There haven’t been that many electronic releases this year that have really caught my ear. I was honestly a little bummed about that. However, I started seeing ads for this new project called Neuland, and just something about the darkness and the artwork instantly sold me. Neuland released their titular debut on November 22nd, and it is certainly an album in which you can truly lose yourself.
Neuland is comprised of Peter Baumann, original member of Tangerine Dream during the ‘70s, and Paul Haslinger, member of Tangerine Dream from 1985-1990. Thus, this project is staffed by veterans of the genre. You can hear that experience in every minute detail.
This is progressive electronic/ambient, and is thus all about the sensory experience. The music flows richly, yet mysteriously, oozing atmosphere and preaching texture. Sometimes, you’ll hear grooves and beats, other times you will be cast to the unpredictable winds of spontaneity and restless whim. As far as progressive electronic goes, this album is particularly held together with punchy notes, glassy synth, icy ambiance, and perilous composition. All of it somehow feels simultaneously relaxing and daring.
One thing I find interesting about this album is how the band can create songs that have the feeling of various other genres. Some songs feel like the nostalgic flow of progressive electronic, but some of the songs feel like a deconstructed version of rock, folk, dance, etc. This is a bit bewildering, but also provides a touchstone as you experience the power and unpredictability of the rest of the composition. So, yes, you’ll hear songs that might remind you of Tangerine Dream or Vangelis’ Blade Runner, but you will also hear songs that feel completely fresh, newly conceived, and existing in another part of the universe than you might expect.
Neuland’s debut visits all sorts of dimensions of existence and feeling. It is like a journey through star fields as much as it is a courageous voyage into the mind. No matter which way you look at it, the music will give you goosebumps as your senses are stretched and engaged.
I have several favorites on the album, as there are fifteen tracks overall. “Cascade 39” starts the album beautifully. It has perhaps the most actual beat of any song on the album, and the frigid atmosphere is only pierced by the conversational synth that seems to be alive and breathing. “Road to Danakil” feels darker and perhaps more cyberpunk. It splashes and hums in a very satisfying way. “Counting on Time” really draws you in with an atmosphere of invitation and anticipation. It chirps mysteriously until it breaks wide open into pure feeling.
“Measure 3” feels hazy at first, but a strong, searing synth breaks through the fog into some truly fantastic musings. “The Long Now” feels like it is underwater at points, with huge bloops of watery synth and a hanging atmosphere that completely immerses your mind. “Moons Ago” is what I think of when I think of progressive electronic. It has all the musing synth, burgeoning feelings, and emotional dichotomy that you could ever want. I honestly could go on and on about the various other tracks, but I think the ones I have mentioned are a good introduction to what you can expect.
Neuland’s debut is a transcendent experience. You will have many different pictures aroused in your mind by the variety and quality of the music here. This album offers music that is haunting, interdimensional, and unnervingly close. It will take your thoughts away to faraway places, but also raise the hairs on your neck with its proximity. I am excited to see where these veterans take their sounds next.
Find Neuland online: