Tag: Peter Baumann (Page 1 of 2)

Lost Albums: LEDA Welcome To Joyland

In 1978, Peter Baumann had left TANGERINE DREAM and pondering his next move.

He had released his first solo album ‘Romance 76’ while still a member of TANGERINE DREAM but in 1977, electronic music had changed when Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ produced by Giorgio Moroder pointed towards the future. Baumann had his new Berlin-based Paragon Studio to maintain while his next solo album ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ was still a year off, so needed to earn some money quickly.

Inspired by ‘I Feel Love’, he hit upon the idea of doing a disco flavoured electronic record with an alluring female voice that had commercial promise. His musical collaborator in the project would be ethnomusicologist Hans Brandeis while providing the vocals was a mysterious Italian girl. While Leda has often assumed to be her name, this was never confirmed.

With his customised Project Elektronik modular system used during the shows featured on TANGERINE DREAM’s ‘Encore’ live album, Baumann came up with eight electronically-based sequenced songs and one instrumental for ‘Welcome To Joyland’.

The opening sequencer laden ‘Welcome To Joyland’ title song made a fine statement of intent with the vocals coming over very natural and complimentary to the sparkling electro Weimar cabaret aesthetic. With an archetypical TANGERINE DREAM styled bassline, ‘Endless Race’ took an icy journey of its own thanks to angelic vocals as if calling from the Alps as synthesized gulls boosted the atmospheric effect.

Further arpeggiated sparkles came from ‘White Clouds’ although the drumming put it into prog territory while the vocals were wispier and more child-like. The brilliantly cosmic ‘Movin’ On’ sat on a steady 3/4 time signature and the vocals even got soulful while the freeform synth solo provided by Baumann was a total delight.

Photo by Jerome Froese

Beginning in a much more discordant fashion, ‘City Of Light’ throbbed like Moroder although pointing more to his MUNICH MACHINE work with Chris Bennett rather than Donna Summer, but its Sci-Fi resonances were spoilt slightly by the recorded distortion. With pipey textures and minimal synthbass, ‘Space Ride’ offered an instrumental interlude in the vein of Baumann’s first solo record ‘Romance ‘76’. However, veering towards synthesized folk music, ‘Caroussel’ was something of an odd outlier and even brought flutes in!

In acknowledgement of ‘I Feel Love’ which had been signalling the future of pop, the mighty ‘Future’ completely aped it with enticing combination of throbbing electronics, cosmic solos and high pitched vocals. Closing with the mystical prog waltz of Stardust’, ABBA-like vocal phrasing was adopted although the backdrop of white noise waves indicated this was anything but the Swedes. Oddly though, this track had stylistic similarities to ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ from his former band’s long playing vocal experiment ‘Cyclone’ also released in 1978.

Clocking in at just under 34 minutes, ‘Welcome To Joyland’ was an accessible and melodic work with disco flirtations and sweet vocals but despite this, there was an esoteric quality about the majority of the songs and with a number of strong highlights, this was a far better and more appealing record than TANGERINE DREAM’s ‘Cyclone’.

But with misgivings about its perceived commercial nature, Peter Baumann took on the alias of Hacoon Mail while Hans Brandeis used the Franco pseudonym Cyril Claud for the ‘Welcome To Joyland’ credits and its release on the European multi-national label Metronome was accompanied by virtually non-existent promotion to retain a mystery and stimulate the press curiosity… however, the strategy backfired and the album flopped.

Baumann went back to making the instrumental music that he made his name with on 1979’s ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’, but he introduced a vocalised aesthetic albeit using vocoder as Moroder had done on his acclaimed Giorgio electronic albums.

‘Welcome To Joyland’ remains something of a curio in the Peter Baumann portfolio, but it is a pointer to the pop song based direction he launched on the 1981 Robert Palmer produced ‘Repeat Repeat’. It proved to be an even bigger surprise to TANGERING DREAM fans but that is another story…

‘Welcome To Joyland’ is available via Private Records on most online platforms

Text by Chi Ming Lai
8 June 2024

PETER BAUMANN Phase By Phase – The Virgin Albums

Peter Baumann is best known for being a member of the classic line-up of TANGERINE DREAM.

Joining in 1971, together with Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke, the trio produced a run of imperial albums released on Virgin Records including ‘Phaedra’, ‘Rubycon’, ‘Ricochet’ and ‘Stratosfear’ which exemplified The Berlin School, a sub-genre of otherworldly electronic music whose other exponents also included Klaus Schulze, Manuel Göttsching and Florian Fricke.

