Long before Underwater Sunlight reached our ears, Edgar Froese went on an aquatic excursion of his own, the first of several ‘70s solo albums from the primary brain behind Tangerine Dream. Aqua is as much sound as music, designed (with the benefit of an “artificial head system” developed by Gunther Brunschen) to be experienced on headphones. In such a setting (which I haven’t tried since the days of the Stax electrostatic ear speakers), it’s easy to imagine the listener fully immersed in Froese’s waterworld. If electronic meditation is your bag and Klaus Schulze your green grocer, Aqua might be what you’re thirsting after. What occurs here are soundscapes and linear journeys that suggest Tangerine Dream on a more intimate scale. Rather than three voices telling you what to watch out the window, there’s only Froese’s voice (although Chris Franke does add moog sounds on the tunneling “NGC 891”). The result may strike some as unambitious, creating individual worlds of sound rather than Phaedra’s universe. At least that’s how I felt when I used to hear this. Cluster’s “Grosses Wasser” seemed the grander water portrait, Peter Baumann’s Romance ’76 the louder declaration of independence. But Aqua didn’t need to make a big statement; after all, Froese had Tangerine Dream for that. Instead, the composer explores some avenues he might have entertained along the way, from an electronic interpretation of nature (“Aqua”) to experiments in King Crimson’s contained energy (“Panorphelia”). Phaedra and Rubycon are the better albums, but Aqua could otherwise be seen as an introspective cousin to those works. If their later albums (White Eagle et cetera) didn’t float your boat, a return to Aqua may be in order. Also recommended to anyone who was tickled pink over Meddle’s “Echoes.”
Original LP Version
A1. Aqua (16:58)
A2. Panorphelia (9:38)
B1. NGC 891 (14:50)
B2. Upland (6:31)
All songs written by Edgar Froese.
Edgar Froese (instruments) with Chris Franke (Moog sounds on B1). Artificial head system by Gunther Brunschen. Produced by Edgar Froese.
Cover design and photography by Monique Froese.
Released on elpee in 1974 in Germany (Brain, 1053), the UK (Virgin, V2016), the US (Virgin, VR 13-111), Australia (Virgin, L 35427) and Japan (Virgin, YX-7015-VR) with gatefold cover. Re-issued on elpee in 1984 in the UK (Virgin, OVED20) with gatefold cover. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in the Netherlands (Virgin, 87214), in the UK (Virgin, CDV 2016), and in the US (Caroline, CAROL 1624). Re-released on 3CD in October 1994 (Caroline, CAROL1763) with Klaus Schulze’s Blackout and Timewind.