[Review] Tangerine Dream: Underwater Sunlight (1986)

Tangerine Dream’s contribution to the new age of aquarium with new recruit Paul Haslinger heralds a dreamier sounding Dream.

Kronomyth 21.0: Swimphony.

Without missing an electronic beat, Edgar Froese and Chris Franke replaced Johannes Schmoelling with Paul Haslinger and returned to the path of the compact, lyrical Le Parc for an album of aquatic-themed instrumentals. The side-long “Song of the Whale” (and, yes, there are more cringeworthy titles coming) initially sounds like the work of Alan Parsons Project, which is to say Pink Floyd Lite. Unlike recent albums, which had become more rhythmically informed, Underwater Sunlight is an amorphous album. In Tangerine Dream’s waterworld, songs drift in and out, heavy sequencer patterns are supplanted by shimmering sounds and melodies abound.

Those whose tastes turn toward the light side of electronica (APP et al) may view Underwater Sunlight as one of the band’s brightest efforts to date. The dark sonic riders among us may likewise be less enamored of TD’s softening musical stance. Haslinger’s tenure with the group did mark a shift toward more melodic and accessible music, although the band was already moving in that direction with Le Parc. I’ve defended this album in the past, but this morning I’m more inclined to tell you to follow a different Dream.

If you’re interested in the Haslinger Years, pick up Optical Race and then set your sights on something else. The second half of the 80s marked a new age, and I miss the dark ages. Over the years, “Song of the Whale,” “Dolphin Dance” (I warned you, didn’t I?) and “Underwater Twilight” have been admitted into the “best” of Tangerine Dream on various occasions, but honestly what Tangerine Dream song hasn’t appeared on a compilation at some point or another? If you found the earlier albums too difficult, then by all means dive into Underwater Sunlight. You’ll forgive me if I don’t go in the water with you, having recently feasted on heavier fare.

Original LP Version

A1. Song of the Whale
Part One: From Dawn… (8:25)
Part Two: To Dusk… (11:00)
B1. Dolphin Dance (5:05)
B2. Ride On The Ray (5:30)
B3. Scuba Scuba (4:30)
B4. Underwater Twilight

CD reissue bonus track
7. Dolphin Dance (12” version)

Composed by Chris Franke, Edgar Froese and Paul Haslinger.

The Players

Chris Franke, Edgar Froese, Paul Haslinger with Christian Gstettner (computer programming). Produced by Franke, Froese and Haslinger.

The Pictures

Cover photography by Monique Froese.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc in July 1986 in Germany (Jive Electro, 6.26377), the UK and Canada (Jive Electro, HIP/CHIP 80), the US (Relativity, EMC/EMCT/EMCD 8113), the Netherlands (Jive Electro, 65608); reached #97 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1996 in the UK (Essential, ESMCD 366) and the US (Sequel, 1046-2).
  2. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on March 21, 2000 in the US (Castle Music America, 579).
  3. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on March 24, 2003 in the EEC and Australia (Sanctuary, CMRCD-654).
  4. Re-released on expanded remastered compact disc in 2011 in the UK (Esoteric) with one bonus track.

1 thought on “[Review] Tangerine Dream: Underwater Sunlight (1986)

  1. I actually really enjoy this album. Zeit it is not, but then, what is ?

    Good review.

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