Baumann’s father was a composer and conductor, so it was almost a given that he would take an interest in music and he began playing organ in covers bands. A chance meeting with Christopher Franke at an EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER concert in Berlin led to an invitation to replace Steve Schroyder in TANGERINE DREAM.

With Edgar Froese having already released his first solo album ‘Aqua’ in 1974, it was suggested by Virgin Records that Baumann could follow suit. Already thinking ahead on his own terms, he had commissioned the Berlin-based electronics company Project Elektronik to build a customised modular synthesizer system which used toggle switches rather than cables to enable faster re-routing during live performance; its controller keyboard was designed by Wolfgang Palm, later to found PPG who would become known for their Wave series of synthesizers.

Photo by Jerome Froese

Written in the baking Summer of 1976, ‘Romance ‘76’ comprised of two contrasting suites. In the first half, ‘Bicentennial Present’ showcased strong synth lines and hypnotic rhythmic backbones in a move towards melody away from the cerebral soundscapes of ‘Phaedra’ and ‘Rubycon’; Baumann can even be heard chuckling to himself while performing it. Sparse heartwarming sequencer passages provided a fitting backdrop to ‘Romance’ while ‘Phase By Phase’ continued with the minimal template albeit in a more bubbly fashion and adding church bells!

The second half was more experimental and organic featuring female vocals and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir conducted by Peter’s father Herbert in Munich. With cello, violins and choirs, ‘Meadow of Infinity (Part One)’ was eerie, dramatic and off the beaten track using electronics only for effects, before segueing into ‘The Glass Bridge’ which brought percussion and woodwinds into the equation before returning back for the ominous Part Two reprise of ‘Meadow of Infinity’ where electronics returned alongside the sombre orchestrations.

But all was not happy within the TANGERINE DREAM camp. Baumann’s confidence had increased to the point that his sharp contributions on the Project Elektronik system during live shows were now outshining Franke’s Moog. Creative and musical tensions were at a high during the trio’s two US tours in 1977. After completing work on the subsequent live double album ‘Encore’, Peter Baumann left TANGERINE DREAM.

Baumann began producing other artists such as Italian artist Leda on her album ‘Welcome To Joyland’ and applied his sequenced knowhow into a more song-based format. The record featured a combination of throbbing electronics and high pitched vocals in acknowledgement of ‘I Feel Love’ which had been signalling the future of pop. Although at the time he felt ‘Welcome To Joyland’ was “too commercial”, it had a profound effect on Baumann and the development of his aesthetic.

As a result, 1979’s ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ was something of an interim record, mostly comprising of shorter instrumental compositions using mysterious melodies and occasional vocoder textures pointing halfway towards conventional pop vocal phrasing. To open, ‘This Day’ brought in guitar and vocoder alongside drones and sequences. Wolfgang Thierfeldt provided drums on ‘White Bench & Black Beach’ in another sign of adopting less experimental considerations while its strident synthlines recalled Vangelis.

Using harpsichord, ‘Chasing The Dream’ offered mediaeval resonances before pacey pulses took hold on the climax while with vocodered vocals, ‘Biking Up the Strand’ sprang a surprise as a bouncy waltz. ‘Phaseday’ though was perhaps more of what was expected from Baumann as ‘Meridian Moorland’ piped along stridently in a more abstract manner. The fabulous ‘The Third Site’ presented pacey barrage of electronics with spikey overtones nut an even bigger surprise came with a real flugel horn from Bernhard Jobski to accompany the percussive mantra and folk-like overtures of ‘Dance at Dawn’.

Today, ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ remains something of an underrated electronic gem that clearly connected to TANGERINE DREAM before the start of Baumann’s adventure in pop with ‘Repeat Repeat’. Throwing in his lot with the-then burgeoning Neue Deutsche Welle movement, the album was recorded in New York and at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas.

Signalling a complete departure from TANGERINE DREAM, it was co-produced by Robert Palmer, fresh from the critical acclaim for his more synth and art funk driven 1980 album ‘Clues’. Using musicians such as keyboardist Carsten Bohn, guitarists Ritchie Fliegler and John Tropea, and drummer Mike Dawe, the ‘Repeat Repeat’ title song was a quirky commentary on popular culture that could have come straight off ‘Clues’.

