Toby Tobias: Space Shuffle Launch Party

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  • Does it seem to anyone else that there must be something in the water over at the Rekids camp of late? What was only recently one of the more consistent, focused techno labels around has suddenly blossomed into a many-headed monster, devouring influences from techno to house to disco to "club". Star talent Radio Slave has spent years honing a sound aptly pigeonholed as "repeat it ‘til it bleeds", only to abandon the thirteen minute peak-time remix for equally long, house tinged original productions in the No Sleep series. Toby Tobias’ June-released Space Shuffle album is even more carnivorous, eating disco, space disco, techno and house in equal bites, without a trace of indigestion showing up in the album’s tracks. It was unsurprising, then, that the Space Shuffle album launch party made room for many different sounds. Tobias’ effervescent boogie behind the decks was the first sight to greet our eyes as we descended into London’s premium grade rave dungeon, Plastic People. He was dipping into tunes new and old, as well as covering material from Space Shuffle. It’s tempting to hand full marks to any DJ willing to try to recreate the vibe of Studio 54, but it’s especially impressive to see that Tobias can weave together his diverse influences live—and not just with hours in the studio. Kathy Diamond joined the fray to provide live vocals for ‘The Feeling’, the lead single off Tobias’ album. The RA review, favorable as it was, did take the time to ask why Ms. Diamond has seemed such a lock in the Eurodisco vocal market these days. It concluded that, if not the greatest talent ever to stand behind the microphone, Diamond has the unerring ability of an old pro to get the job done without fail. In person, she looked every inch the diva, in a huge necklace that matched her surname. And she didn’t miss a step in laying on a vocal which stood up to those on some of the classic cuts that Tobias played. Winding down through a mix of Space Shuffle material and some contemporary house, Tobias handed the CDJ’s over to Radio Slave. It seems like so much of the music coming from Radio Slave’s new home, Berlin, tries to ape either the all-out techno sound of the Berghain crew or the snazzy, deep, house-you-can-throw-shapes-to stuff coming from the upstairs Panoramabar. It’s nice that there’s someone like Matt Edwards around to split the difference. ‘Tantakatan’, which came early into his set, worked well after Tobias’ soulful vibe. Its endlessly building house chords were shoehorned into a crisp techno framework that hung in the air like ornaments around the small and friendly crowd. The beginning of his set continued to lay on the funk, in a distinctly techno manner: crispness ruled the day but plenty of room was found for the odd squelch. Things got more stripped down as time went on, though, and the effusion of groove that had characterized the night until then dried up. The floor emptied most of the way before the 2 AM finish, and though it wouldn’t have been appropriate for Radio Slave to show up the fantastic Tobias at the latter’s album launch, he could still have done a bit more to end the night with a bang, and not a whimper. It’s good to see that Rekids have returned to their roots as a home for all kinds of music that fits a certain vibe; I’ve always thought some of their more outlying releases have been their strongest. The surprising effectiveness of Toby Tobias’ new tracks on the dancefloor has persuaded me to look at Space Shuffle in a different light, as well. This wasn't the bangingest party, but it did do a fantastic job of showcasing the plethora of awesome tunes Rekids are chucking our way at present.