It’s a little confronting at first to suddenly realise that Viennese duo Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber have been collaborating under the Tosca moniker for more than two decades. In many senses they’re unsung survivors of the trip-hop and chillout booms, having transcended passing downbeat trends and coffee shop ubiquity by steadfastly pursuing their own path, the quality of the duo’s instrumental and compositional skills setting them well above the deluge of ‘smokers beats’ type releases flooding the market during the late nineties / early noughties. If anything though, 2014’s preceding album ‘Outta Here’ saw the duo confusing and alienating some of their longtime fanbase by increasingly focusing on guest vocalists and more song-oriented arrangements, a significant shift away from the dubby instrumentals explored on early gems such as ‘Opera’ and ‘Suzuki’.
On the evidence of this latest tenth album ‘Going Going Going’ it seems as though Dorfmeister and Huber have paid attention to this criticism, as the twelve tracks collected here see Tosca making substantial moves back towards their classic sound, and a guest vocalist only makes an appearance on one track here. While the dubby instrumentals that the duo built their reputation on dominate here though, it’s still a comparatively upbeat listen compared to some of Tosca’s earlier work. ‘Export Import’ opens things with a wander out into exactly the sort of low-slung smoky funk that longtime listeners will expect, as bluesy guitar bends and digitally cut-up beatboxed vocals (the latter forming a recurring touchstone here) ring out against a characteristically lush backdrop of live drums, bass and shimmering electronics, though there’s an increasing synth-y edge to the arrangements as phased pads cut through the mix.
‘Wo-Tan’ meanwhile could almost pass for a track from the ‘Suzuki’ era as flanged synths get dubbed out against a driving backdrop of live bass, rippling guitar flecks and house hi-hats, the track riding the groove before suddenly dropping out into an eerie midsection filled with delayed-out minor key harmonics. If anything, ‘Dr. Dings’, the duo’s G-Stone tinged instrumental take on America’s ‘Horse With No Name’ represents the one uneven moment here, offering up a slightly kitschy aside that doesn’t quite stand up with the other tracks on offer here. Still, it’s pleasant more than anything else.
Elsewhere, ‘Supersunday’ offers up what was easily my favourite track here, it’s slow brooding piano arrangements giving way to a house-infused wander through shimmering electronics, propulsive live drums and dubbed-out effects that builds to epic proportions whilst carrying a sense of resigned melancholy in its undertones. Rather than offering up any real surprises, ‘Going Going Going’ offers up the warm familiarity of a fuzzy jumper to longtime Tosca fans, and for most listeners that’s likely to be enough.