Listening closely to his then-Virgin Records label mates, ‘Home Sweet Home’ offered a detached cross between SPARKS and MAGAZINE while ‘Deccadance’ sounded as if aliens had landed in a Weimar Cabaret. More guitar driven, ‘Real Times’ continued Baumann’s Russell Mael impression but also recalled Eno’s ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ era.

As its title suggested, ‘Brain Damage’ was mad and fun while with its reggae inflections, ‘Kinky Dinky’ was a homage to CAN. Declaring “I love money, I love cars, I love TV too”, the detached ‘Daytime Logic’ was an absorbing rhythmic excursion that almost funked! Meanwhile, ‘Playland Pleasure’ was totally SPARKS and what the Mael Brothers might have sounded like had they adopted the synths but not gone disco with Giorgio Moroder. With some neo-flamenco drama but without the acoustic guitars, ‘What is Your Use’ made its presence felt both percussively and synthetically to close.

Enjoyable but very much of its time, the conclusive overview of ‘Repeat Repeat’ is that Robert Palmer was able to realise some of his more synthesized ambitions that were not able to be put in place for ‘Clues’. For Baumann, he got to play the pop star although ultimately he was not able to come up with anything quite as memorable and anthemic as say Peter Schilling with ‘Major Tom’ or Nena with ’99 Luftballons’. Whatever, this album was a shock to TANGERINE DREAM fans and an even bigger surprise was to come.

Ending his tenure with Virgin Records, Peter Baumann caught the attention of Arista Records whose founder Clive Davis had signed Barry Manilow and would later give Whitney Houston her first record contract. The resultant Italo and Europop flavoured album ‘Strangers In The Night’ included an electronic disco cover of the title song made famous by Frank Sinatra and confused TANGERINE DREAM fans even more!

Baumann retried from composing but remained in music, founding his successful Private Music label in 1984 which was later bought by BMG in 1994. Among the roster were notable names including Andy Summers, Ravi Shankar, Carlos Alomar, Suzanne Ciani, Yanni and TANGERINE DREAM.

Although Peter Baumann briefly rejoined TANGERINE DREAM in 2015 and released The Berlin School inspired ‘Machines Of Desire’ in 2016 on Bureau B, in 2019 he launched his new project NEULAND with another former member of TANGERINE DREAM, Paul Haslinger; with seemingly no further activity on the NEULAND front, Baumann continues his work for The Baumann Institute which he founded in 2009 “dedicated to exploring the nature of awareness and its relationship to human health and well-being.”

What ‘Phase By Phase’ captures is a fascinating period in which Peter Baumann never rested on his laurels and took creative risks. Because of the gaps running decades in his back catalogue, his contribution to electronic music is perhaps underrated, especially within the family tree of the band with whom he made his name. This new boxed set should help put things right.

‘Phase By Phase – The Virgin Albums’ is released as a 3CD box set on 7 June 2024, available from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/peter-baumann-phase-by-phase-the-virgin-albums-3cd-box-set/



Text by Chi Ming Lai
29 May 2024


While 1979 saw a post-punk revolution with new wave and ska emerge as energetic expressions of youth with the likes of JOY DIVISION, XTC, THE SPECIALS and MADNESS, maturer acts with power pop sensibilities such as BLONDIE and THE POLICE dominated the UK charts.

But the synthesizer had become a new tool of creativity for those who weren’t interested in learning chords on a guitar and preferred to use one finger, thanks to its new found affordability with refined technology from Japan. While electronics had been present in disco, progressive rock and esoteric avant garde forms, following seminal records in 1978 such as ‘Warm Leatherette’ b/w ‘TVOD’ by THE NORMAL and ‘Being Boiled’ by THE HUMAN LEAGUE, a new DIY artpop form was developing that would eventually take on KRAFTWERK at their own game.

Among those fledgling electronic acts who released their debut singles in 1979 on independent labels were OMD with ‘Electricity’ on Factory Records and FAD GADGET with ‘Back To Nature’ on Mute Records. Meanwhile on another independent Rough Trade, CABARET VOLTAIRE achieved a wider breakthrough with ‘Nag Nag Nag’, the standalone single accompanying their first album ‘Mix-Up’.

