Underwater Pilots: Tranquil Places Reviews

The German synth duo operates since the year 2002. Now Grégoire Vanoli and Manuel G. Richter offer us their debut. Groovy and smooth, that's what comes to my mind right after listening to this record. Underwater Pilots offer an electronic field where we find different style spots. We're confronted with dancy tunes ("Survive"), midtempo synthpop tracks with modern sounds and beats plus melancholic, beautiful melodies ("Loud And Clear"), trippy ballads with Depeche Mode fragrance ("Leaving Home"), instrumental pieces with soundtrack attitude ("I Prepare"), drum'n'bass rhythms ("My Darkness") and deep 80's references (Visage, Trans X) like within "Ice Cream", including robot vocals. On the other tracks the vocals appear quite pleasantly and softly, it suits to the music. It's a record that doesn't hurt your ears any time, but I'd sometimes wish they'd be a bit more fiery, their songs are just a bit too nice and unruffled to be exciting or something special. But summarized can be said, they manufactured a good appetizer with their first CD. - Breda, Virus Magazine


Am 15.11.`04 hat ein interessanter Newcomer sein Debütalbum veröffentlicht: Underwater Pilots mit "Tranquil Places". Manuel G. Richter und Grégoire Vanoli, beide eigentlich mit fundierter klassischen Ausbildung, wagen sich als 2- Mann- Band in die mitunter subtilen Klangwelten des Electros vor. Dabei dürften sie sowohl den Geschmack von so manchem Popper als auch EBM- Freaks treffen, zaubert man doch so manchen tanzbaren und Clubhit verdächtigen Song. So legt der Opener "Loud and Clear" kraftvoll mit mitreißenden Bässen vor, ums sich bis zu"Welcome to the World" kontinuirlich zu steigern! Sphärische Synthie- Klänge bieten ein absolutes Dolby- Surround- Erlebnis, so dass es dem Hörer schwer ans Herz zu legen ist, den Song auch einmal mit Kopfhörern zu erleben! Auch die durchaus eingängigen Hooklines dieser beiden Lieder machen sie zu einem Muss für Electro- Fans und werden sicherlich auch in diversen Clubs Gefallen finden! Das nachgeschobene Instrumental "I prepare" dagegen wirkt leider genauso streckend wie "Flood" und somit wie Lückenbüßer, die andererseits für so manchen Hörer auch wiederum auflockernd wirken mögen."So Safe" glänzt sogar durch kurze, aber recht harte Gitarrenriffs des Gastgitarristen Daniel Meseke. Das ganze Album gestaltet sich somit recht abwechslungsreich, wobei ganz besonders das durchgeknallte "Ice Cream" ins Ohr sticht! Im Gegensatz zu den tiefen und sphärischen Songs wie zum Beispiel auch "Leaving Home", driftet man hier schon arg in Future Pop ab, mit – für eingefleischte EBM-Fans – arg gewöhnungsbedürftigem Text! Dieser Titel ist wohl mehr als die kleine Fun- Einlage zu werten! Textlich beschäftigt man sich hauptsächlich mit den Abgründen des menschlichen Seins, was verbal düster und ernüchternd, musikalisch jedoch teilweise melancholisch anmutet! Sehr ans Herz – oder besser: Gehör – zu legen ist die etwas eigentümliche und sehr charismatische Stimme des Sängers Manuel G. Richter! Hier ist definitiv ein großer Wiedererkennungseffekt vorprogrammiert! 48 Minuten ist das Erstlingswerk der Underwater Pilots lang, mitunter äußerst durchwachsen und abwechslungsreich. Dennoch wie bereits erwähnt für Electro- Fans richtiggehend ein Muss! Gerade mit Songs wie "Welcome to the World" beweist man so einiges an Potential, was auf zukünftige Alben gespannt sein lässt!? - Morigan, Wave-of-darkness.de
UNDERWATER PILOTS?Tranquil Places??bereits erschienen ??Der Name dieser Band kommt wahrlich nicht von ungefähr. Das deutsche Duo führt den Hörer in die tieferen Bereiche der elektronischen Musik. Hier wird fernab von jeglichen Plattitüden und Klischees Musik gemacht. Das Ergebnis lässt sich nicht mit einem Wort beschreiben. Um einen ungefähren Eindruck zu bekommen, kann man sie noch am ehesten mit Seabound vergleichen. Denn wie die Senkrechtstarter auch, nehmen die Piloten nicht Kurs auf die Clubs, sondern auf die menschliche Schaltzentrale. Nur ab und zu zuckt des Bein wie bei I will Fly oder Ice Cream. Aber selbst hier überwiegen eigentlich die ruhigen und breiten Synthieflächen, die den Hörer in einen Zustand der Schwerelosigkeit versetzen. Besonders gelungen ist dies bei dem kurzen I Prepare. Abgerundet wird das Album mit My Darkness und seinen markanten Breakbeats. Underwater Pilots ist für das neue Jahr ein viel versprechender Act im Bereich des Intelligent Electro und Garant für großes Kopfkino. (9 Punkte) - Daniel Dreßler, Orkus Magazine
Underwater Pilots are Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli. They are a german band creating electronic pop music with subtile darkness, melodic hooklines and dancable beats. Mostly they are located in the area of dark-electro and the future-pop-scene. Their debut album ''Tranquil Places'' is best described as catchy electro / future pop with strong influences from Depeche Mode's ''Violator'' period, ''Tranquil Places'' contains a number of potential club-hits, such as the amazing ''Icecream'' or the track ''Loud And Clear'' ( from the ''Advanced Electronics Vol. 3'' compilation ). A great debut for all fans of quality electro. - Amazon.com
Underwater Pilots are the most recent signing on Van Richter Records who present their debut album ''Tranquil Places''. Best described as catchy electro / future pop with strong influences from Depeche Mode's ''Violator'' period, ''Tranquil Places'' contains a number of potential club-hits, such as the amazing ''Icecream'' or the track ''Loud And Clear'' ( from the ''Advanced Electronics Vol. 3'' compilation ). A great debut for all fans of quality electro. - Metropolis Records
Underwater Pilots have been making music since 2002 and features the talents of Gregoire Vanoli and Manuel G. Richter. Greg and Manuel both have a classical music background but felt the pull of electronic music more and so decided to pursue that instead. When it comes to reviews I receive many CD's here at Ambient Visions and not all of them happen to be new in regards to their release dates but I consider "new" to be something that I hadn't heard before and this CD falls into that category.
