I've only heard a couple other tracks from B. Fleischmann before diving into the epic release that is Welcome Tourist, but based on the simple comparison of those few pieces to this, I can say that Welcome Tourist is easily his most accomplished work to date. It's not only the length of the work (almost 100 minutes stretched out over 2 CDs), but the depth of the compositions themselves and the instrumentation involved. Where much of his past work is similar to much of the loop-based, pretty melodic IDM that has saturated the market the past couple years, this newest release feels almost like a small ensemble at times.
Another slight difference is that this is some of the first work of Fleischmann's to include vocals (yeah, everyone's doing it these days). In fact, disc one opens with "02/00," a track that pulses along with a simple low-end kick and spluttering electronics while absolutely gorgeous melodies unfurl around it all and a pretty piano melody punctuates all the right moments. Making a subtle political statement, Fleishmann includes a German-language reading of an excert from Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." Piano actually seems to be the instrument that Fleischmann uses to best effect on the release, as the crystaline notes shine through even on the tracks where his infatuation with noise and static seems to creep more into the forefront.
"Pass By" is all repeating basslines and squelched static while a pretty piano melody keeps things from getting too stale while the short "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" is a slow, short builder of layered vibraphone, piano, and subtle noise that is easily one of the most pretty things on the release. While there are a few spots on the first disc that could have used a smidge more editing (the longer pieces fall into a sort of loop-heavy routine at points), most of the disc works pretty well. The vocals in "Le Desir" and "Sleep" feel a bit forced at first listen, but their rather rough qualities actually turn into charming points for the tracks after that.
Having said that the first disc could have used a bit of editing might seem a bit silly given my praise of the 1-track, 45-minute second disc (filled with a single track "Take Your Time"), but it's this long piece that seems to take all the best elements that Fleischmann uses on the release and pulls them together into one slowly-evolving piece that I can't get enough of. Opening with a radio hum noise and chopped-up vocals, a guitar melody slowly comes into focus alongside a clicky rhythm. Eventually, a piano and upright bass come in, while reverbed slide guitar plays a sad lament alongside it. Throughout the song, instrumental motifs come together and fall apart, as vibraphones, pianos, guitars, horns, manipulated noise, and found-sound samples that Fleischmann recorded while travelling all filter into the mix. Themes reoccurr, stories are told and re-told from different viewpoints, and the whole thing pushes you away just slightly while pulling you back again and again. The closing section of cut-up piano, guitar, and quiet swarming noise under whispered vocals is absolutely stunning after the long journey through the rest of the disc.
As you may be able to guess from the above, it's the long composition on the second disc that actually does more for me on this 2CD effort. It runs the gamut of emotions from frail to uplifting to introspective and reflective, but there's something almost magnetic about it that is far beyond anything that Fleischmann has done to date. While there are great tracks on the first disc, the music itself, as well as the message of "Take Your Time" is the one that I've been drawn to. Fans of his other work may find themselves a bit surprised with some of the work within, but those who sit down with it for awhile will find themselves drawn in.