duo505: Late
Morr Music

The expanded scope of B. Fleischmann's previous release, the two-disc Welcome Tourist, and especially its bold forty-five minute travelogue “Take Your Time,” suggested that Morr's inaugural recording artist was restless, intent on checking out possible new directions. duo505, a collaboration with the classically trained multi-instrumentalist Herbert Weixelbaum from Vienna, now offers Fleischmann a further opportunity to experiment. Their pairing came about circuitously, in fact midwifed by Wolfgang Kopper who brought the two together at an annual street festival (“Gürtel Nightwalk”) in Vienna where they jammed with their Grooveboxes, or, as it's formally known, Roland's MC-505—hence the group name. (The MC-505, Roland's successor to its MC-303, offers a huge assortment of synth and drum sounds.) Simpatico in spirit, the two embarked on recording Late, with one creating the main track and the other completing it; Fleischmann's credited with four songs and Weixelbaum three but their styles largely mesh, making for an overall consistent sound. If there's one thing that individuates them, it's Weixelbaum's greater incorporation of Game Boy-like sounds (the joyous nursery rhyme melody in “wenig” and the electro Game Boy interweave in “nochwas”); one track he even titles “lsdj08,” presumably an acronym for “Little Sound Dj” (a site dedicated to legitimizing the Game Boy as a full-fledged music workstation), and the song's bouncy bingo-ball patterns align with that presumption.

Fleischmann's usual fusion of organic acoustic elements and lo-fi electronics and restrained melancholy style is largely tabled for duo505's brighter attack. That customary feel surfaces, however, in “facing it” with a melancholy piano theme that moves the song into familiar Morr territory. He lifts the plucked guitar opening from Welcome Tourist's “Guided By Beats” for “toru okada,” the title perhaps an homage to the protagonist of Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or maybe to the band of the same name. The song offers one distinct change in Fleischmann's style when its fuzzy electronics suddenly transform into wailing shoegaze, its drums and other instruments buried under a massive tornado of distorted blur until it vanishes like a cloud of smoke. The closer “disko+bett” likewise smothers its skipping beats and bleeping synths in a shoegazing blur.

In general, the group's euphoric sound is noisier compared to Fleischmann's previous releases. Aggressive beats and organ tones open “tsip tsap” (the title referring to the “tsip tsap” call of the tiny Chiffchaff warbler, or perhaps genetics-based TSAP and TSIP acronyms that stand for “tumor suppressor activated pathway” and “tumor suppressor inhibited pathway”) in familiar manner but, from the midpoint on, the duo's machines explode with showers of lo-fi electronics that grow ever denser until the piece expires in a cacophonous blur; similarly, the whirring machines and anthemic sing-song melodies in “nochwas” generate a joyous, blurry racket. Late is a good enough outing for the duo and it's refreshing to find Fleischmann's customary restraint retired for a more animated and rocking delivery. But its predominant up-tempo focus also means that it omits the deeper dimension that more subdued melancholy material imparts. It's a pleasant diversion, then, but one that lacks the stronger and more encompassing emotional resonance of other Fleischmann releases.

September 2004