Tangerine Dream - 1986 Underwater Sunlight

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Tangerine Dream
ALBUM: Underwater Sunlight
LABEL: Jive Teldec
SERIAL: 6.26377 AP (LP), 8.26377 ZP (CD)
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1996, Esssential/Castle, ESMCD366 * 2011, Reactive (Esoteric), EREACD 1020


LINEUP: Christopher Franke - synthesizer, electronic percussion * Edgar Froese - synthesizer, guitar * Paul Haslinger - synthesizer, grand piano, guitar * Christian Gstettner - computer programming

TRACK LISTING: 01 Song Of The Whale Part One - From Dawn * 02 Song Of The Whale Part Two - To Dusk * 03 Dolphin Dance * 04 Ride On The Ray * 05 Scuba Scuba * 06 Underwater Twilight


Eric's recent review of Gentlemen Without Weapons prompted me to revisit one of my favourite Tangerine Dream albums: '1986's 'Underwater Sunlight'.

A quite beautiful album, it marked the beginning of a prosperous period for TD, with new boy in tow, Paul Haslinger, who unusual as it seemed, came from quite a different background, being the Vienna jazz club scene.

Paul's background was as a jazz pianist, and it seemed at odds being the replacement for Johannes Schmoelling.

However, Edgar Froese and Chris Franke perservered, and after a UK tour in early 1986, the three ventured back to TD's Berlin base (Dream Studios), unleashing 'Underwater Sunlight' within 3 months.

Eventually released in July 1986, the album remains a popular draw within the TD back catalogue.

The Songs

6 tracks, and all make for a dreamy listening experience, best done with the lights out, incense or candles burning, and an alcoholic beverage or strong coffee in one hand.

The first track is 'Song Of The Whale, Part One: From Dawn', which features an explosion of electronic percussive effects, that also provides the backbone motif.

Midsong exploration is made with some breathy synth parts and electric guitar bursts. Gradually it picks up a head of steam and delivers just what the doctor (or in this case, prog-head) ordered!

The second part 'Song Of The Whale, Part Two: To Dusk' is just exquisite stuff. It remains one of my most treasured TD songs in their extensive collection. The lilting grand piano cascade builds up to a rolling synth sequencer pattern with booming drum machines, vocal effects and then finishing off with some Pink Floyd like guitar soloing that even Dave Gilmour would be clapping hands to.

Third track 'Dolphin Dance' is an upbeat and surging exercise in melodic electronica. Topped with some lovely guitar lines, it really ventures into the commercial realm with simplistic ease, though ironically did not make it as a single.

'Ride On The Ray' is purely cinematic quality, great for a soundtrack which TD were pretty good at, it must be said.

'Scuba Scuba' is another track of cinematic quality, the deep blue an obvious choice for this aquasonic selection.

The sixth and final track is the lush 'Underwater Twilight', which will have you drifting on the currents of melodia, and travelling effortlessly across the blue divide.

In Summary

Such was the appeal of this album, TD had to toggle between their own works and soundtrack projects they were committed to during this period.

There were many albums released between 1986 and 1989, it's a wonder they managed to keep track of it all.

Still, some good music was released during this period, and I have most of them. 1988's 'Optical Race; was another good album, so too the soundtrack to the apocalyptic zombie movie 'Near Dark'.

Paul Haslinger hung about right to the end of the decade, but really there is so much more to the overall TD discography, it would take years to cherry pick it all.

In 2011, the Esoteric offshoot label Reactive would reissue 'Underwater Sunlight', with an extra track 'Dolphin Smile', a remastered edition plus liner notes from the erstwhile Malcolm Dome. Excellent stuff!

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