Tobias - A Series of Shocks (2 stars)

A strong start gives way to a weak, anticlimactic album from minimal techno producer Tobias Freund

Tobias - A Series of Shocks

Minimal techno these days is something that requires a ‘repeated listen’ to ensure full enjoyment, and to make sure its art is appreciated to the fullest (well, at least that’s what the record labels' press releases tell you). In the instance of A Series of Shocks, those words are like the layers and layers of make-up used to cover up the album's blemishes, while 'repeated listens’ reveal more flaws than strengths.

The album, Tobias Freund's second release on the Berghain-owned label, Ostgut Ton, begins brightly with the ambience of ‘Entire’, a track which showcases Tobias’ use of overlapping analogue synthesisers to create a stunning piece of music. Elsewhere, superb arpeggiated bass lines come to the fore, bubbling underneath the harsh percussion on ‘He Said’, and burrowing deep in the thick of the euphoric synths on the Drexciya-influenced ‘Cursor Item Only’.

After so strong a start though, it comes as an unpleasant surprise that the rest of A Series of Shocks is one dimensional and ultimately, quite boring. Mild insult is added to light injury when the album concludes poorly on ‘If’ and ‘Fast Null’ – ending something that could have been brilliant with an anti-climax.

Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the tracks on A Series of Shocks to his classic club banger 'Street Knowledge', but to fans, or those who believe artists should be constantly pushing themselves to release new material which goes beyond the bar they’ve set themselves, the album comes as a letdown.

Dubstep, which has come under attack over the last year or so, has been extremely influential in some of the forward thinking names to techno – Boddika and Blawan are sending shockwaves through the genre with their groundbreaking production, but the German scene have been very quick in dismissing it.

It’s refreshing to see that Tobias’ has stuck with analogue production on this album, but like the rest of the artists who make up the genre, perhaps it’s time to think outside the box, or in this case, the make-up bag.

Released via Ostgut Ton on Mon 31 Mar.

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