Tranquil Places was originally released in 2004 but has only recently found its way into the PO Box of Ambient Visions. I have been expanding the styles of music that I feature on AV to include other genres that many of the readers of AV will find of interest. Besides there are many times that genre labels will keep someone from hearing music that would otherwise be of great interest. This release by the Underwater Pilots is a stretch again as it features extensive vocals but also might be of interest to those who are into trance and dance releases since it features a few songs that have a beat that would easily do the label of techno proud.
Survive which is track 9 on this CD comes to mind when I want to give an example of the driving rhythm that the Underwater Pilots can deliver when they are at their most agressive. Follow that with So Safe at track 10 and you have a couple of songs that really allow the listerner to immerse themselves in the sound that Greg and Manuel have created. I'm not sure if it was purposeful or not but there is an uncanny musical resemblance to Depeche Mode on many of these songs. I don't say this in a negative way because they do justice to the sound that I remember as Depeche Mode that they turned out in their early days with songs like Strangelove and Behind the Wheel or Policy of Truth. In fact their use of electronics and rhythms coupled with the strong vocals that permeate Tranquil Places actually improve on the Depeche Mode sound and give it an Underwater Pilots sensibility which is a good thing.
Tranquil Places is an impressive blend of the beat and rhythm of electronic/techno music with vocals that skillfully evoke what I liked best about the 80's and the music that was created during that time period. If you really want to get the full effect of what I am referring to check out the song called Leaving Home which is track 4 on this CD and you will be transported into a very familiar soundscape but at the same time be exploring all new ground. While not all of the songs on this CD will find a home on the dance floor they are gems nonetheless. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort went into creating this music, recording it and then mixing it down into this final product that makes for a pleasing package overall. While the music certainly reflects times gone by in a few places it is certainly not imitative or derivative as I feel that the music is more than able to stand on its own merits both musically and lyrically. It is obvious that Greg and Manuel know their stuff when it comes to creating electronic sounds and certainly know a catchy hook when they hear one.
All in all I would say that Tranquil Places is certainly a CD that should be in your collection if you have any interest in the aforementioned Depeche Mode or if you are just a person who appreciates a group of edgy songs that offers the listener a rhythmic pulsing adventure. AV recommended CD. - Michael Foster, Editor Ambient Visions
The German project formed by Grégoire Vanoli and Manuel G. Richter, duo who is dedicated to electronic music under the charming name of Underwater Pilots, is at the debut. The name has been chosen correctly, and it's representative of the perfect feeling they communicate, which turns into liquid, flowing, hypnotic songs. Also the title baptizing their debut and the artwork are in line with their electronic sound, so full of loops and samples, but also charming in its pop edges and with also some post-industrial guitar touches. Well, what they offer is all but monolithic, though given with a huge quantity of coherence. But it's not a banally commercial musical offer, since the background anguish (warning, there's a crocodile baby on the cover artwork!) allows the album to assume some deep and persuading dark shades. If we should find a term of comparison, to make a compliment, and to arouse the curiosity of the fans, we can make the name of Depeche Mode. In particular those of "Some Great Reward". - Dario Adile, Silent Scream Magazine
A bit reminiscent of early Depeche Mode (when Depeche Mode was good), Underwater Pilots is synthpop and trance rich in depth and texture. Theirs is a genuine talent clearly devout to making music for the sake of making good music, a rarity in the current climate of most genres of electronic music. Speaking of genres, Underwater Pilots crosses many. Truly a diverse artist, meshing eras and subgenres. atmospheric. thought-provoking. ("Flood" being my personal favorite track.) - D.J. Michele Sainte
Germany's Underwater Pilots make some fairly accessible synth-pop industrial akin to And One, De/Vision, with a little Spock or Covenant thrown in. Don't know them? It involves a some intelligible English vocals and some beats that are not too crazy fast. Although lumped in with the industrial crowd, Underwater Pilots don't have the crazy metal guitars or harsh vocals a la Ministry or heavy trance beats. This is a bit of a departure from Van Richter's usual aggro acts, an expansion maybe? This easier to find, domestic release adds 2 new mixes and new art from the older Euro release on Funker Vogt's Repo Records. It shouldn't cost stupid money any more either! I'd describe it as pop music without guitars or unbearable MTV dance beats. The production is also top-notch. - Tsanger Banger, Temple of Horror Zine