Having experimented with synths on ‘Low’ released in 1977, David Bowie had gone to see THE HUMAN LEAGUE at The Nashville in late 1978 and hailed them as “the future of rock ‘n’ roll”. Alas it was TUBEWAY ARMY fronted by Gary Numan who beat THE HUMAN LEAGUE to the top of the UK singles charts in Summer 1979 with Are Friends Electric?’. However, just a few weeks earlier, SPARKS had taken the Giorgio Moroder produced ‘No1 Song In Heaven’ into the UK Top20. But however history is perceived, a revolution had begun that would lead to the dawn of “synthpop” in 1980.

Here are 20 albums which ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK sees as contributing to the electronic legacy of 1979. They are listed in alphabetical order with a restriction of one album per artist moniker, meaning Gary Numan and Edgar Froese appear twice…

ASHRA Correlations

As ASHRA, Manuel Göttsching released what many consider to be his first ambient masterpiece ‘New Age Of Earth’. On 1978’s ‘Blackouts’, he expanded the line-up to include drumming synthesist Harald Grosskopf and guitarist Lutz Ulbrich which continued on ‘Correlations’. Despite being more rock-oriented, it featured sequenced electronics with ‘Club Cannibal’ almost entering Jean-Michel Jarre territory.

‘Correlations’ is still available via Spalax Music


PETER BAUMANN Trans Harmonic Nights

Although he had released ‘Romance ‘76’ while still a member of TANGERINE DREAM, Peter Baumann’s first solo album after departing the band was something of an interim record before venturing into electronic pop with ‘Repeat Repeat’. Mostly shorter instrumental compositions using mysterious melodies and occasional vocoder textures, ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ remains something of an underrated electronic gem.

‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ is still available via Cherry Red Records



With TANGERINE DREAM taking a misstep with ‘Cyclone’ and perhaps prompted by the success of Jean-Michel Jarre’s electronic symphonies, on his fifth solo album ‘Stuntman’, Edgar Froese was at his most accessible with strong synth melodies, particularly on the title track. Elsewhere, new ages resonances were starting to develop while on ‘Drunk Mozart In The Desert’, there was atmospherics coupled with a rhythmic bounce.

‘Stuntman’ is still available via Virgin Records



Produced and co-written by Zeus B Held, the debut album by androgynous art history student Gina Kikoine featured an array of ARP and Moog synths to signal the birth of a new European Underground. Cult club favourite ‘No GDM’ was written in honour of the “great dark man” Quentin Crisp while other highlights included the detached vocoder assisted robotic soul of the title song and the feisty gender statement ‘Be A Boy’.

Available on the album ‘Nice Mover + Voyeur’ via Les Disques du Crepuscule



With Giorgio Moroder acquiring Roland’s new System 700 and an MC8 Micro-composer to control it, ‘E=MC2’ was touted as the first “electronic live-to-digital” album. This allowed for an uptempo funkiness previously unheard on sequencer based music to come into play. With the electronically treated vocals and euphoric energy of the marvellous ‘What A Night’, the sound of DAFT PUNK was inadvertently being invented!

‘E=MC²’ is still available via Repertoire Records


STEVE HILLAGE Rainbow Dome Musick

As a member of GONG and solo artist, Steve Hillage had a love of German experimental music and ventured into ambient with long standing partner Miquette Giraudy. Recorded for the Rainbow Dome at the ‘Festival For Mind-Body-Spirit’ at London’s Olympia, these two lengthy Moog and ARP assisted tracks each had a beautifully spacey vibe to induce total relaxation with a colourful sound spectrum.

‘Rainbow Dome Musick’ is still available via Virgin Records



With a manifesto of “synthesizers and vocals only”, the debut album by THE HUMAN LEAGUE included ‘Empire State Human’, ‘Circus Of Death’, ‘Almost Medieval’, ‘Blind Youth’ and a stark cover of ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’. Produced by Colin Thurston, while ‘Reproduction’ was not a commercial success, Philip Oakey, Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware gained valuable experience that would progress their careers.

‘Reproduction’ is still available via Virgin Records


JAPAN Quiet Life

Although considered a 1980 album, the third JAPAN long player was actually released late 1979 in Japan, Canada, Holland and Germany. Featuring the sequencer-driven title song as well as the rockier ‘Halloween’ and a cover of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, despite Roxy rip-off accusations, it was a major artistic step forward as a quality timeless work embracing synths, muzak and orchestrations.

