Review ·

When it comes to discussing the latest in electronic music these days, I'm sounding like a broken record. Over and over again great electronic artists are ruining their records with vocals that force the music into a supporting role, deserved or not. Tosca, the duo that combines the latter half of that missing-in-action duo Kruder and Dorfmeister with Rupert Huber, has used lyrics before. But perhaps Dorfmeister and Huber's recent success touring with a full band in support of their previous record, 2003's Dehli 9, has gone to their engineering heads. Because on J.A.C., stellar -- and I mean stellar -- beats have been sacrificed to mediocre vocals that are far too often the focus of the mix.

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The album starts off great, with the atmospheric "Rondo Acapricio" setting the mood for the beautiful vocal performance of Samiah Farah on "Heidi Bruhl." Tosca has been stranger than this in the past, though, and J.A.C. places the duo closer to Thievery Corporation than they've been before (especially on the mildly Indian-tinged "Naschkatze"). Things never get too weird, but they get pretty tight, like on the swishing beat of "John Lee Huber" and the dancing bass line of "Sala." These beats could have been handed to Aceyalone and he would've killed them.

Instead, we get some pretty routine vocals that distract from superior music. On some songs, like "The Big Sleep" and "John Lee Huber," the lyrics hardly seem worth including. It's as if they were put on because a few singers were hanging out in the studio on recording day. The vocals don't ruin the record -- this is still one of the better down-tempo records to be released this year -- but they make a great album almost great. If there's someone out there who still appreciates the art of making a good old-fashioned instrumental electronic record, I guarantee at least one copy will be sold.

Instead, we get some pretty routine vocals that distract from superior music. On some songs, like "The Big Sleep" and "John Lee Huber," the lyrics hardly seem worth including. It's as if they were put on because a few singers were hanging out in the studio on recording day. The vocals don't ruin the record -- this is still one of the better down-tempo records to be released this year -- but they make a great album almost great. If there's someone out there who still appreciates the art of making a good old-fashioned instrumental electronic record, I can guarantee at least one album will be sold.

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"Damentag" mp3 (single released 4.26.05)

Tosca media clips on K7.com

G Stone Records (includes media clips)

  • Rondo Acapricio
  • Heidi Brühl
  • Superrob
  • John Lee Huber
  • Pyjama
  • The Big Sleep
  • Damentag
  • Naschkatze
  • Züri
  • Sala
  • Forte
  • No More Olives
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