It seems unfitting that the new Tobias album is entitled “A Series Of Shocks” The album is not a revelation. It’s certainly not shocking and has few surprises hidden in its ten tracks. This album is about style. It simply, elegantly and precisely lays out the sound of Tobias in all its glory.
The album shares much of the sound palette of recent outings on Ostgut Ton particularly the Function album of last year which Freund helped bring to fruition in his capacity as studio engineer extraordinaire. Unlike Function’s aforementioned debut Freund manages to weave the familiar textures of classic drum machines and elastic synth lines into something deeper and more texturally rich. Tracks such as “Heartbeat”, “If” and “The Scheme of Things” shimmer and weave their way through the Techno tropes without ever giving you a chance to yawn. Such is Freund’s skill that despite the undoubted familiarity of the sound and melodies you’re more than willing to let them wash over and entrance you.
The musicality of the album is refreshing. Rather than a few token nods to beatless synth excursions and self indulgent knob twiddling, Tobias manages to weave a consistent musical narrative that gives a real sense of intention and purpose to the record. The repetitive synth based opener “Entire” begins the musical statement which threads its way through tracks such as “Ya Po”, “Cursor Item Only” and “Fast Null” to great effect. The central musical direction and inventive melodic content is the biggest achievement here for Freund, it would seem much harder for him to be pigeonholed as a button pushing studio master now. Far from it, the meticulous detail and singular direction see a true artistic statement, far more compelling than most Techno long players. Even admittedly weaker tracks such as acid workout “instant” when combined with the subtle pads and stabs littered across the whole record sound revitalized and exude a timeless quality.
Perhaps the only yearn after hearing the record is to have had more time for Freund to experiment further with the purely musical elements. “Entire” is one of the sure highlights of the album and its majesty and regal tone are totally irresistible. Tobias sounds like an apprentice Terry Riley here and perhaps a longer running time might have enabled a few more of these experiments.
In essence the album makes the case for the ‘Ostgut’ sound better than most of the LPs over the last year or so. Its maturity and rock solid stylistic direction is without fault and does what most Techno LPs aspire to do, sound fucking fantastic as an extended listen without absolutely any doubt that it will be spellbinding and chest pounding on any decent dance floor.
‘A Series Of Shocks’ is out now on Ostgut Ton. Buy it here.