August 03, 2003

Tosca "Dehli9"

Ah, dance music. There have been some real innovators over the past few years, names that instantly earn the respect of the devoted, and Germany has produced many of them. One of the more notable groups of note has been a duo, Kruder & Dorfmeister. More known for their mixing and their sporadic singles than they are for any one hit, they are a name that holds a great deal of respect in the electronica/dance world today. Because they are not very prolific, they are a rather scarce, unknown act, and they both do a lot of work outside of the Kruder & Dorfmeister partnership. Tosca is the brainchild of Richard Dorfmeister, with the help of longtime friend and collaborator, Rupert Huber. Delhi9, their latest album, is divided into two distinct, individual parts, seperated by two disks.

The first part of Delhi9 is exactly what you'd expect from Tosca. It's mellow dance music, not too fast, yet not too slow. At times, it borders on easy listening or jazz; the beat is never intense; it's just great music for lounging with a smooth, stiff drink. We're talking about a danceable version of lounge music. Rave music? Hardly. Easy listening for the post-ecstacy set? Exactly. Though the duo's work together is strictly instrumental, they do employ several guest vocalists, which range from the detached Anna Clements' 'lyrics' (just the same line repeated for several minutes) on "Me & Yoko Ono," and "Oscar," Earl Zinger's britpop-flavored singing on "Wonderful," to the toasting of Tweed on "Gute Lounge," the vocals serve as nothing more than extra flavoring to some really wonderful dance beats. All of this first disc flows together quite naturally, with a really laid-back vibe that cannot be beat. It's like a summer night at Ibiza, sans the drugs and sex and violence.

The second part of Delhi9 is totally opposite than the first. Where the first part of the album is a warm, upbeat Saturday night of a record, part two is a cold, dreary, hungover Sunday morning of a record. Instead of the warm tones of the first set, this disc is based off of Rupert Huber's own composition, "12 Easy To Play Piano Pieces." Instead of dance beats and warm rhythms, you're given ambient sounds that occasionally drift into New Age. Some of the pieces sound like a second-rate Brian Eno imitation, and others sound like a brilliant continuation of Harold Budd's ideas. This disc is a pleasant enough listen, but it's not exactly original, nor does it leave much of an impression. It's worth noting, though, that the piano touches on this disc do pop up on the first disc, on songs such as "Mango di Bango."

While Kruder & Dorfmeister may be a sporadic project, it's good to know that Dorfmeister's brilliance continues in other formats. Delhi9 is a lovely, brilliant record, full of soothing, mellow yet dancefloor-ready moments. A lovely collection of songs from one of the dance world's most respected talents, Delhi9 never gives itself over to painful pretension or difficult soundscapes--and that includes the difficult, downbeat second disc. A true pleasure from beginning to end.

--Joseph Kyle

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