tobias. - Leaning Over Backwards

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  • The debut album from Tobias Freund under his tobias. alias makes for a great techno palate cleanser for Ostgut Ton after the warm and fuzzy deep house of Steffi's Yours & Mine. If your idea of a palate cleanser is swallowing sandpaper, that is. That's the dominant texture on Leaning Over Backwards. Ever the ascetic, for Leaning Over Backwards Freund abandons sequencer technology in favour of an 808 and a Mini Pops. A man who's produced everything from dance floor bombs to droning diatribes to spiky synth experiments under names like Odd Machine, Pink Elln and Non Standard Institute, Leaning Over Backwards is happily split down the middle by techno material and synth experiments that don't fall too far from the sort of kosmische revival touted by names like Dylan Ettinger or Stellar Om Source. The album is at its heart consummate home-listening techno, detailed and varied enough for even the most fickle of attention spans. Opener "Girts" builds layer after layer of grey crackle, a drum machine raucously fighting its way through the wall of burlap, while "Party Town" sticks unnerving, FUBAR'd vocal samples on top of a steampunk hop. Heading in a more accessible direction, "Leaning Over Backwards" and "Free No. 1" almost owe something to recent UK with their synth tangents and lithe drum machine aerobics, the latter especially making the most of space in an otherwise extremely claustrophobic record. "Skippy" is eight minutes of unrelenting, ultra-rigid kick drums and endlessly repeating vocals (a voice saying "skippy" at a frenetic clip) and would hold just as much water in a torture chamber as on a dance floor. Thankfully, Freund balances out those moments of extremity with tracks of wanderlust beauty, like the perpetual chime cycle of "Voices Told Me to Do That"—where the repetitive pattern begins to feel uncomfortably vicelike by the track's end—or the synth-drone experiment "Observing the Hypocrites" which wears itself down into intimidating low-frequency hum. Tracks like that are a big reason why the debut tobias. album feels like a triumph for a man who's spent a career making mostly "difficult" music. It shouldn't come as a surprise—we already knew the man who made Non Standard Institute Plays Non Standards was the same responsible for "Can't Fight This Feeling," after all—but it doesn't make it any less of an achievement. tobias. has given Ostgut a remarkable album that has its finger in nearly every pie within reach but feels unremittingly focused at the same time. It recalls Thomas Fehlmann's Gute Luft in its joyful appropriation of all sorts of techno trends and ideas into one unified palette, but does it with a steely resolve that sucks all the transparent sentimentalism out and replaces it with brutal but inspiring functionalism. Grey never sounded so lustrous.
  • Tracklist
      01. Girts 02. Party Town 03. Voices Told Me to Do That 04. Skippy 05. Zero Tolerance 06. Free No.1 07. Leaning Over Backwards 08. Observing the Hypocrites 09. The Key feat. Uwe Schmidt 10. She Still Calls Me Mister 11. We Stick to the Plan 12. Now I Know