B. Fleischmann

Stop Making Fans

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Bernhard Fleischmann's solo recordings have ranged from glitchy IDM instrumentals with post-rock guitars to longform electro-acoustic works recorded live in concert with guest musicians. His albums for Berlin's Morr Music have progressively placed more of an emphasis on songcraft, and 2012's I'm Not Ready for the Grave Yet was an emotionally heavy set of contemplations about life, death, and existence, with Fleischmann's singing appearing along with spoken samples. Its follow-up, Stop Making Fans, is longer and more ambitious, with songs that are often cynical, wry, and a bit paranoid, but nevertheless catchy. This seems entirely fitting for an album whose title is a few keystrokes away from Stop Making Sense, and happens to include a song called "We've Heard the Talking Heads Talking." While Fleischmann's voice isn't anywhere near as agitated as David Byrne's, he still expresses a great deal of anxiety with his lyrics. Opener "Here Comes the 'A' Train" has a relaxed tempo, but Fleischmann bitterly remarks "A hundred times I've been told/My rhymes are too old." A few songs are a bit more aggressive, such as the bleepy, breezy indie-techno of "You're the Spring," or the complex "Wakey Wakey," which somehow succeeds in merging fast, footwork-like beats with chiming, knotty guitars which seem like they could've been sampled from a brainy indie rock group such as American Football. While songs like "There Is a Head" and the album's festive title track (which even features a mouth harp!) are both playful yet tense, "It's Not Enough" gets lost in the pleasure of dancing, seemingly as a way to forget troubles. Fleischmann and guest Gloria Amesbauer (who appears on two additional songs) repeat the song's title over a simmering disco groove, and eventually Fleischmann's Bernard Sumner-esque voice gets elevated thanks to a cloud of swirling, trippy echo. The album seems to be an extended reflection on the inner conflict between commercialism and artistic freedom, so it's appropriate that the music experiments with a wide array of styles while remaining accessible.

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