Tobias: A Series Of Shocks (CD, Ostgut Ton, March 2014)

A friend walked in while I was playing the first track of this, and asked me whether it was Steve Reich. He has a point: the opening number is a pretty obvious tribute (although a synthy backing comes in towards the end which I don’t think he’d go for). Elsewhere on the record, we have: a sort of ambient techno which wouldn’t have been out of place on one of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence releases; a sort of acid techno with an echoey vocal which somehow reminds me of one of Underworld’s more restrained efforts; a sort of dark minimal which has more than a hint of Plastikman about it; and so on. So here’s the obvious criticism (it’s one that I’ve made about techno long-players before, and probably will again): with such a range of styles, this doesn’t really hold together as an album, and I can’t listen to it without a part of my brain distracted by the game of spot-the-influences (“hmm, that’s quite B12, that bit…” etc.). It definitely lives up to the Series part of its title — as far as the Shocks go, about the biggest shock is that someone managed to release something so very mid-’90s in 2014 (along with the inevitable realization that that really was 20 years ago, sigh). Having said all of which, I kind of like this record anyway. The thing is, he really does do a pretty good job of making good, proper techno music, whichever style he’s using… he really inhabits each role he plays, rather than just trying on a series of costumes. And as for the mid-’90s thing, well, it’s actually quite refreshing to hear something which is (to my ear, anyway) untouched by the influence of dubstep (and I’m sure my bassbins feel the same way).

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Techno / House.

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