First released several years ago and now available in North America through Van Richter Records, this album delivers completely modern synthpop with a few nods towards techno and trance. Think of classic Apoptygma Berzerk or especially Covenant, then dial down some of the melancholy gothic posing, and you get the idea. "Loud and Clear" starts things with a hint of distortion but then segues into a melodic trance-inspired pop number that isn't afraid to be pretty. "Welcome to the World" is more minimalist and spaced out, the vocals spoken over an understated warble before kicking into a gorgeous hook on the chorus, and "Survive" is a perfectly paced dance floor number full of intense vocals and slick, cutting trance sequences. Though there's nothing dated about what Underwater Pilots do, they're definitely influenced by the classics, and they do occasionally let that show, as on the electro-flavored "I Will Fly," but things tend not to work out so well when the band goes too far into deliberate retro territory. This album's only real sour spot is "Ice Cream," an old-school breakbeat number full of cheesy vocoder effects that not only doesn't fit in with the rest of the album, but doesn't really have much going for it on its own, either, except for a sense of nostalgia. Much better are the forays into more modern electronic territory, as on the cold experimental synthesizers of "Why Can't It Be Simple," which, when paired with rather melancholy vocals, is like nothing so much as Some Great Reward-era Depeche Mode with Aphex Twin's Richard D. James standing in for Alan Wilder. Likewise, "My Darkness" sets world-weary vocals to a moody drum 'n' bass rhythm and rich analog choral synths for a track that combines the best of synthpop ballads and modern rhythm programming. Also hinting at the band's more experimental side is a bonus remix from avant-garde French project Mimetic that turns "Welcome to the World" from pulsing synthpop to choppy breakbeats. Also showing up are Italian gothic/industrial rockers Dope Stars, Inc., who provide a mix of "Loud and Clear" that's unexpectedly upbeat and cheery, even bringing in a guitar solo that, though reminiscent of '80s-era heavy metal, is nonetheless infectious. Catchy enough to be immediately accessible while bringing in just enough experimentation to keep things fresh, this album sees Underwater Pilots hitting that perfect sweet spot between club candy and innovation. - Matthew J., Grave Concerns Ezine
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. - Jacob Bogedahl, GothicParadise Ezine
Tranquil Places is the debut release for the German duo of Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli, released in Europe in 2004, but now available in the U.S. on Van Richter Records. For being four years old, this is a quality synthpop release, with a few other musical influences to add some pizazz.The album starts out with its two strongest tracks, "Loud and Clear" and "Welcome to the World", both catchy tracks, almost making this album a must buy for these tracks alone. "Loud and Clear" has a strong, consistent beat, which, coupled with the vocals, makes this a memorable song. "Welcome to the World" is both more up-tempo, and at the same time, down tempo, vocally, giving it a futurepop kind of sound. Both songs will get stuck in your head.At times, the album sounds somewhat like Seabound or Depeche Mode, especially on "Leaving Home", where it seems like a fusion of the two, but in general, Underwater Pilots avoids sounding too much like other contemporary bands. There are also some treats on this album, like the quirky "Ice Cream", a strange song, which proves that this duo has a bit of a sense of humor, albeit a bit kinky. There's also a drum-n-bass infused track towards the end of the album called "My Darkness".The album finishes with two remixes, one of "Loud and Clear" by Dope Stars Inc. and one of "Welcome to the World" by Mimetic. The first remix definitely adds a more standard guitar/bass/drums sound that makes the remix interesting. The Mimetic remix is very IDM, which, while different from the original song, isn't as good.For an album that is already four years old, this album still sounds fresh. Tranquil Places, as a whole, is a great listen and has enough diversity in it to distinguish it from the sea of acts out there. I would definitely recommend picking up this album - you won't regret it. - Legion, This is Corrosion Ezine
The Finest in Synth Pop.This in the first release by the Underwater Pilots duo due to become a timeless classic. The Band's electronic songs are well crafted with catchy hooks that stay with you long after the record is over. A great remix as well by Dope Stars Inc. Underwater Pilots will appeal to fans of Depeche Mode, VNV Nation and Wolfsheim. Also check out their cover of Ministry's "Everyday is Halloween" on the V/A Hellfire Compilation. Itunes
Underwater Pilots is the German duo Manuel Richter and Gregoire Vanoli who make electronic pop music that balances between (dark)electro and synthpop. Both gents have been playing in bands before and have been busy with music in general. They met back in 2002 and produced a demo. The album "Tranquil Places" was released already in 2004, and again in 2006 with two bonus tracks. Until the end of last year, however, the American market apparently had to make do without this album. And so it came to end up with us, four years after its initial release. This release also features two remixes from Dope Stars Inc. and Mimetic who remix the first two songs and give them that little extra "oomph", but stay close to the originals. Hmmm, what do you say about a record on which so many have already written over the last few years? I came across references to recent output of Depeche Mode. Yep. One name that occurred to me was VNV Nation. Either