While still a member of Tangerine Dream, Peter Baumann released his first solo album, Romance '76. It's not far removed from the music that TD was making at the time -- in fact, references to Rubycon, Ricochet, and Stratosfear pop up in various places -- but Baumann's arrangements have an added clarity and directness. On a song like "Phase by Phase," the results can seem circumspect, and too much open space allows the listener's attention to seep out through the cracks. But the rest of the record finds Baumann expertly controlling what he wants the listener to hear. For example, "Romance" introduces new sounds carefully and for calculated effect, a style that would reappear on the Baumann-produced Grosses Wasser by Cluster. This and the opening "Bicentennial Present" are remarkably accessible for electronic music from the '70s -- the latter especially feels like the best parts of "Stratosfear" distilled -- but never at the expense of sounding trite. Baumann shows off different styles of electronic music on the first three tracks, only to challenge the listener's expectations all over again with the semi-classical "Meadow of Infinity." Mixing orchestral instruments (cellos, human voices, percussion) and electronics, the composer creates a tone poem using only the sounds he needs to describe the action. In many ways, "Meadow of Infinity" (along with "The Glass Bridge," which connects the two parts) transcends what Tangerine Dream was able to do, taking greater control over the listener's journey from point A to B by eliminating extraneous sounds. Of course, listeners won't be surprised that Romance '76 is less cluttered than a Tangerine Dream album from this period, but that it produces the same effect without the sequencers and layers of synthesizers is a minor revelation. Definitely a good choice for TD fans who want to broaden their horizons without getting suckered into 30 minutes of hum or Euro-disco.
AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly