A welcomed haunting
Neuland, formed by the duo Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger (previously of the band Tangerine Dream), have released their debut, self-titled record. The record is a slow-burning project, featuring atmospheric soundscapes that eventually turn into crescendoing finales. Neuland’s ominous synthesizers, eclectic percussion and ambitiously moody sound make it a stand out debut, as it is clear that Neuland is pioneering a new sound of electronica.
Similar to Tangerine Dream, Neuland has cinematic tendencies. Haunting, elongated songs slide into the next, only to be interrupted by evocative, warped synthesizers and pulsing drums. This is heard in the transition between the opening tracks, “Cascade 39” into “The Road to Danakil.” As the melancholy synth scape of “Cascade 39” slides into droning percussion and distorted bass on “The Road to Danakil,” Neuland has a nuanced way of balancing their introspective sound with a malicious, driving force continued throughout the record.
“The Lost Cord” is also an especially notable cut from the record. Warm synth pads swell into an electric bass line that pierces through Neuland’s gloomy sound and brings welcomed energy to the project. The song takes elements of rock and perfectly balances it with the ambiance prevalent throughout the entire record. The synth leads reminiscent of electric guitars and throbbing percussion separate “The Lost Cord” as a striking track in a predominantly atmospheric record.
While Neuland’s sound is groundbreaking, the record overextends itself. Reaching almost an hour and a half run-time, the continuous ebb and flow of the record devalues some of the more distinguishable songs from the project. “Voices from the Past, and “54_Novo” are forgettable when played after tracks like “Measure 3” or “Moons Ago,” and don’t seem to contribute much to Neuland’s debut, serving only as extended, transitional moments into more memorable songs.
Neuland, directly translated to “new territory,” accomplishes its mission of exploration. It transcends generic genre labels, and encompasses elements of ambient electronica, progressive rock and cinematic film scores to erect a both unsettling and extraordinary record. It isn’t a record suited for relaxation or group settings, departing from Tangerine Dream’s approach-ability, but Neuland’s lingering debut is thought-provoking and displays timelessness that other contemporary artists lack.