‘Quiet Life’ is still available via BMG


GARY NUMAN The Pleasure Principle

Devoid of guitar but using a flesh-and-blood rhythm section, Gary Numan realised his dream of producing a new form, machine rock. Synths were fed through guitar effects pedals to add a more sinister metallic tone and while there was sombre isolation communicated on all the songs, there was a catchy melodic sensibility to songs such as ‘Cars’, ‘Metal’, ‘Films’, ‘Engineers’ and ‘M.E.’ which turned Numan into the first synthesizer pop star.

‘The Pleasure Principle’ is still available via Beggars Banquet



Originally released on THROBBING GRISTLE’s Industrial Records, ‘The Bridge’ album saw Scottish duo Thomas Leer and Robert Rental trading vocal and instrumental duties using early affordable synths such as the EDP Wasp. Comprising of a side of five songs and a side with four ambient instrumentals, ‘Day Breaks, Night Heals’ and ‘Monochrome Days’ both showcased an avant pop sensibility. Robert Rental sadly passed away in 2000.

‘The Bridge’ is still available via Mute Artists


ROEDELIUS Selbstportrait

Best known as a member of CLUSTER with the late Dieter Moebius and working with Brian Eno on two albums, ‘Selbstportrait’ was Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ third solo long player. This was a “self-portrait” reflecting the gentle introspective ambience of the record. Something of a sister record to the 1977’s marvellous ‘Sowiesoso’, it was more accessible than CLUSTER’s own structurally minimal ‘Grosses Wasser’ also issued in 1979.

‘Selbstportrait’ is still available via Bureau B



After the ambitious double opus ‘X’ which also incorporated strings in a record comprising of “Six Musical Biographies” in honour of figures including philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and ‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert, Klaus Schulze conceived an actual album called ‘Dune’. Something of a diversion, ‘Shadows of Ignorance’ featured the eccentric poetry of Arthur Brown while the experimental ambient title track made use of cello.

‘Dune’ is still available via Bureau B


SIMPLE MINDS Real To Real Cacophony

Stronger than their debut LP ‘Life In A Day’, SIMPLE MINDS started experimenting with more electronics and a very European austere on its swift follow-up ‘Real To Real Cacophony’ with the title song presenting their take on KRAFTWERK’s ‘Radio-Activity’. Underground and pulsating through on ‘Changeling’, that breakthrough single and ‘Premonition’ really were a sign of things to come in their dark avant disco templates.

‘Real To Real Cacophony’ is still available via Virgin Records


SPARKS No1 In Heaven

Following the inspirational success of ‘I Feel Love’, SPARKS were put in contact with its producer Giorgio Moroder who had aspirations to work with a band. The resultant album saw Russell Mael’s flamboyant falsetto fitting well with the pulsing electronic disco template. ‘The No1 Song In Heaven’ hit the UK Top 20 a few months before ‘Are Friends Electric?’ while the follow-up ‘Beat The Clock’ got into the Top 10.

‘No1 In Heaven’ is still available via Lil Beethoven Records



Still feeling the void left by the departure of Pete Baumann, following the vocal experiment of ‘Cyclone’, Edgar Froese and Christopher Franke opted to retain drummer in Klaus Krüger. While there was also increased guitar and piano usage, the title song and ‘Thru Metamorphic Rocks’ utilised pulsing sequencer passages to signal the future Hollywood direction that TANGERINE DREAM would head in.

‘Force Majeure’ is still available via Virgin Records


TELEX Looking For Saint Tropez

The ethos of Belgian trio TELEX was “making something really European, different from rock, without guitar”. ‘Looking For Saint Tropez’ contained ‘Moscow Diskow’ which took the Trans-Siberian Express to Moscow by adding a funkier groove. Also included were funereal robotic covers of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ which was a UK Top40 hit and Plastic Bertrand’s ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ as well as their deadpan debut single ‘Twist A Saint Tropez’.

‘Looking For Saint Tropez’ is still available via Mute Artists



The title and the group photo on Beachy Head were tongue-in-cheek statements but THROBBING GRISTLE were still deathly uncompromising as shown by ‘Persuasion’. However, there were glints of light with the glorious cascading instrumental ‘Walkabout’ and mutant disco lento of ‘Hot On The Heels Of Love’ as Cosey Fanni Tutti’s whispered vocals competed with synthetic whip-crack and drill noises!

‘20 Jazz Funk Greats’ is still available via Mute Artists



Whereas the TUBEWAY ARMY debut featured punk tunes with added synth, ‘Replicas’ would see the Philip K Dick inspired dystopian vision of Gary Numan paired with appropriate electronic sounds as the main melodic component on the now classic UK No1 ‘Are Friends Electric?’. But the earlier singles ‘Down In The Park’ and the lengthy instrumental ‘I Nearly Married A Human’ pointed to a future guitar-free follow-up.

