It’s a given that Tangerine Dream is one of the best bands ever. Their blend of rock and electronic changed the landscape of film, pop, and underground music forever. Countless artists have been inspired by Tangerine Dream — some building something new from the influence and others trending toward mimicry. New act Neuland goes beyond deriving mere influence from the band and strays away from mimicry. Perhaps this comes from actually being there: the duo is composed of original Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann and score composer Paul Haslinger, who was in the band from 1985-1990. Their often-haunting self-titled debut, out today, is an evocatively cinematic journey deep within the self.
One thing this album isn’t: a nostalgia trip. Don’t go into this thinking you’ll get a healthy dose of classic Tangerine Dream, or even more modern iterations of the late Edgar Froese’s 50-year-old band. This record doesn’t lean heavily on the arpeggiated beauty of “Love on a Real Train” from 1983’s Risky Business or try to recreate “Beach Theme” from Thief. Instead, you get more modern-sounding synthscapes and sensibilities that are delicately coated with perceptible, but judiciously utilized remnants of the past. There are passages that recall Tangerine Dream’s Baumann-populated ‘70s kosmische years, but that’s all wrapped in the contemporary-sounding bliss of Warp Records vibes or even the spirit of Haslinger’s score work for properties like Halt and Catch Fire. Put this on a playlist alongside Alessandro Cortini and you’ll have a seamless and compelling experience.
The whole thing is naturally cinematic — despite Baumann’s and Haslinger’s stated mission to dive deep within instead of the vast without. “Road to Danakill” is a Goblinesque marauding onslaught of foreboding that pairs somewhat mournful orchestral horns with resolute dark synths. “Dream 9” is a massive march into the ninth concentric circle of your innermost fears, colored with delectably crystalline synths and treated sounds that do a fantastic job masquerading as specters. “M-Tron Fields” has some of the galactic arpeggiations of the Neuland men’s past, but because they’re apt to be more abstract the journey never feels too familiar. “Measure 3” is a kinetic injection of krautrock bliss. The closer, “Longing in Motion,” is a gorgeous layering of synths that builds a much-needed sense of hope after the sometimes challenging reveals the preceding tracks have fostered.
This live, multimedia Neuland project started out as a concept 30 years ago under the name “Blue Room,” but it doesn’t sound like the ’80s. Overall, Neuland’s self-titled debut album finds two veterans of kosmische mastery letting loose with their talents in a modern setting — allowing them to remember the old days but ensuring the new ones are just as memorable.