top of page
  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

TANGERINE DREAM: Underwater Sunlight (1986)

Underwater Sunlight is a great but unsung album built in the same patterns of White Eagle or Hyperborea

1 Song of the Whale, Part One: From Dawn... 8:23 2 Song of the Whale, Part Two: ...To Dusk 10:52 3 Dolphin Dance 5:07 4 Ride on the Ray 5:34 5 Scuba Scuba 4:26 6 Underwater Twilight 5:56 7 Dolphin Smile 4:57

Jive Electro ‎| CHIP40 Reactive/Esoteric EREACD 1020 (CD 45:15) (V.F.) (Melodic, New Berlin School)

Unlike a lot of Tangerine Dream fans, I quite like the years of Le Parc and UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT. Those was years of magic where the members of Tangerine Dream allied a ceaselessly increasing digital technology to catchy and lively musical structures. Short structures which showed that EM could be tamed in some other way that in long pieces of music which flirted more often with a controlled improvisation, when it wasn't in a total one, and with often unexpected outcomes. Did TD has combined the best of both artistic visions? The Keep, Flashpoint, Legend and Le Parc tend to show it. But this remains a debate that fed the fanaticism of the mythical German group fans. Except that years of Le Parc knew a real outcome with these digital equipments which supplanted the big bulwarks of Moog by equipments more compact of which capacities modified the bases of EM, especially the Berlin School style. It was the birth of New Berlin School with a more concise music that we could hum and which could be airing in FM radio. Jean Michel Jarre, with Rendezvous IVVangelis and his Antartica as well as Mike Oldfield with Discovery crossed the bar of the prejudices successfully. UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT as well as Le Parc (Did I told you that I loved this one?) possessed also this kind of music which was just as much lively and melodious and which was also stayed away and disregarded by a too vast majority of the most listened FM radio shows, except in Germany. But not matter! Completely written by Franke and Frœse, this 33rd album of Tangerine Dream marks the entrance of Paul Haslinger and was also the prelude to a wonderful world tour of which the peaks will be memorable concerts in France, from where will pop out the superb bootlegs; Relativity, Parisian Dreams and Sonambulistic Imagery. That was undoubtedly the last year of glory of Tangerine Dream… More than 25 years later; UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT is wearing a new skin thanks to the Esoteric Records label which offers it in a new mastered edition. A fresh new sound, not bad at all, and a very nice booklet and a bonus track in the very rare Dolphin Smile which was never on any official re-release of UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT. In fact, it wasn't on any official album of TD. Song of the Whale: From Dawn to Dusk brings back Tangerine Dream in the lap of albums such as White Eagle, or yet Hyperborea, with a long track which ate all the grooves of the A Face. It's a return to basics and a great track forgotten in this upheaval of the 80's which begins its harmonious trip with chords from an e-piano sparkling with vivacity, like the reflections of the sun on a crystalline and pure water struck by miles torments. A soft line of synth, which subdivides its breaths of foggy flute and its thin voices at both time sensual and seraphic, calms the frenzy of the circular chords which now sparkle in the background. Dreamy, Edgar's guitar frees a melancholic approach which comes to court its hybrid breaths, throwing a fascinated balm on a structure of which the furtive movement progresses like one climbs a spiral staircase and of which the door opens on of intensive rotations of percussions and a din of orchestral arrangements. And Part One: From Dawn to become cruelly heavier with powerful riffs and short poignant solos which tear the horizon of a bolero in crescendo, increasing highly like a sexual intercourse on the edge of an orgasm that will never come. Intense and moving, Part One: From Dawn bursts in our soul with a stunning melancholic heaviness which explodes for a short period of 4 minutes. Four minutes that will mark for ever your musical memories of the Dream where the guitar howls, but howls... It's an intense passage which ends its route in a schizophrenic zone where any forms of voices and whispers are likely of being misunderstandings. Part Two: ... To Dusk spreads it wings with tenderness on Paul Haslinger's great piano. Pensive and nostalgic this piano loses its melody in electronic mists and drizzle, kissing at the passage an approach which breathes the ambiences of Legend before being merge in sequences which swirl as an endless staircase. Gradually the rhythm catches at passage the delicate riffs of Edgar's acoustic guitar and becomes more lively with a beautiful melodious approach where sober percussions direct it towards an always more edgy tempo. There where are waiting crystal clear sequences to interlaced lines, steady riffs, echoing and hammering percussions as well as an electric guitar always so vicious which quietly drops its last breaths in a finale which refuses to die and which finally dies in a fog as much morphic than schemer. And so ends one of the last great classics of Tangerine Dream. Awesome!

The 2nd phase of UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT shines from the harmonies and tearings of Part One: From Dawn, in particular on Dolphin Dance and its circular rhythm where a stubborn line of bass, some light riffs of guitar and sober percussions support the fine solos of the harmonious synth. The electric guitar escapes from it and fills this short structure of beautiful, short but very melodious solos which exchange its harmonies with those of a lyrical synth on a structure which escapes its loud riffs and its tense moments. Ride on the Ray starts its melodic structure with hesitation where glass arpeggios and notes of guitar harmonize their tones in the dark ambiences of a synth and of its lines of foggy and its thin absent voices. Little by little the rhythm gets forge. Catchy and melodious, it pulsates of its symmetric knocks in order of becoming allied to a meshing of percussions to the unreal electronic tones and to pulsations of an anonymous bass line which fidgets with a constant growth to finally embrace an electronic ride of a solitary cowboy. The structure is as exhilarating than improbable with this artificial rhythm which grows heavy under the catchy riffs of an acoustic guitar which exchanges its melody livened up of freedom for solos as much dreamy as furious. Short but really effective. Scuba Scuba follows and honors the new equipments of the Dream with an indefinable rhythm where percussions and pulsations intertwine their heterogeneous tones in a stationary rhythmic pond which lets itself be charm by a synth with breezes of mists and crystallizing harmonies. is splendid with its vaporous lines and its breaths of spectral voices which float in an ambience of ether. One would say a thing escaped out of Legend which puts itself in rhythm mode with a fauna of percussions of which the asymmetric strikings manage to forge a homogeneous rhythm which is shaken by quavering cramps. The ethereal moods of Song of the Whale: From Dawn to Dusk embalm this rhythm of which the structures of the percussions leave room to a delicate piano which pours its undulatory lines into some fine orchestral arrangements, ending so the last one of the great albums from Tangerine Dream. Is this last edition from Esoteric Records be worth its cost? I found a better definition and resolution in the sound but is this enough?  Except that this new remastered edition comes with a very rare track; Dolphin Smile which is very much alike to all that we find in UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT. The rhythm is delicate, even if harpooned by a contradictory heaviness, while that the keyboards, and their arpeggios of glass, and the synths spit a magical melodious approach which rings and hums of its twinkling harmonies on a bass line to throbbing chords and on this perpetual bed of percussions and pulsations which forge the indefinable and imperceptible rhythms of UNDERWATER SUNLIGHT. A jewel in more on a crown already well filled and well adorned.

Sylvain Lupari (December 23rd, 2010) *****

1,879 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page