Review: Tobias - A Series of Shocks
Tobias Freund is not your average MacBook producer. Whilst many, over the past decade, have been reliant on software and patches, Freund’s background within musical engineering and mastering leave you with a man and his machines, plugging and unplugging sonic suggestions. His brand of techno is loaded with tension and intricate consideration. Patience, rather gyration, will allow you to fully appreciate what Freund has to offer. Following the 2011 release of his debut LP Leaning over Backwards, A Series of Shocks continues his pursuit of “Non-standard”, electronic explorations.
The album’s introduction, “Entire”, is a modular master class, flaunting the space and sound that album opens into – a beat-less, synthetic sequence, it’s tumbling, yet delicate composition serve organic connotations. However, it is impossible to escape the intricacy of its design – a wonderfully teleological arrangement.
However, this serenity is short-lived as we are thrust into the force of “Heartbeat” – an undulating, tingling roller, with crisp highs and sharp shakes that shuffle the track along. “Test Card” is an atmospheric, yet eerie piece – a cavernous exploration. As the kicks and hats become more pronounced, the surrounding space slowly expands and the track continues its gradual climb.
There are more energetic variations to be found. “Instant”, with its bouncy, acid b-line, is a lively deviation – more club-ready heat, than chin-stroker’s delight. “Cursor Item Only”’s syncopated beat, is drenched with warm pads, cones and chimes, whilst the blend of dusty drums and robotic flecks in “The Scheme of Things”, sound like a post-apocalyptic recording of Wu Tang’s “Gravel Pit”.
“He Said” is a subtly layered, but repetitive, tool accented with glinting variations. As these dance over the oppressive thud, they begin to sound more bland than subtle. However, with persistence, the listener is able to discover hidden strata, offering holistic satisfaction over aural gratification. Nevertheless, it’s “Ya Po”’s relentless, minimal goodness that is the gem of this LP – simplicity really is key. Freund makes sure not to overproduce, but allow the listener’s ear to join the dots, creating a beautifully linear piece.
This album does not sound or feel like a stand alone compilation, however, this is not criticism at all. In order to fully appreciate the LP, the listener should acknowledge its origins. I am loathed to recommend this solely to the techno aficionados, but there is a curiosity within Freund’s work that requires careful persistence. A Series of Shocks carries decades of experience, knowledge and passion. And, as with all of Freund’s production, is a graceful progression, masterfully manipulating crude machinery, to create exquisitely fluid compositions.
A Series of Shocks is out on Ostgut Ton on March 31st.