B. Fleischmann

Welcome Tourist

(Morr Music; 2003)

By Scott Reid | 3 November 2003

"Yes we have dreams and we want them to come true yes we will live for these moments, me and you/ There's more to life than the every day routine/ keep this in mind 'til life becomes your dream/ Did you ever think of a song to sing that would bring equality did you ever think to cross the Nile on a little hollow tree/ did you ever picture the Americas and how the poor could get more wealthy/ did you ever picture that the single one could change the world" -B. Fleischmann, "Le Desir."

OK, now with that out of the way, lets get one thing clear: Christof Kurzmann should never have graced the first section of this double-record. More importantly, he shouldn't be allowed to dump such "the more you know!"/Hallmark/"you can be what you want, kid, just believe in yourself"/reach for the stars/third grade poetry-ish lyrics at the end of some of the most captivating IDM-influenced ambient music I've heard all year, courtesy of Fleichmann. The album's first nine tracks are just that --beautiful mixtures of IDM programming and ambient soundscapes that vary from glitch-centric tracks like "02/00" or "Grunt" to full-band works like "A Letter From Home," the kind of track I was hoping Do Make Say Think would have churned out on Winter Hymn. "Take Your Time," which takes up the entirety of the second disc, manages to take the stylistic form of the first and focus it into a forty-five minute epic.

Back to where I was. By the time we actually get to the final two tracks of the first disc, the album undergoes a number of changes but none of which act to ruin the flow or consistency as a whole. Welcome Tourist regularly fluctuates between repetitive ambient drones, IDM programming and faint forms of noise before taking a stylistic turn with "A Letter From Home" and then completely forfeiting any sort of continuity with the "why do these even exist" vocal tracks, "Le Desir" and "Sleep." Though "Sleep" is far easier to swallow (the lyrics and melody are both vastly superior to "Le Desir"), it remains no less a sore thumb at the end of an album that had already found perfect closure (in which to lead into the monstruous second disc, which I'll look at later). It would've been confusing if any tracks had followed the perfected form of "A Letter From Home," let alone such poor attempts at vocal crossover.

"02/00" opens the album with a style eerily similar to the opening minutes of A Choir of Bed's closing track, "Goodbye," the glitch production providing a stirring atmosphere to the sparse underlying piano --something accomplished to ever greater effect just a track later with "Pass By." Waves of synths blend in and out to mimic a vocal melody that never appears and though the first time I heard the track I contemplated how great it would probably work with an actual voice, I'm going to opt for a "no" after knowing that he'd probably let Christof take that one, too.

The middle section of the first disc takes on a somber and pastoral ambient route and though "The Blessed" temporarily gives the album a much needed shot in the arm, it is the more traditional ambient material that he is able to pull of with impressive skill. "As If," sounding like it came directly from Eluvium's Lambent Material, would be the album's most affecting track if it weren't for the aforementioned "A Letter From Home." Both tracks are constructed with meticulous detail to atmosphere and timbre, the production coming off as stark and beautiful as the actual interplay of piano, synths, feedback and, in the case of "Home," a saxophone (only adding to the brilliant Do Make Say Think/jazz feel of its incredible climax and are courtesy of Christof, as well).

If the second disc wasn't even to included as a part of Welcome Tourist, the stunted momentum of the album would be even more frustrating. Thankfully, the forty-five minute opus that fills the entirety of the second disc, "Take Your Time," goes far beyond the kind of ambition that is portrayed (or even promised) on the first side. Pushing his limits as an arranger and producer, Fleischmann utilizes the same intense focus on meticulous detail that made the first half so vibrant and incorporates a similar style of manipulating subtle variations of a single theme. At times the repetitious quality grows tiring, though Fleischmann, like any great or seasoned producer, manages to introduce numerous elements to push the song continually forward without destroying the atmosphere or timbre of its whole.

Christof's vocals actually compliment the development well instead of taking it over and ruining it like he did with "Le Desir." Which I hate to keep going back to, but when a single song sticks out as trash amongst about 90 minutes of confusingly superior and far more ambitious material, it tends to be...memorable, to say the least. Still it shouldn't let me seem angered at an album I've come to love so much, not when the album has so much promising material to confirm its minor downfall as a fluke and, thankfully, not the other way around.