‘Replicas’ is still available via Beggars Banquet



Although VANGELIS had never been to China at the time the album was recorded, he had developed a passionate fascination for its people, culture and vast landscape, noting a connection between ethnic Greek and Chinese music. Using traditional elements alongside his synthesizers, the centrepieces were the majestic ‘Chung Kuo’ and the meditative pentatonic piece ‘The Tao Of Love’. ‘China’ remains an underrated record in his canon.

‘China’ is still available via Universal Music



The second and best YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album featured an embarrassment of riches.  It included the glorious Technopop of ‘Rydeen’, the mighty citypop of ‘Technopolis’, the moodier ‘Castalia’ and the Cossack romp of ‘Absolute Ego Dance’.  But it was the iconic ‘Behind The Mask’ originally composed for Seiko which was later covered by Greg Phillinganes, Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson.

‘Solid State Survivor’ is still available via Sony Music Direct


Text by Chi Ming Lai
1 January 2024

MUSIK MUSIC MUSIQUE 2.0 1981 | The Rise Of Synth Pop

1981 is the year covered by the second instalment of Cherry Red’s ‘Musik Music Musique’ series.

1980 was something of a transition year for the synth as it knocked on the door of the mainstream charts but by 1981, it was more or less let in with welcome arms. From the same team behind the ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ compendiums and the most excellent ‘Electrical Language’ boxed set, ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0 1981 – The Rise Of Synth Pop’ presents rarities alongside hits and key album tracks from what many consider the best year in music and one that contributes the most to the legacy of electronic music in its wider acceptance and impact.

Featuring HEAVEN 17  with ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang’, OMD with ‘Souvenir’ and the eponymous single by VISAGE, these songs are iconic 1981 canon that need no further discussion. Meanwhile the longevity of magnificent album tracks such as ‘Frustration’ by SOFT CELL and ‘I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)’ by ULTRAVOX can be summed by the fact that they have featured in 21st Century live sets alongside their parent acts’ hits.

Although not quite as celebrated, ‘You Were There’ from pastoral second John Foxx long player ‘The Garden’ captures the move from stark JG Ballard imagery to something almost romantic. DEVO are represented by the LinnDrum driven ‘Through Being Cool’, the opener of the ‘New Traditionalists’ album which comes as a statement that the mainstream was their next target; the Akron quintet were one of the many acts signed by Virgin Records as the label focussed on a synth focussed takeover that ultimately shaped the sonic landscape of 1981.

Then there’s TEARS FOR FEARS’ promising debut ‘Suffer The Children’ in its original synthier single recording and The Blitz Club favourite ‘Bostich’ from quirky Swiss pioneers YELLO. Another Blitz staple ‘No GDM’ from GINA X PERFORMANCE gets included despite being of 1978 vintage due to its first UK single release in 1981. The use of synth came in all sorts of shapes and FASHIØN presented a funkier take with ‘Move Øn’ while the track’s producer Zeus B Held took a more typically offbeat kosmische approach on his own ‘Cowboy On The Beach’.

Pivotal releases by JAPAN with the ‘The Art Of Parties’ (here in the more metallic ‘Tin Drum’ album version) and A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS ‘(It’s Not Me) Talking’ highlight those bands’ then-potential for mainstream success. But in the battle of the New Romantic boy bands, the sitar tinged DURAN DURAN B-side ‘Khanada’ easily blows away the SPANDAU BALLET album track ‘Reformation’ in an ominous sign as to who would crack it biggest worldwide.

The great lost band of this era, B-MOVIE issued the first of several versions of ‘Nowhere Girl’ in December 1980 on Dead Good Records and its inclusion showcases the song’s promise which was then more fully realised on the 1982 Some Bizzare single produced by the late Steve Brown although sadly, this was still not a hit.

The best and most synth flavoured pop hits from the period’s feisty females like Kim Wilde and Toyah are appropriate inclusions, as is Hazel O’Connor’s largely forgotten SPARKS homage ‘(Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up’. But the less said about racist novelty records such as ‘Japanese Boy’ by Aneka, the better… the actual nation of Japan though is correctly represented by their most notable electronic exponents YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA with ‘Cue’ from ‘BGM’, the first release to feature the Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer.