way, I wasn't familiar with this project yet and upon hearing it one wouldn't say it's over four years old. I think it's a rock-solid album, especially considering it's their debut! "Loud And Clear" kicks off with a solid beat and pleasant vocals. Vocals, by the way, from which you wouldn't guess these are not native speakers. And that while I tend to be rather picky when it comes to accents. The one song that really got stuck in my head this week though, and from which my reference to VNV Nation stems, is "Welcome To The World". An excellent song with infectious synths and lyrics that reach high (overpopulation,pessimistic outlook on the future) without being pretentious or cheesy to the point of becoming a self-parody. "[...] when we're gone, the Earth will take a breath." A track like "Leaving Home" indeed has a very strong Depeche Mode-vibe, mostly because of the vocalist who both in rhythm and tone reminds me of Martin Gore. Synthpop at its best. Completely bizarre is a track like "Ice Cream" that could have come from the hands of Soft Cell. Till the end this album manages to shift styles successfully and it ends, rather surprisingly, with "My Darkness", a trippy drum 'n bass song which is executed flawlessly. Clearly, this album has aged well. And for those who, like me, are left wondering whatever became of this band; their MySpace page mentions a new album is in the making. Leon Vlieger - songsoverruins (originally written for the Dutch weblog IkEcht)
There are bands out there developing a new take on darkness. It"s possible to have bright, even tranquil sounds while discussing terribly dark subjects. It"s all in the emotional state of the artist.
The band begins on a bright note. "Loud and Clear" is a great driving song, with an undercurrent of raw power and a melody of bright, positive energy, even hopeful. It makes you want to travel. The vocalist has a wonderful voice, dark but pleasant, and his enunciation is exquisite. How many vocalists in any kind of rock"n"roll can say that? He sings his words with conviction and intimacy, truly connecting with his audience.
From the beginning, the performance is perfectly confident, like the outfit"s been together forever. Again, knowing nothing about these guys, I can't say who they are or where they"ve been before, but they"re seasoned masters.
The energy continues unabated to the second track, "Welcome to the World", but here they begin to reach out to the darkness of this old Black Sabbath fan"s heart. "Welcome to the world/our egos shine like silver/and when we"re one/the earth will take a breath". I'm all about that. "Intelligence is slave to money". "More and more and more... we populate the earth like cancer". These folks speak easily to someone with a background in anarchism with a streak of nihilism that runs just a little too thick. In other words, they immediately reach me. Since they have a more refined touch in regards to emotive element, naturally they are an electronic rather than Metal band. That being said, this is the type of band that has made me connect with this genre, after years of trying to find something beyond NIN to make me love it.
The keyboards are wonderfully intricate, and are the source of the bright power of the melodies, aside from the dark, warm and gentle voice of the singer. His wry cynicism radiates nicely through the keys and over the rhythm.
This band sets atmosphere and mood carefully in their music. "I Prepare" means exactly what it says. This instrumental sets a brooding, dark tone with uncertain expectations that ready the listener for the next song. This album isn't designed so much as a singles album as a track-to-track listening experience. This track takes its time to set the tone for "Leaving Home", which finds the vocalist assuring himself that he will begin his foray into the world with that age-old angst between courage and confidence and fear and the future. "Will I have the courage to stand with empty hands/will I have the courage to do what must be done?" The song ends with an aural depiction of an opening chasm.
"I Will Fly" is an anthem about entropy: where the hell does all the time go? This is one that really speaks to me, personally. Despite the frustration expressed by the vocalist, the music remains bright and positive. The rhythm here is carried by the percussion and keyboards, which are confident and almost aggressive. Underwater Pilots use rhythm as well as voice and melody to emote, using all parts of their music to tell their story. This marks them as a band that has helped bring a maturity to electronic music that no one was expecting twenty years ago. I've been thinking about this issue very often lately, and I will have to keep an eye on this outfit as they continue to release.
More broody gothness on "Why Can't It Be Simple". After the keys establish that mood, the mournful voice of our heroic vocalist wistfully emotes about the complexities and frustrations of Life. This is an essential theme of the album, whose title hence becomes an irony. This one is short and bitter, and we move on to a bit of bizarre electronic fun.
"Ice Cream" takes us back to youthful days of yore. "I like fruit-flavored ice cream", the singer tells us. Yes, friend, times were simpler then, and entropy hadn't set in yet. You truly do wish you could curl up and go back, and this song yearns for that simplicity. Make no mistake, it does not sound like an A-ha tune. It retains the energetic beats, promoting irony in the contrast between childlike vocal meanderings and aggressive gothic/industrial instrumentation.
