Peter Baumann, former Tangerine Dream member and founder of New Age label Private Music, returned from musical retirement in 2016 with Machines of Desire, his first full-length in over three decades. The album was partially inspired by the death of Baumann's former bandmate Edgar Froese, whom he intended to collaborate with once more, but it also reflected a general desire to take control and create music again after a prolonged absence. The album is considerably darker than his previous solo work, especially the more light-hearted synth-pop albums he recorded during the early '80s. Machines of Desire is ominous and cinematic, combining slow, suspenseful melodies with faint rhythmic pulsations. When vocals appear, they're disguised by vocoders, so they blend into the dark fog rather than stand out. The album doesn't feel entirely dark and foreboding; "Ordinary Wonder" sounds like it could be the music for a romantic scene in a sci-fi movie, and "Crossing the Abyss," for all its spookiness, has a sense of childlike curiosity to it. The eerie "Dust to Dust" begins and ends with solemn chanting, but it has an extended middle section which is a bit more breezy. As with Baumann's prior solo records, this album drifts about, but it's not quite as experimental as his albums with Tangerine Dream. These are definitely compositions with distinct melodic themes rather than outer space explorations. A welcome return, and recommended for fans of TD's soundtrack work. ~ Paul Simpson
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