Slow down. Relax. Take a deep breath. Steal back an hour from your busy life. This really is worth your full attention. Tosca, the Viennese masters of deluxe soundscapes and sensual rhythms, are back with their most magical and mesmerising album yet. It's called No Hassle.
Multi-instrumentalists Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber have been friends since their Vienna schooldays, when they founded their first experimental band, Dehli 9. Richard later became half of the globally acclaimed DJ-producer duo Kruder and Dorfmeister, while Rupert composed piano music, soundart installations and acoustic networks. But the duo rediscovered their musical chemistry again with their Tosca debut, the 1994 12" Chocolate Elvis. A string of highly praised albums and remix collections followed.
No Hassle is Tosca's fifth studio album, and their most beautiful musical statement so far. A luxurious tapestry of analogue and digital sounds, submerged samples and live instruments, it evolves and expands into an hour-long ambient symphony. The title reflects not only the duo's laidback approach to making music but their whole philosophy of life. "It's our personal reaction to everything," says Richard. "To all things that are pressuring you from outside, or internally, from every angle. It's sort of the ideal position to achieve, and it's the same idea behind the music: to achieve an hour where you feel hassle free." The overall sound of No Hassle draws on classic Tosca ingredients: dub and funk, blues and krautrock, acoustic and electronic, strings and samples, mellow grooves and elegant piano melodies. As usual, the album is a product of collective chemistry, with Richard and Rupert improvising together in their Vienna studio, discovering sounds and layering ideas in a purely intuitive manner. "We love this merging of different things, without a concept, just because it feels right," Richard says.
No Hassle is all about contemplation and concentration. While recent Tosca releases like J.A.C. (2005) and the remix collection Souvenirs (2006) were a move towards classic song structures and club-friendly grooves, their latest is a much more introspective journey into inner space. It was conceived as a single seamless sea of sound, deeply layered with liquid rhythms and tidal melodies. Warm and enveloping, each leisurely track flows gently into the next, a musical ocean moving in slow motion. This is an album to plunge deeply into and get lost inside.
Slow down. Relax. Take a break from the pressures of life. The most soothing and sublime album of 2009 has arrived. No contest. No kidding. No Hassle. (Stephen Dalton/!K7)