More so than any of his contemporaries in the Morr Music family, unless you count The Notwist’s transition from grungy rock to IDM pop, Bernard Fleischmann has undergone a remarkable transformation since his earliest work. On albums such as Pop Loops for Breakfast and Welcome, Tourist, Fleischmann took on an instrumental, ambient/glitch aesthetic, fitting with Morr’s IDM beat fascination, but not so much its tradition of pristine pop songwriting. With 2006’s The Humbucking Coil, however, that began to change, as Fleischmann began adding vocals and hooks, lending his work a greater accessibility, coming closer to `pop’ music than ever before.
On 2008’s Angst Is Not a Weltanschauung!, Fleischmann continues along this path, though in a remarkably somber manner. Having lost someone close to him between the release of this and his previous album, Fleischmann creates an album of a darker tone, often producing dirge-like material such as “In Trains.” That particular song is murky, heavy in distorted organ and slow, plodding, funereal atmosphere. It’s a bit of a depressing listen, particularly after the upbeat quirk of “Last Time We Met At a T&TT Concert.” Nonetheless, there are warmer, friendlier moments, as in leadoff track “Hello,” in which vocalist `Sweet William Van Ghost’ sings “hello microphone/ hello voice,” as he introduces the album.
“Still See You Smile” is one of two tracks in which Fleischmann, himself, sings, and is one of the more genuinely touching songs here, as is Fleischmann’s reworking of Daniel Johnston’s “King Kong,” using the original’s vocals, yet with a completely new, and gorgeous, backing arrangement. The energetic “The Market” is an upbeat return to melodic IDM, which serves as a welcome respite from some of the more downbeat, autumnal tracks here, as does the hyperactive, aptly titled “Playtime.” And closing track “Even Your Glasses Miss Your Eyes” is a beautifully fuzzy denouement, paying tribute to Fleischmann’s fallen friend, and possibly inspiring the album’s artwork as well.
Fleischmann’s work on Angst Is Not a Weltanschauung! is not his most vibrant or bright, but certainly his most emotionally resonant. There is pain on this album, as well as great joy, but most of all, it’s an album that’s incredibly human. For every skip of a mechanized beat, there’s a living, breathing artist there to pull the strings.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.