When the original has been described as a work that puts its progenitors “in the maverick category,” upon being called up for the remix package, do you go like for like and play the rebels at their own game, try and straighten out the eccentricities to get them on your team, or just go about your own business to let them know who this project is really about?
Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber are now seated for deep house and cosmic disco (“Meixner” again taking to the highway), measuring gilt-edged lushness and a look-ahead tightening of dancing shoes, all with a little loftiness carried over by an international cast. Dorfmeister’s own head to head with Madrid de Los Austrias means jazzy stepping out of bed comes with a little less stubble, taking a shine to a drifter donning top hat and tails, and there are even footnotes made within new supplements as Brendon Moeller betters himself as Beat Pharmacy to claim extra credit for “Bonjour,” with a dance floor study approaching odyssey status.
Whereas sombreness seemed to intrude on the source, there’s larger uplift second time around, without it being a facelift finishing in a manic grin. Though the AGF reformation of “Cavallo” displays a impatience that breaks up the original, “JayJay” in particular sounds more wide awake when taken care of first by Stefane Lefrancois, then with Makossa and Megablast rechanneling its pseudo-goth energy. In conclusion, all of the above.
Tosca, the Austrian duo composed of Richard Dorfmeister (of Kruder & Dorfmeister fame) and Rupert Huber, have been making beautiful music together for two decades. Friends since childhood and known globally for their exploits investigating the beautiful depths of ambient and downtempo music, their sixth album, Odeon (read our review here), finds the pair’s sonic proclivities veering into a captivatingly dark place. Featuring guests including Sarah Callier (download “What If” here) and J.J. Jones (watch the video for “Jay Jay” below), Odeon was born out of a musical relationship that’s as solid as a rock. “Sometimes don’t even need to talk,” Richard Dorfmeister tells us about his musical connection with Huber, “it’s a mutual understanding.”
Read our list of 125 dance/electronic albums to look for in 2013 here.
There’s a beautiful darkness about Odeon. Was it your collective intent to have the album sound like this, or did it happen organically?
Richard Dorfmeister: It is very important for us to let things happen organically. We prefer to create our music being together in the same studio at the same time. Tosca albums are always like a collection of snapshots, or like a diary…let the music that we are about to create guide us…so it is actually non-intentional, and there is a moment when it is clear: this is it, the album is ready.
Were there any specific life events that informed the songs?
When we meet in the studio for our sessions we enjoy to have this short time of freezone where we are able to break out of the normal social life (family, children, bills, etc.). We know this time is limited so we try to bring into the sessions as much as possible. Over the years we developed our own working mode, and since we are friends already from school days we sometimes don’t even need to talk — it’s a mutual understanding and this sort of partnership-situation is definitely something very special and very hard to set up [since] these things need to grow naturally.
You’ve worked together on many albums. Has your process changed at all?
Technology has changed, and now we have more time to actually work on the music. We need to be less aware of the limitations that electronic gear has had for such a long time — that helps us to stay with the way we always liked to make our music: jamming, playing, selecting together [and being] a virtual and a real band at the same time.
Odeon features an array of guests. I’m sure you could’ve had your pick of collaborators, so what was it about these people that clicked with you both?
I think we love to work with singers that are rather unknown or upcoming — we definately don’t approach big time names. In a way we treat the vocals like instruments, and we love to edit and reconstruct the vocal recordings. Sometimes the vocals are just perfect as they are but normally we cut around quite a bit. For the track “Jay Jay” it was great to work with J.J. Jones — [he’s] such a talent and such a great personality. You can feel if an artist really put his heart into a recording. It’s the same with the remixes (those will be released in April/May); you can feel if somebody is just doing a job or if he is putting his soul into the work.
“Tosca albums are always like a collection of snapshots.”
Are there plans to perform the album live?
After the premiere in Vienna last fall, the Live at Odeon CD, part of the deluxe package — we are looking forward to take the performance to the next level. We will perform Odeon on the occasion of the opening of the new opera house in Linz, Austria on April 17. [The show] will combine ambient live sessions, singers performing the songs of Odeon and uptempo music from our last albums with visualizations by the ARS Electronica Futurelab.
Richard, what’s your relationship with DJing at the moment. Does it excite you as much now as it did, say, 10 years ago?
Yes, it still does. I just love to move the crowd just by playing the tracks I really love, and I have been trying to spread/select music that makes the difference. There is so much stuff being released every week but still it is not so easy to find music that is fitting into my set. Since I am not spinning straight house/techno, I always try to find tracks that are rocking but are deep at the same time. I think you become better with age because you know exactly what you want.
Vienna’s Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber have long been vaunted for classically chilled electronica and jazz brewed richness and riches. With an individual, rule-loosening edge that probably puts them in the maverick category, their admission that they’ve “always had a darker, ambient side” has Odeon waiting for nightfall in order to nurture an interruptive rebelliousness.
Kinking the suave sophisticates this time around are the brasher disregards of the rockier “Heatwave” heading out on an archetypal desert road trip, mild hallucinations followed by a blackness developing a stronghold on the sub-goth summons of “JayJay” and the punk-dance “In My Brain Prinz Eugen” that’s neither one thing or another. Tosca have gone from afterhours charisma to the taboos of the night, racked with insomnia (“Soda”) and shoegazing with bloodshot eyes once found romancing. “Meixner” searches for that debonair hush of old, but has become fonder of stonier, dubbier glances, again with a prairie twang, though “Cavallo” is a cinematic come-together, languidly enjoying a cigarette before closing time, leaving the audience patiently waiting rather than being made to flinch.
Gallic wispiness on “Stuttgart” steadies the ship and restores confidence in the ballroom, and taking to wearing hearts on sleeves, the crestfallen waltz “Bonjour” circles like a done-for music box. It sums up the album wrestling with burden, sometimes with good grace, others when not giving a damn, favoring the somber over smiling or soul-touching.
File under: Metope, Fila Brazillia, Maria Minerva
Read our list of 125 dance/electronic albums to look for in 2013 here.