The keyboards beginning "Flood" speak of an underwater world, or someplace murky and dark. The band has already well-prepared us for this place, but there is a cinematic flavor to this track from the beginning. Something"s going to happen. The energy of expectation is almost videogame-like.
The energy explodes in triumphantly dark gothic-industrial fashion in "Survive", which for me is a highlight track. This one establishes the band"s genre loyalties, and should find itself on many compilations (official and homemade). It has a driving dance beat and the kind of energetic darkness that would surely feed into the atmosphere of any gothic-industrial club. I've already heard several tracks from this album in DJ mixes, and now I know who these young masters are.
Aside from the musical power of "Survive", it also continues with the angst about maturity, confidence and survival: "It is not easy to survive", the singer declares, while the music pounds away in the contrasting energies of darkness and hope. "So Safe" is highly unsafe. It continues with a ripping keyboard riff and pounding rhythm, through which enters murky keyboards. This one is the first romantic tune (as I've understood the lyrics thus far) on the disc. "You took me by the hand/and all the darkest thoughts were gone... I saw a different land/I feel so safe when I'm with you". "I can't believe you want me". Dark energies, love and hope. Nihilism with promise.
These guys are holding onto the edge of a very stark cliff. I hope they cling on, but don't quite pull themselves up too soon: I like the concept of this mix, because it works. It creates a great deal of energy for both the listener and the clubgoer. There"s tremendous potential in Underwater Pilots and their sound.
"My Darkness" is a very tranquil-sounding ambient piece until the rhythm comes drumming in, with an almost world-beat flavor. There is a children"s-chorus sound behind it all, before the vocals cry out about disconnection and a distant lover, "No hope is left for me". This particular song reminds me of a trip-hop band from Boston that had my attention a while back, "Robot Zen" (now sadly gone). "There is no paradise for me/my world is so unreal/this is my great sacrifice/"cause I feel safe here... I feel so safe here". Insecurity and doom are issues looming large for the lyricist, despite the confidence and power of the music. I really do wonder what has driven him to discuss this so openly over an entire disc. I imagine the world has been ripped out from under him more than once. I know the feeling myself, to tell you the truth, so I make no opprobrium upon him for it, let me say that clearly. It"s a valid subject, and what holds my respect for him is that he expresses it honestly without whining about it or making excuses like some little bitch grungefuck or alternative rocker or, worse yet, a fucking emo. This guy keeps it energetic and hopeful between light and dark, which means he fully intends to cope. Die with your boots on, brother. I'm right here with you from the Metal side.
The remixes are really nice. Dope Stars Inc. provided the Tranquil Mix of "Loud and Clear" and it has an enhanced energy that makes you feel like you"re revisiting an old classic - which in fact I deem this song to have already become, judging by its presence in DJ mixes in the clubs I frequent. Last is the "Mimetic Mix" of "Welcome to the World". This one has a housey, pounding beat that overtakes the brooding vocals a little bit. This one reduces the vocalist to a dark drone underneath a more aggressive, danceable music that places a more frenetic keyboard melody over the house beat. This musical theme pounds away consistently throughout the whole track, until it tapers off at the end, which makes for a kind of last gasp for an album about desperation and hope. Rating: 5 out of 5 - The Alienist, Phillygothindustrial.com
While the album "Tranquil Places" by Underwater Pilots is set solidly in its genre, it tilts the variety meter one way and then the other with each successive track. In this case, variety works in its favor.
The German-based duo, Manuel Richter and Gregoire Vanoli, both have quite interesting resumes. Their education is in classical music, though their interest is strictly in electronic music. While Richter is a producer in his own right, co-producing Anne Clark"s latest album "The Smallest Acts Of Kindness," Vanoli is a 3D animator and a freelance producer/instructor at the School for Audio Engineering in Hamburg. The band have opened for Covenant, VNV Nation, and Wolfsheim among others, and have worked with Funker Vogt, Implant, Anne Clark and Dope Stars, Inc on remixes.
It is no surprise that musicians with dynamic resumes would arrive at an album that is equally so. The lead track, "Loud and Clear" has anathema-tic overtones, and a chorus with a high level of sing-along-ability. The tracks "Welcome to the World" and "Survive" both dip their toes into rhythmic club trance, while the track "So Safe" reflects a bit of Dave Gahan"s solo work. "Ice Cream" is drunk with robotic, vocoder-enhanced vocals and the ending track, "My Darkness" nods flirtatiously towards trip hop rhythms. The clear winner on the album is the track "I Will Fly" which embodies the album"s purest synthpop form, welding together generations of influences and wickedly turning up the heat with smoldering vocals and titillating synths. The album takes a breath with two ambient tracks, "I Prepare," and "Flood," and slips in two bonus remixes, one by Dope Stars, Inc.