With these type of boxed sets, it’s the less familiar tracks that are always the most interesting. As the best looking member of TANGERINE DREAM, Peter Baumann had a crack at the single charts with the catchy Robert Palmer produced ‘Repeat, Repeat’ while former Gary Numan backing band DRAMATIS are represented by ‘Lady DJ’ although its epic A side ‘Ex Luna Scientia’ would have equally merited inclusion. But BEASTS IN CAGES who later became HARD CORPS stand out with the stark dystopia of ‘Sandcastles’.

The one that “should-have-been-a-pop-hit” is the ABBA-esque ‘I Can’t Hold On’ by Natasha England and it’s a shame that her career is remembered for a lame opportunistic cover of ‘Iko Iko’ rather than this, but the delightful ‘Twelfth House’ demonstrates again how under-rated Tony Mansfield’s NEW MUSIK were, and this with a B-side!

The rather fraught ‘Wonderlust’ by THE FALLOUT CLUB captures the late Trevor Herion in fine form on a Thomas Dolby produced number with a dramatic Spaghetti Western flavour that is lushly sculpted with electronics. Over a more sedate rhythm box mantra, ‘Love Moves In Strange Ways’ from BLUE ZOO swirls with a not entirely dissimilar mood.

Mute Records founder Daniel Miller was breaking through with his productions for DEPECHE MODE in 1981, but representation on ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0’ comes via the colder austere of ‘Science Fiction’ by Alan Burnham. ‘West End’ by Thomas Leer adds some jazzy freeform synth soloing to the vocal free backdrop, while ‘Surface Tension’ from ANALYSIS is an appealing instrumental.

The strangely accessible weirdness of CHRIS & COSEY’s ‘This Is Me’, MYSTERY PLANE’s ‘Something To Prove’ and the gritty ‘Brix’ from PORTION CONTROL will delight those more into the leftfield, while AK-47’s ‘Stop! Dance!’, the work of Simon Leonard (later of I START COUNTING and KOMPUTER fame) is another DIY experiment in that aesthetic vein.

Some tracks are interesting but not essential like Richard Bone’s ‘Alien Girl’ which comes over like an amusing pub singer SILICON TEENS, Johnny Warman’s appealing robopop on ‘Will You Dance With Me?’ and the synth dressed New Wave of ‘Close-Up’ by THOSE FRENCH GIRLS. For something more typically artschool, there’s the timpani laden ‘Taboos’ by THE PASSAGE and SECOND LAYER’s screechy ‘In Bits’.

More surprising is Swedish songstress Virna Lindt with her ‘Young & Hip’ which oddly combines showtune theatrics with blippy synth and ska! The set ends rather fittingly with Cherry Red’s very own EYELESS IN GAZA with the abstract atmospherics of ‘The Eyes Of Beautiful Losers’ although they too would eventually produce their own rousing synthpop statement ‘Sunbursts In’ in 1984.

Outside of the music, the booklet is a bit disappointing with the photos of OMD, TEARS FOR FEARS, HEAVEN 17, B-MOVIE and a glam-bouffanted Kim Wilde all coming from the wrong eras. And while the liner notes provide helpful information on the lesser known acts, clangers such as stating Toyah’s ‘Thunder In The Mountains’ was from the album ‘The Changeling’ when it was a standalone 45, “GONG’s Mike Hewlett” and “memorable sleeve designs by Malcolm Garrett’s Altered IMaGes” do not help those who wish to discover the origins of those accumulated gems.

But these quibbles aside, overall ‘Musik Music Musique 2.0’ is a good collection, although with fewer rare jewels compared with the first 1980 volume which perhaps points to the fact that those who had the shine to breakthrough actually did… 40 years on though, many of those hit making acts (or variations of) are still performing live in some form.

Was 1981 the most important year in synth as far becoming ubiquitous in the mainstream and hitting the top of the charts internationally? With VISAGE’s ‘Fade To Grey’ becoming a West German No1 in Spring 1981 through to SOFT CELL taking the summer topspot in the UK and culminating in THE HUMAN LEAGUE eventually taking ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ to No1 in the US, the sound of synth had done its job. Setting the scene for 1982 and 1983, further editions of ‘Musik Music Musique’ are planned.

