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Dexter + Franz — Flamingo Heights
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-10-22

Flamingo Heights Cover art

Dexter + Franz is the duo of California-based film and television composer John Dexter Marston and Chicago based producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Franz Novak. During the summer of 2022 the duo relocated to a house in California’s high desert with a truck full of analog synthesizers, guitars, tape machines, and rhythm boxes in order to create what was destined to become Flamingo Heights, the duo’s debut album. The resulting ten tracks represent a brilliant convergence of the various influences that brought them both to this point in their respective careers — 80s ambient sounds, psychedelic and soundtrack era Pink Floyd, 70s Krautrock that might well include Cluster, Kraftwerk, Harmonia and the like, and more. Joining them in this endeavor are drummer and percussionist Justin Peters plus several additional musicians on this track or that playing Moog Model D, bass, saxophones, and pedal steel. Opening the set with “Reel Breezy,” an ambient-dominated piece for multiple synths, guitar, and sampled sounds of birds and whatnot, setting the stage for all that comes after; later in the set we encounter “Reel Breezy Reprise,” a more dense version of the opener with incisive guitars, pedal steel, and curious percussives. “Flamingo Heights,” named after that town in the high desert where most of this collaboration came together, pulls in some strong evidence of the Cluster / Harmonia influences, with an interesting repeating electronic loop at its core, over which cascading synths, zithers, and other sounds pass by near and in the distance. “Nightshade” begins with a gentle acoustic guitar figure and hand drums and builds up from there with ambient synths and pedal steel. Beginning with acoustic guitar, bells and drums, “Cermack Run” brings in some splendid synth overlays and electric guitar to bring it all home. With the slow paced “Plant Talkers,” the drums and bass create a backbone for layers of synth effects and pedal steel, culminating with a beautiful sax solo near the end of the piece. If I haven’t mentioned the vocals yet, that’s because there aren’t any, Flamingo Heights is a fully immersive instrumental experience.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Dexter + Franz

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