As debut albums go, this one is impressive. While the tracks are unique from each other, the album melds together as a finished piece. The music takes you on an exploration, but doesn't take you off the map. - DJ Candy Durant
Even though both members of the UNDERWATER PILOTS enjoyed a classic musical training both ended up in the electronic music sector due to their fascination for this kind of sound. You might know one member under his alias XABEC under which he's also co-produced ANNE CLARKE's latest album "The smallest Acts of Kindness". The debut album of the duo "Tranquil Places" has already been released in 2004 and currently they're putting the finishing touches on the yet untitled successor.
"Loud and Clear" opens and delivers typical electro pop fodder with a club-ish pattern, catchy hooks and melodies. Following is "Welcome to the World" whose roots are deep in the 80s. It has a very special atmosphere that's lasting throughout every second of the track. What I hate about it is that close to the end one minute is filled with repetitions of the chorus. That's absolutely nerve breaking and unnecessarily stretches the track. The third album track "I Prepare" an instrumental also has a very unique mood inheriting it; very claustrophobic and angst-laden. You're feeling like being trapped in a dark place with no light switch from which there's no escape. "Why Can't It Be Simple" atmospherically is nearly on the same page as regards this. Perhaps a bit less frightening mixing in some sorrowful and reflective tones in their stead and vocals seeming to be reverberating through worlds! "Ice Cream" without wanting to sound insulting appears to me like a ridiculous piece of 80s fun pop which I have no sympathies for and one of the synth melodies is suspiciously familiar to me. The club species will love it for sure though.
After "My Darkness" has ended the regular track listing with a pleasant and playful drum'n'bass surprise there's two remixes of the first album tracks topping the album of. Both are pretty different. The "Tranquil Mix" of "Loud and Clear" by Italian project DOPE STARS INC. turns it upside-down into an organic rock tune.
"Tranquil Places" still is over average due to an amount of pieces with a special character but that being said it's not an album that really stands out; not even by 2004 standards. But the new album is in the pipeline so I'm waiting for what's to come with it and see if it can excel its predecessor. - Sebastian Huhn, Reflections of Darkness Webzine
The general public including myself most likely got their first taste of Underwater Pilots on the popular electronic compilation Advanced Electronics, it would be the third Advanced Electronics that would house the track "Loud and Clear", surely enough this track would ring out loud and clear to garner much attention, which would lead them to get signed to Repo Records, a German label with acts such as Funker Vogt and Birthday Massacre. Shortly after Van Richter in the US would come out with a domestic version of Tranquil Places the US version gets a bonus of two tracks which include remixes from Dope Stars Inc. and Mimetic both of which enhance the quality of this already strong release.
The album begins with the already well known track "Loud and clear"; the sound braces deep roots in synthpop while adding a good melodic edge to it which would be hard for any dance floor to ignore. A few tracks boast the ability to break up any kind of repetitive flow ensuring a wide variety of musical styling; "Ice Cream" is a fairly simple track that delves into a techno flavor that duels with vocoded voices and cold female spoken words. "Why Can't It Be Simple" is a quiet track that features distant vocals that embody haunting melodies that further add to the somber mood of the song.
The Pilots shatter the safe and clean pop sound that encases the majority of this album for a darker sound that delves into the poppy side of Nine Inch Nails which is almost non-existent to some standards. They meld crunchy guitars almost akin to the old Wax Trax era of Industrial with mild vocal distortion laid over a mellow beat.
"My Darkness" closes out the album with quite the surprise, you would come to expect with the song name and being the final song of the album that it might be a slow track that eludes to the end, but instead it's a track with a house like flavor that could even make its way in some ritzy clothing store. The track is very upbeat and does little to wind down any up tempo this album might cause a listener, which in some cases is either good or not so good, in this case it is a proper closing to this release.
A wise and lucky gem Van Richter records achieved in releasing with this stand out album, when everything these days tends to mesh together and barely anything stands out. If you are a fan of bands like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails and even Apoptygma Berzerk, I would highly recommend picking up this album because it is stellar from start to finish, the perfection laid out on this release can be heard simply loud and clear. Line-Up: Gregoire Vanoli: Electronics Manuel G. Richter: Vocals, Electronics - Dj Carrion, Corrosion Records
Reminiscent of Depeche Mode Goth/Industrial, especially when it comes to their vocals, Underwater Pilots hail from Germany, and although their album Tranquil Places was released back in 2004, it's worth checking them out while waiting for their new release to come out soon. It's the kind of music you'd hear in any good Goth club; the kind you can dance to, that gets your energy up, that has feeling behind it. Probably one of the best bands in its genre, they are found on Van Richter Records here in the U.S. and seem to have a very promising future ahead of them. I'm looking forward to hearing what their new tunes sounds like! 4 Diamonds - Gina Ultimo, Paragon Magazine
When I heard the story of Underwater Pilots, I won't lie, I was initially confused, and a bit fascinated. A German duet that creates solely electronic music, despite both members having a classical musical education - I could only imagine what this influence might bring to the table. The product of this project's work is their debut album, Tranquil Places.