‘Musik Music Musique 2.0 1981 – The Rise Of Synth Pop’ is released by Cherry Red on 15th October 2021 as a 3CD boxed set


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th October 2021


Whilst TANGERINE DREAM continue to forge ahead without founder member Edgar Froese, it has been intriguing to monitor how ex-members of this iconic and highly influential electronic band have developed their own solo careers and collaborate despite being part of the act at differing times.

Jerome Froese (who was a member of TD between 1990-2006) and Johannes Schmoelling (1979-1985) worked together with Robert Waters as part of LOOM and now sees a new joint venture between Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger.

Baumann was part of TANGERINE DREAM during their classic ‘Virgin Years’ period and Haslinger replaced Schmoelling in the band in 1986, staying until 1990 to help solidify their soundtrack work (‘Miracle Mile’ and ‘Near Dark’) plus the well-received Jive Electro album ‘Underwater Sunlight’.

Since leaving TANGERINE DREAM, Haslinger has continued to pursue the production of soundtrack music by scoring for a selection of film, TV and computer games including ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ and ‘Resident Evil – The Final Chapter’. Despite speculation that Peter Baumann would rejoin TD after Edgar Froese’s passing (a Facebook announcement even announced the possibility), Baumann ended up instead releasing another solo album ‘Machines of Desire’ to add to his individual canon of work which started with ‘Romance ‘76’ and ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’.

The seeds of Baumann and Haslinger’s collaboration started way back in 1991 with a promo cassette entitled ‘Blue Room’ but it’s taken until 2019 for this partnership to be solidified with the release of their eponymous double album ‘Neuland’.

For those expecting re-treads of eras that Baumann and Haslinger explored with TANGERINE DREAM, ‘Neuland’ (‘New Territory’) will come as a surprise as it shows no huge desire to revisit past glories (although there are some subtle nods). Instead it focuses more on a soundtrack-based aesthetic and also factors in Baumann’s use of live percussion which featured heavily in ‘Machines of Desire’.

Album opener ‘Cascade 39’ is one of the most backwards-looking tracks on the album with a combination of Berlin-school style sequencing and a Minimoog-styled solo weaving through most of the piece. The introduction to ‘Road to Danakill’ is an unsettling mixture of vocal samples and what sounds like an ice cream van(!) before breaking into a mixture of brass, choir and glitched/reversed electronic percussion. It’s here that Haslinger’s soundtrack credentials start to come to the fore and it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to envisage this as a theme to a Fox TV series.

‘Counting on Time’ has a very recognisable Baumann-esque theme, almost classical in conception, but combined with more warped percussion and ethereal background sweeps. The piece mutates from here eventually morphing into an entirely different beast with deep synth basses and synthetic choir melodies.

In complete contrast ‘Dream 9’ is a distant cousin of ‘Trans Europe Express’ era KRAFTWERK with mid-section clanging metallic percussion a la ‘Metal on Metal’ and Vako Orchestron-like textures spread over its seven and a half minute length. ‘Liquid Sky’ is an intriguing mixture of TANGERINE DREAM styled sounds and musical parts, with melodic elements which hint at ‘Phaedra’ or ’Rubycon’ and a middle sequencer section which recalls ‘Thru Metamorphic Rocks’ from the ‘Force Majeure’ album.

It takes nine tracks before fans of old school TD are rewarded with the piece ‘Measure 3’ where both Haslinger and Baumann let loose in a track with an improvised synth solo over a ratcheted step-sequencer bass part. Far more disciplined than the previous more unstructured tracks, ‘Measure 3’ comes as somewhat of a relief, even though it is far from a hum-along melodic piece! The remaining six pieces all have a soundtrack-aesthetic to them and veer from more unsettling soundscape based work of ‘Nautilus’ through to the euphoric/uplifting album closer ‘Longing in Motion’.

At over 80 minutes in length and completely instrumental, ‘Neuland’ will be (for most) a daunting and challenging listening proposition, but repeated listens help to reveal its charms. A single album may have been a more preferable option, but in these days of Spotify playlists it would be easy to create your own ‘highlights’ for a concise version.

Those seeking the comfort blanket of classic era TANGERINE DREAM would be better off seeking out the band’s newer material, But listeners who are in reverence of Baumann and Haslinger’s previous output will find much to love here. Ultimately ‘Neuland’ is the epic sprawling sound of a hugely influential electronic duo pushing the musical envelope and steadfastly refusing to rest on their musical laurels… new territory indeed…

‘Neuland’ is released by Proper W/S in double vinyl LP, CD and bluray and digital formats




Text by Paul Boddy
6th December 2019

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