Tangerine Dream, Optical Race

Sterile and formulaic, but it's the right kind of sterility and formula, and the album even brags about it, too: in the CD liner notes, on the other side of the flap from the die-cut cover, it proudly states it was produced on an Atari ST complete with the fuji. (No doubt Jack Tramiel didn't pay a dime for that plug, either.) Birthed in the midst of their more approachable, synth-heavy 1980s phase, they still take too long to get to it — nearly all of the first four tracks are well-produced but uninteresting — but persistence rewards you with gentle beats ("Cat Scan" and the title track), some precision melody weaving that makes the most of the algorithmic approach ("Turning Off The Wheel") and an appealing slow closer ("Ghazal (Love Song)"), even if the saccharine's a little heavy to the taste. For formulaic, sterile new age fusion you could do a lot worse. (Content: pure instrumental.)