chneider TM, Dirk Dresselhaus, is a builder. He takes small, insignificant sounds and builds them up until they resemble something useful for his purposes. Usually this is a rhythm or a melody. Sometime he’ll just throw a collection of sounds into a song as a counterpoint to the flow of the song, disrupting the forward momentum of the track enough to make sure that a sense of comfort is never really gained in listening to any of his music. Alternately, Dresselhaus is a craftsman. He fashions the elements of the song into a pallet that resembles pop songs, but not quite. It is this that element that makes Dresselhaus pretty easily definable as a purveyor of quirky pop. This is a league rife with brilliant successes- Beck and Cornelius to name two. It’s also rife with failure. Moses Leroy, Schneider TM, etc.
Yes, Schneider TM’s new album, for the most part, is a failure. Here’s why:
The lyrics: As Beck has proven, it’s more than possible to get away with having surreal lyrics. The beauty contained within Beck’s lyrics, however, is that their surrealness is contained within a careful continuum in which the lyrics play off one another both rhythmically and melodically. In Dresselhaus’ case, he has the melody down pat. His voice sounds eerily similar to Beck’s voice when it is not digitally effected in anyway. But the melodic interplay and rhythmic variations are not present. Instead we have a bland rendering of exactly what we might expect, containing lyrics that alternate between the banal and coherent and the banal and incoherent.
The music: There are a couple of standout tracks on this album- the first two specifically. The elements that Dresselhaus uses on these songs are unremarkable, in comparison to the rest of the album, but the combination of them is distinctive and pleasing. However, later on the album, the quirkiness of skittering rhythms and digital melodic lines becomes mundane and tiresome. It is the initial quirkiness of an electronic Beck or an IDM Cornelius that is of great interest, but eventually the novelty of this dies out- and the songs unfortunately do not pick up the slack.
All in all, Dresselhaus has created an album here that is capable and contains a number of interesting ideas. Unfortunately, the key to a pop song is how long the songs remain in your head after hearing them on one listen. It can safely be said that Dresselhaus has nothing to learn about the instruments of technology, but a lot to learn about the ability to write a catchy tune.