with soft solos flying in a strange spectral envelope. And gradually, Neptun's Cave dives into a big e-rock where pads in tones of organs and heavy orchestrations hold a harmonious approach which is flooded in a torrent of intensity and decibels. And the reborn of this Dantesque oblivion to whisper us this enchanting tune which has difficulty to leave our eardrums. This is a great track that your brain will recall days later. Paradise Island is another beautiful e-ballad supported by a beautiful play of percussions and by some lively riffs from an acoustic guitar. The rhythm remains steady and throws in our ears their fine melodic variances which are caressed by a synth sometimes serene and sometimes belligerent with very good solos in the shapes of guitar and quirky tones which go against the harmonious structure. Praying for Rain presents a structure strongly livened up by crazy sequences which climb and go down on a dislocated skeleton. The structure of the rhythm reminds me a little of Cat Scan, but the melody is almost non-existent. Explosions of percussions remind us the genesis of the track’s naming while that the ghostly synth gets lost in a structure which increases ceaselessly its intensity, but not its shape, to end in a totally unexpected philharmonic envelope. Heavy and lively, Dancing with the Clouds is a nice ballad decorated by crystalline ringings and by beautiful solos of guitar which would copulated very well with Paradise Island, while that Natural Melancholy would have copulated rather well with Cosmic Cruiser. Sunset Raga is what is the most ambiospheric on WHEN ALIENS MEET A DROP OF WATER with a furtive approach which would complete a trilogy of harmonies with a cosmic tendency undertaken by Paradise Island, whereas Going Home is an excellent ending which gleans here and there the ambiences, the heavy rhythms, the piercing guitar solos and the melodious approaches of this interesting find that is WHEN ALIENS MEET A DROP OF WATER; an inescapable if we are a big fan of Optical Race and those who, like me, were fussy about this work rich in musicality from Ralf Wadephul.

Sylvain Lupari (April 28th, 2013) ***¾**

Available at Groove NL

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