It was many years ago that I heard Kruder And Dorfmeisters lovely 2CD tripfest K & D Sessions, and since that time I admit to not having kept up with the duo, despite my love for that release. Perhaps it was because they sort of split and went their seperate ways, or perhaps I simply moved onto slightly different things, but even when I started hearing about the new collaborative project of Richard Dorfmeister, I shrugged and went onto other things.
Those tricky bastards in Tosca must have known that I was a sucker for packaging, though, and they finally reeled me back in with their newest release of Dehli9. Housed in a fabric digipack box with embossed lettering and super-nice graphics, it's one of those releases that grabs your attention whether you've heard of the group and like them or not. It just happened to be my luck that their release found its way into my hands at a particularly vulnerable time for me (aka a sale), and I decided to delve back into that world to see what I'd been missing.
As it turns out, it doesn't seem to be a whole lot. Although the duo name has changed from Kruder and Dorfmeister to that of Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber, Tosca creates music that is much similar to what I liked about the K&D. Basically, it's mid-tempo beats that are lolled and syruped, with enough juicy production and effects to make your head sort of drift to one side. In jumping back into their work, I was struck the most with the first track on the disc, named "Oscar." A floaty, blissful track with drifting female vocals and a shuffling beat, it's exactly what I found myself remembering that I enjoyed. From there out, though, the album gets a bit more spotty, and it's mainly due to the overuse of vocals. While "Me & Yoko Ono" rolls with a retro bass funk and some rather subtle vocals, things seem to get more silly from there. "Gute Laune" takes on a world-lite vibe with vocals by Tweed, while "Wonderful" features Earl Zinger singing in the most obvious melody over a track packed to the gills with superfluous and downright annoying sound samples (like the cheesy spring uncoiling 'boing' and many others).
As on the first track and "Every Day & Every Night," vocals seem to work the best with the music when they're spaced-out, cut up and done dub style. It fits the laid-back stoned funk of the tracks better, and when the duo treads into more upbeat territory, it often comes off as watered-down world pop. The production is slick and all the tracks on the release flow like butta, but like butta, they don't stick very well.
That said, the second disc of the set was a complete surprise to me. An entire CD of subtlely-manipulated solo piano pieces by Rupert Huber, it finds the group moving in a direction that is a complete 180 degree turn from anything I've heard by them before. Sounding closer to the stark pieces on Drukqs by Aphex Twin, they're tonally brilliant and present a whole new palette of sounds simply based upon rather simple piano melodies. It doesn't sound like much upon first listen, but it's pretty darn absorbing, and quite a departure from the hit-or-miss on the first disc. For me, it was an unexpected little bonus, and although it's definitely built for certain moods (as a whole the pieces are somewhat repetitive in nature), I actually find it more engrossing than the first disc of rehashed blunted beats. Overall lesson learned from the release is that I shouldn't always trust fancy packaging, but I'm always up for a surprise.