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The Enigmatic Trance Atlantic Air Waves

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Trance Atlantic Air Waves, or just T.A.A.W, was a side-project by Enigma’s Michael Cretu and Jens Gad in the late 1990s. Among the band’s fans today this project, who only released one album called The Energy of Sound, is largely forgotten – mainly because albums of cover songs doesn’t age well. But it is actually a great album if you manage to forget the fact that songs like Axel F. and Crockett’s Theme are totally worn-out. There’s three original songs here too that, in sum, are making this into a highly energetic album.

The Energy of Sound was an enigma to me when it was released back in 1998, and I still don’t fully get it; Why would two so talented artists release an album of mostly cover versions of 20-30 year old songs? About the project Michael Cretu said:

For years I’ve had this idea to collect well known and famous instrumental hits of completely different genres and styles, to work on them and to put them together to a new entity on an album

Same song, new wrapping
The album starts with the song Lucifer, which was a top 10 hit by the Alan Parsons Project at the end of 1979. From the very first minutes we recognize the sound of Cretu’s synths and Gad’s guitar (which sounds especially great in the end of the song). It is apparent that this could have been an Enigma album in terms of sound – though it is something quite different. Their Axel F. version is upbeat and fast. The mix here is excellent, plus an amazing guitar part, that make this into a premium cover version. Their take on Jan Hammer’s Crockett’s Theme is just as great, though it basically is the same, Miami Vice song. No studio tricks and audio make-up can change that.

These are the cover songs included on the album (plus the above mentioned songs);

  • Dance With The Devil – a song by drummer legend Cozy Powell from 1973.
  • Magic Fly (Wonderland Mix) – the French group Space had a magical one-hit-wonder with “Magic Fly” which went straight to #1 of the German charts and became “Hit Of The Year” in 1977.
  • Chase – Oscar and Golden Globe winning title track by Giorgio Moroder from the movie Midnight Express (1978).
  • Pulstar – Vangelis’ classical song from 1976.

This quite eclectic collection of songs is being justified this way it the press kit from Virgin Music:

You either hum them lost in thought or you happen to hear them on the radio, on old tapes or a scratched old vinyl record. Melodies that have one major thing in common: there is no human voice to accompany them. But still these sounds add up to distinct images in the mind’s eye somehow like an imaginary video clip. They‘re classics quoting themselves. Instrumental compositions are magic in their own way: they tell stories without words and a different one for each listener. What remains is “The Energy Of Sound”.

But all of this is forgotten when the original songs, Addiction Day, Twelve After Midnight and L-42 comes on. These songs are ment as “bridges or hinges” holding together the intricate sound web of the seven classics.” If that only were true; these three songs are by far the most interesting on the album, and the best of them is Jens Gad’s Addiction Day:

 

The bell like instrument in the start, plus the mysterious lead synth and rhythm make this into a magnificent song. Its atmosphere is all Enigma. It is one of my all-time favorite songs; I have listened to it for over 15 years, and it still is a winner to me.

Twelve After Midnight is also an amazing song – here with what I think is the original video (correct me if I’m wrong):

 

The complete album is also available on Youtube:

 

What have we learned from the T.A.A.W. project? As you know, energy never disappears; it only transforms itself. That is, in a way, what happened with the  T.A.A.W too. Cretu and Gad went on to work on Enigma’s 2000 album The Screen Behind the Mirror. But even though The Energy of Sound remains an enigma to me, I’m glad that it was made. It’s actually a very enjoyable and quite different album.

Score: 88/100 – See how I rate music here.

Play the album on:

ituneslink

spotify