The opening track "Loud And Clear," admittedly is very catchy, once you get past the spastic intro. Following the common "verse, chorus, repeat" song structure, and with the fast electronic basis, it's easy to see why some make the initial connection to Depeche Mode. The title track, which follows "Loud and Clear" is a huge contrast, taking a repetitive beat, and gradually adding layer upon layer, including a mostly spoken vocal track. It's got a much more club dance song feel than the previous.
This album is constantly changing stylistically, and this is apparent even by the fourth track "Leaving Home." This time, there's a certain amount of additional intensity, which seems to have come with the new industrial influence. The problem with this track is that the layering of this song becomes a bit much, and in turn, takes away from the song as a whole.
Complex lyricism isn't the primary focus of the music created by Underwater Pilots. As an example, "I Will Fly" has a decent concept, but almost seems that words were just added to follow the beat, which is, in all honesty, fairly catchy. "Ice Cream" could've probably done without any vocal track whatsoever, because on its own it would've maintained a certain hauntingly captivating feel, without the completely random "I like fruit flavored ice cream" littered throughout. I found it somewhat ridiculous, but to each his own I suppose.
My favorite song on this album is easily "So Safe." It includes a previously seen dose of industrial, and vocals that, stylistically, would seem better suited in something much more rock-oriented. The synth sound samples used in the interlude even created the pretty convincing sound of a chugging guitar. I'd also like to point out that before this, the synths occasionally became overwhelming in comparison to the vocals, but in this case, there is a perfect balance.
For what this is, it is a decent work. It's not without flaws, of course. For the most part, it's mixed well, with the occasional aspect that becomes slightly overwhelming. It also has some amount of filler, both in portions of songs, and even several tracks alone. On the flip side, the things that Underwater Pilots manage to pull off, they do well, especially catchy tracks, at least when that is intended to be the main focus. The inclusion of the Dope Stars Inc. remix of "Loud and Clear" is commendable, it is very good and much more rock in style, even going so far to include a nice guitar solo, while still maintaining the electronic feel of the original. Overall, Tranquil Places is good, but far from perfect. - Sara Cooper, MuzikReviews.com Staff
Tranquil places is not a new album, originally released in Europe during 2004 and the US in 2008. For some years, the band went on hiatus as Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli pursued other projects. Manuel co-produced Anne Clark's "The Smallest Acts Of Kindness" and worked on his side project Xabec. Some time during late 2007 or early 2008, the band reactivated, entering the studio once again. With an album due for release in the near future (the duo tight lipped on details of a release date and album name) it is timely that we take a look at this album.
Tranquil Places is melancholia articulated by clear unadulterated vocals, trance-synthpop arrangements incorporating elements of our favourite softer electronic genres. Loud and Clear, the albums opening track, is an upbeat bopy dance track that may lead you dangerously astray for what comes next. Loud and Clear is a great song but a fish out of water down-temp dance track that sits awkwardly as the albums introduction. With a strong beat and a lazy sunny sound, one could easily trance out on the dance floor grinning like a happy kid. Loud and Clear is youth's innocence yet to be crushed by the reality of existence or the weekend escapist's flight from it.
Welcome To The World, the albums second track, could easily have been the opener with a silky dark arrangement that embraces the smooth articulate vocals offering delicious social criticism, not in a revolutionary way but as a neutral glimpse of contemporary western society. Following on from Welcome To The World is I Prepare, an ambient introspective instrumental painted with panning ethereal pads and a soft pulse.
Leaving Home incorporates some EBM influences with some brief distorted beats and genre synth programming. Again, an introspective trance track. I Will Fly picks up the pace a bit with lively drum programming and a tasty mix of groves hinting at the albums most dance oriented track, Survive. This energetic dark IDM track will get you excited and moving.
Overall, Tranquil Places, can be seen as a conscious thinking person’s journey through life. Tranquil Places are the havens and times for reflective introspection. Tranquil Places is life expressed through creative IDM.
If you are a fan of Liquid Divine you will most likely like this album. At times the similarities between the two bands are so close you will find yourself, when recommending Underwater Pilots to friends, saying something like, "Liquid Pilots".... Fans of bands like Massive Attack, Covenant and so many other trance, EBM, and ambient bands should also check this out. Score: 5/5 JimZombie, Eclectomatic Ezine
Underwater Pilots is the project by the German duo Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli. Signed to Van Richter Records and the Funker Vogt owned label Repo Records. "Tranquil places" offers electropop with a fair amount of complex structures and danceable beats. The electropop delivered on "Tranquil places" has some very nice side ingredients in there for people who also enjoy bands like Autechre, the track "Why can't it be simple" being a very nice example of this. Autechre like elements are mixed with electropop. Also the tracks "I will fly" and "Ice cream" are less conventional, yet very powerful and show that the strongest part is kept for the second half of the album. I don't expect this release to storm the charts, but it as such a very nice release that could easily result in a more balanced follow-up. Advised for Distain! And De/Vision (check "Leaving home") fans, the similarities are there for one reason! Add to this an excellent production and you are in for a good treat. The U.S. version has top notch bonus remixes by Dope Stars Inc. and Mimetic. (BVI:7) - BVI, Sideline Magazine
Underwater Pilots are an electronic duo from Hamburg/Leipzig, Germany. Manuel G. Richter and Gregoire Vanoli create a blend of Synth-Pop with subtile melancholy and a unique trance feeling. Their first cd "Tranquil Places" was released 2004 by RepoRecords (ger), 2008 by VanRichter (us) and Soyuz (Russia). Manuel is well known in the international experimental scene under the moniker Xabec. He co-produced Anne Clark's latest album "The Smallest Acts Of Kindness". Greg is a professional in 3D animation and computerfilm, he is working as a freelance producer and teacher at the School for Audio Enigeering (SAE) in Hamburg.
