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Peter Baumann - Trans Harmonic Nights CD (album) cover

TRANS HARMONIC NIGHTS

Peter Baumann

 

Progressive Electronic

2.86 | 19 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars The second solo album by ex-TANGERINE DREAMer Peter Baumann was a transitional effort, moving away from the homegrown minimalism of his 1976 debut toward something closer to the more lucrative techno-pop territory of Jean-Michel Jarre. And that, in an electronic nutshell, points to the album's biggest shortcoming. Once a pioneer, Baumann was here cast in the role of an imitator, following a well-worn path already successfully blazed by too many others (Jarre, Vangelis, take your pick).

To his credit, he wasn't the only electronic musician looking for a shortcut out of the art rock ghetto at the end of the 1970s. Listen to "Meridian Moorland", the closest thing here to the sci-fi spirit of classic Tangerine Dream, and not only because the title recalls the likeminded alliteration of "Madrigal Meridian", released a year earlier on the TD album "Cyclone". Both tracks (indeed both albums) share an almost identical high-tech pedigree, but on his own Baumann had trouble sustaining the same level of invention as his erstwhile bandmates, who not coincidentally were at the same time wrestling with their own commercial demons.

A couple of other tracks stand out: the haunting album opener "This Day", and the jaunty vocoder melody of "Biking Up the Strand". But elsewhere the lush electronic veneer isn't enough to hide the almost childish lack of sophistication in the music itself. Programming the synthesizers to ape the fuzz of an electric guitar, or adding some genuine acoustic percussion (mostly floor toms, enthusiastically bashed), may have rendered the album more accessible, but in the long run also robbed it of any lasting interest beyond the strictly nostalgic appeal of all those analog keyboards and sequencers.

Electric music had come a long way in the few short years since Baumann first put his signature touch on the unearthly cosmic drones of early Tangerine Dream albums like "Atem" and "Zeit". But by the end of the decade he must have realized he was painting himself into an aesthetic cul-de-sac with such lightweight material as this (the cover portrait on his 1981 album "Repeat Repeat" even shows an unfortunate resemblance to New Wave one-hit wonder Gary Numan).

Wisely, he would soon direct his talents toward successfully managing his own record label. Perhaps this album is best regarded today as a now somewhat dog-eared calling card for his new career at the time.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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