The early albums of Tosca are one of several possible sources of relief if you're among the many frustrated punters who waited in vain for Austria's pioneering dub duo Kruder & Dorfmeister to release a "proper" album of their own compositions. Tosca's recording career goes back at least as far as K & D's does, pairing old school buddies Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber.

artist:
Tosca

country of origin:
Austria

style(s):
Lounge, dub, chilled house, downtempo funk

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Opera (1997, K& Records)
  • Suzuki (1999, K7 Records)
  • Delhi 9 (2003, K7 Records)

Reviewed by Mike G

The early albums of Tosca are one of several possible sources of relief if you're among the many frustrated punters who waited in vain for Austria's pioneering dub duo Kruder & Dorfmeister to release a "proper" album of their own compositions (as opposed to productions and remixes).  Tosca's recording career goes back at least as far as K & D's does, pairing old school buddies Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber.

This duo first turned the underground's ears in the mid-90's with two singles: the weird trip hop-meets-opera samples of "Chocolate Elvis" and the stark, hypnotic "Fuck Dub". Both appear on the debut album Opera (1997), and for those tracks alone it's worth having. But for consistency if nothing else, the debut is rather outshone by the two albums that followed it: Suzuki (1999) and Delhi 9 (2003).

Suzuki is one of the great albums of dub's new age, melding dubby and tuneful basslines with a bright, positive vibe and showcasing Dorfmeister's production talents for blunting sounds to perfection. Probably Tosca's most distinctive trait is the way they use some of their guest vocalists. Lots of "ooos", "arrrs" and other unintelligible voice bytes done in a way that could fairly be described as kooky. The album's standout is "The Key", an instrumental with an extraordinary rolling bassline calmed by gorgeous vibraphone and keyboard phrases that gently skim the surface like pebbles thrown across a pond.

Bridged by a couple of non-essential remix albums is the duo's third proper album Delhi 9 and it's also a pearler. The album comes in two halves. Disc One expands somewhat beyond the duo's dubby roots to explore some deep house grooves and jazz-flavoured riffs. Disc Two is something else altogether: ten deep ambient piano pieces by Huber with subtle production magic care of Dorfmeister. If you’ve already been spellbound by the wispy piano musings of Harold Budd will know what to expect. For lounge and dub fans it will hopefully be a quiet thrill to discover ambient piano music for the first time.

Suzuki and Delhi 9 remain Tosca's masterworks. Subsequent releases since 2003 have either settled into a pleasant Tosca formula or bordered on too commercial with an emphasis on straight up vocals; none of them show the same spark or originality.

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