Album Review: TOSCA – ‘Going, Going, Going’

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Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber are the duo of TOSCA – formed over two decades ago in Vienna. Now, twenty years have passed since their first album Opera, and they are releasing their seventh full-length album in an attempt to return to their original sound but through a new lens. That sound means heavy-paced bass lines with ambient partitions plus chill-out beats and uptempo rhythms that manage to retain enough energy to slap your face for good measure every so often.

“Import Export” has been publicly available for a bit of time ahead of the release, it is indeed the first track yet could not have been a coincidence for selection as it is one of the top tracks in the collection. Raunchy bass-synths and high octave piano-synths lay the groundwork for a dance anthem that could claim a stake in a plethora of genres. Double bass soon becomes the rhythm tempo along with a smooth acoustic guitar the pervades throughout the tune.

The next track “Hausner” has an immediate lounge-jazzy feel until a soulful keyboard quickly takes center stage. The song rapidly shifts towards a dark reggae dub style but before long is molding all former styles for the final two minutes. “Friday” has a house x lounge hybrid opening sequence before heavier piano sounds make their appearance to generate a dance floor hit, another tune that stakes a claim to top track.

Rupert Huber (left) and Richard Dorfmeister

Here is a uniquely insightful quote from Richard Dorfmeister on the subject of instruments having personalities:

Ok, so imagine a studio full of instruments. Now imagine all these instruments coming to life and beginning to play what they want without the usual human influence. The bass will start to play a solo (“TOMMY”), the Fender Rhodes piano wants to groove (“FRIDAY”) and the keyboard wants to become a guitar (“HAUSNER”).”

“Wo-tan” has a strong 80s + house vibe to start which after an interlude reverts to modern house at a BPM higher than what TOSCA or Kruder & Dorfmeister would normally execute before slowly crawling to the pace that we are familiar with from past releases. The next song, “Chinabar”, begins rather geometrically and un-paced for the first minute until melting into familiar territory.

“Supersunday” makes another bid for top track on the LP. Following a gentle open, the track becomes more upbeat and morose simultaneously. There are moments where it has a spooky feel, quickly contrasted by acoustic guitar chords, comforting sounds, and subtle tremolo vocals that are impactful. “Amber November” truly feels like a retro TOSCA song- minimalist and supplicating to vivid imagery. “Dr. Dings” is the duo’s reinterpretation of the classic “Horse With No Name” by America. Not unlike the most of the compilation, it would be well suited on a soundtrack.

TOSCA’s music excels spectacularly at invoking a range of emotions and allusion to imagery. Channeling ambient pioneer Brian Eno, “Olympia” is inclusive to more electronica yet stays within the ambient realms. “Shoulder Angel” would have been a dance floor rage song…in 1935. Yet it is a wonderful track that does not feel outdated in the slightest even with double bass and horns that are synonymous with the early 20th century.

Going, Going, Going is TOSCA’s best work to date and I expect it will get more publicity and mainstream commercial success than any previous projects, TOSCA or otherwise, for these two deserving artists. It has widespread appeal for new listeners to find one of many aspects of this music that they enjoy. Hopefully that can breed success for a U.S. tour, as such visits are few and far between.

TOSCA has announced several dates in Europe this spring, no news about a U.S. tour has yet surfaced. You can buy Going, Going, Going, here.

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