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[ Underwater Pilots - Tranquil Places ]
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[ Unwoman - Blossoms ]
Tranquil Places - Review

This german duo includes Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli combining their nice mix of electro-pop and trance styles to create their own unique sound. This album was originally released in 2004 in germany and was picked up by Van Richter for their US release in 2008. This disc includes eleven smooth electronic tracks plus a couple of remixes.

It kicks off in style with the solid dance-friendly piece "Loud and Clear". This has easily become a favorite of mine from the first time I listened to the album. It has some excellent electronics and a moving beat that keeps the body moving on the dance floor, all mixed with some solid, melodic vocals. We're graced with more trance styles as the album moves on with "Welcome to the World" and the spoken word verses and sung chorus. There are more dance-friendly pieces that electro-pop fans should enjoy like "I Will Fly". This is another favorite with these electro-pop elements that bring various styles to mind from 80's synthpop, trance and new wave for a nice mix. Later on we do have a hard-hitting trance piece "Survive" that still mixes in a bit of electro-pop and minimal melodic vocals for a nice accessible piece which keeps the music flowing and moving.

For the average fan, these first few pieces mentioned will probably be the highlights for this album. However, I think it's worth mentioning some of the trance-laiden ambient pieces as well as a few other treats. After the first couple of moving tracks, "I Prepare" brings out some haunting, ambient sounds for something a bit different than expected. This smoothly flows into the downtempo vocal piece "Leaving Home" which even with the slow pace, still has some subtle ambient trance elements swooshing through the background. As the album moves along, towards the end we hit a few more of these dreamier pieces that though they wander a bit here and there are still quite enjoyable depending on the listener's personal tastes, but makes for a nice variety. The only drawback with some of these styles is when the heavy breakbeats kick in, or over-the-top electronic tweaks and twists such as are present on "My Darkness", but luckily it's more of the exception than the norm on this disc.

Before finalizing this review, there are a couple of stellar pieces that need to be mentioned. First is the fun electro-clash piece "Ice Cream" with the analog synths, various vocal samples about ice cream and just a fun and catchy groove. And finally, the "Tranquil Remix" of "Loud and Clear" is excellent. They took this driving electro-pop piece and converted into a rock anthem with heavy guitars and crashing cymbals through the intro and chorus arrangements. I was already extremely impressed with the original version, but this remix just blew me away when I heard it, very well done and a nice way to wrap up the album, just skip the "Mimetic Mix" of "Welcome to the World" and end on a positive note.

Rating: 4/5


Website: www.underwater-pilots.com
Label: Van Richter Records

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