What I like the most with "Tranquil Places" is that the songs manage to surprise me, there is now way to know or to even try to know how the songs will be like or turn out to be and that is intriguing. Underwater Pilotshas made a strong debut album with very complex and interesting songs, the more you listen to them the more you hear and discover. I quickly found a couple of favorite songs on this album that I will take with me as I move from this album - but the whole album grows on you the more you listen to it. "Welcome to the world" is a good sounding electro sounding song; I like the combination of sounds in this one and the way the song kind of speeds up. Talkative vocals fit very well to the music and talk about thought worthy lyrics. "Why can't it be simple" is different and special, I really like the way the music and vocals sounds like, in a way it is kind of out of sync but it might sound strange but this creates a very cool and interesting song. I like the laid back feeling that really moves me but the song ends too abrupt for my taste.
"Flood" quickly became a favorite on the album, the song is simple yet so much more, I have trouble putting words to my thoughts as I listen to this one but I like the way the song makes me feel. Moving music that speaks in a way that words cannot, it puts me in some kind of meditative state of mind so I close my eyes and just enjoy the music. I could easily have listened to this sound for a lot longer - the song kind of ends way too soon. - Helena Torstensson, Gothic Beauty Magazine
On The Wave Of Nostalgia a freshman new release but really worth to take it from the shelf, to blow the dust away and listen to it again... "Tranquil Places" was released 2004 in Europe, and 2008 in North America as exclusive release which includes two remixes by Dope Stars Inc and Mimetic. Underwater Pilots are Manuel G. Richter (vocals, production) and Gregoire Vanoli (live-electronics, production), a Synth-Pop-Trance Duo from Germany. With "Tranquil Places" they released something that can be called a real high quality debut. The music seems to be heavily influenced by the dark 80's. The tracks are original, melodic and various. The range is from chilled out ambient stuff to driving beats that kicks our asses directly to the dance floor. Manuel convinces me with his wonderful, strong, warm voice and dark lyrics, sometimes full of cynicism, sometimes highly amusing. There are also a few pure instrumental tracks on the album, but it depends on your taste. I am not a big fan, I prefer in general songs with vocals. Not every newcomer band these days is able to release such a good debut ... so it's even more sad that there is no new release of this promising band until now. In the hard times in music business today you can be easily forgotten... But who knows... we'll wait and see. - Dani Kammler, Neuweltmusic Magazine
A new sensation to the Synth pop scene but long known is the release "Tranquil Places". The debut album by Underwater Pilots first appeared in 2004. Seven years later it was re-issued on the U.S. label Van Richter Records on CD format. The added value of this are two remixes of the best songs: "Loud And Clear" (by Dope Stars Inc) and "Welcome To The World". (by Mimetic) These SynthPop anthems begins "Tranquil Places", with all the elements comprising for fans of electronic pop delight (fine melodies, good vocals, punchy beats and atmospheric density), all which has the makings of a great synth pop album.
Both pieces raise the bar high. The following nine original songs of the longplayer do not have difficulties to follow the same standard. The songwriting of Underwater Pilots shows following Loud And Clear "and" Welcome To The World " to be less atmospheric and dense. For example the opening chorus of "Loud And Clear" overlooks a wide area, sharpening the mind and the senses with its catchy pop hooks. However songs like "So Safe" appear more limiting. This album does have its appeal for fans of old school synth pop. The production on "Leaving Home" and "Survive" is well crafted . The two remixes at the end of the album enhance this re-release.
The tranquil mix of "Loud And Clear" by Dope Stars Inc surprises with dry played drums, orchestral arrangements and an electric guitar that plays a blatant 80s solo. The time machine stops in on the probably most successful days of synth-pop era and shows alternative fans that simultaneously wearing a leather jacket and a denim outfit appears perfectly normal. That was indeed the sign of the times. The Mimetic Mix on "Welcome To The World" puts me into a drum machine, while incessantly several snare drums hit me on the head at the same time. which every now and then appears in the chorus. Much more is left over from the original song. This remix also clocks in with a high BPM.
The conclusion is to grow with the band. The album versions of "Loud And Clear" and "Welcome To The World" are so good that you have to recommend the purchase of "Tranquil Places". and then just let yourself be surprised by all the other songs over time. - Manfred Thomaser, Body Styler Magazine
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