For fans of Tape Fleming, they will hear all of what he does. A multi-dimensional, positively celestial, and a shape-shifting pastiche of blissful melodies, heavenly harmonies, female background vocals, and orchestral flourishes, the expansive, nearly impossible scope of Gloom Balloon’s recordings go head to head on Bergman with more personal prose than ever before.
The sounds are festive, but they are masking solitude.
Bergman, the follow-up to 2017’s Drying the Eyes of the Goddess of Gloom, Underneath the Stars and the Moon, arrives unexpectedly for Tape Fleming. At the time of that album’s release, he told the Des Moines Register that he would likely be stepping away from music to concentrate on family life.
That was three summers ago, and while Bergman isn’t Tape Fleming’s Blood On The Tracks, Dylan does appear on the cover (along with 41 other stars!) Hence, a break-up story isn’t far-fetched.
Keeping it brief, Tape Fleming says, “I have always been an autobiographical songwriter and this album is no different. It definitely shows on the record that it’s about a guy trying to find his way.”
In other words, he had to make this one.
On the nearly six-minute epic “Credits Roll Up, Tears Run Down, Your Love is Like the Sound of the Rain Hitting the Ground,” Tape Fleming breaks your heart by letting you into his: “I know what it feels like to put my arms around you. But I don’t know what it feels like to make it last.”
“Music has always been my way of explaining and dealing with feelings,” he says. “So that’s a reason for all of the music references and homages.”
True. In addition to the brain game songwriters hall of fame cover art, Tape Fleming’s knowledge of modern music history makes for a fun game in the grooves, too.
“Most of the songs have references to song lyrics or the musicians that made them,” he says. “From ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks to ‘Waterloo’ by ABBA, and the lyric, “All Liz Phair in love and war when you fuck and run,” in the song “All Is Phair”.
“Long Distance Love (Waterloo Sunset)” is in fact the album’s first single, a funkier, more optimistic version of the tonal lament that is the song’s companion piece ‘Long Distance Love (Waterloo Sunrise),’ which appears earlier in the album.
Tape Fleming sings, “Long distance love is not the worst. But it always makes a young lover’s heart feel like it’s going burst.”
With the tune coming late in the record, it kind of saves the day and reminds that balloon follows gloom and not the other way around.