B. Fleischmann Welcome Tourist

[Morr Music; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: ambient techno
Others: Color Filter, Isan, Bola, Howie B, M83, Four Tet

Boy does this artist ever outdo himself on this release. Unlike Rumpistol's debut, this is an electronic artist who not only knows how to make downtempo titillate, but fairly stun the listener with its textural shifts and build-ups. I can't begin to praise this recording enough. It's near-perfect, and I wish I didn't have to waste 200-some words blabbing about it when I should just play it for you and let it speak for itself. But that would be lazy music writing, wouldn't it.

But the best recordings defy review, and amateurs like me are left flabbergasted at their own lack of talent. Not that I feel superior to the artists I trash. At least they're trying. I'm so lazy I can't compose a suitably fine-tuned piece about a record that more than deserves the effort of one lowly college kid. Bernard Fleischmann makes electronic compositions that, while not without their peer touchstones, wrap you in evolutions so intricate and serene that it doesn't matter who they recall. Like M83, the melodic tone is largely one of ecstatic elegy. Aural ruminations on the release into the infinite, these songs keep the same sort of warm, soothing beats mixed with jarring noise washes type of vigil. Unlike M83, though, B. Fleischmann allows us to go deeper into sound collage than we ever could've hoped on a recording this accessible.

"Pass By" is a highlight, using static flanging in the artists characteristically adept fashion, making the simple piano progression glisten to a point where you just want to sit on a bus or a train and look out the window, forever a passenger. He pushes your "warm sounds" buttons splendidly while simultaneously tweaking your expectations. Just when you think a track is going to be another hum-drum downtempo exercise, something will come to the surface to give the track the necessary depth it needs to become exceptional. We don't need to hear B. Fleischmann's voice ("Sleep") since the songs are complete enough on their own; and his lyrics are as hokey as they come, but they don't ruin the tune. 

Disc two contains one 45 minute track called "Take Your Time," and I suppose it serves as a sort of free-form playground for the artist to roam with less of a boundary. It begins its first couple minutes with a buzzing and cut up speaking voice before ushering in a breezy guitar figure. There are many false percussive starts as the figure laps plaintively, before a dramatic, stately two-chord piano figure is added and the guitar lessens in frequency. The beat decides to make its official arrival with the piano and not the guitar, with a synth squiggle similar to the one in Gastr Del Sol's "Blues Subtitled No Sense of Wonder" comes in. Eventually a slide guitar comes in and we're only at the seven minute mark. The repeating noises are adjusted in various ways before falling out to let the more musical elements take over for what sounds like the beginning of a Coldplay song. Don't let that scare you, though; without the vocals, a lot of bands like Coldplay might be considerably more tolerable, if a bit uninteresting. Definitely not in this case though. Although I prefer the other disc, this great big track is a tantalizingly rewarding listen.

Welcome Tourist deserves to be on a gajillion year-end lists, but that's not so important. Just go buy this disc if you think experimental is a cold, unfriendly word. And buy it if you don't. You can't go wrong here.  

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