Album Review: Tosca | No Hassle

No Hassle

down•tem•po \ daun-tem-po \ adj + jazz \ jaz \ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ vb

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine: TOC: No Hassle

It’s been a decade since Vienna’s Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister released their genre-defining album The K&D Sessions for their label, G-Stone. Since then, downtempo has become so ubiquitous that entire bar concepts and retail outlets, wanting to prove their all-around coolness, have been launched with Sessions as an integral part of the soundtrack. Over those same ten years, Kruder moved into heavier musical territory while Dorfmeister stayed the course, producing alongside another longtime musical collaborator, Rupert Huber, as Tosca.

Thanks to downtempo’s oversaturation, it’d be easy to dismiss Tosca’s latest studio effort, No Hassle, as a rehash of a worn-out sound. But doing so would sell the album short, like dismissing a Shakespeare play as clichéd. The true originator of the sound, Tosca continues to exude the freshness that downtempo so desperately needs. Its rich productions show depth, musicality and a sublime peacefulness that outpace its many impersonators.

From the opening bars of “My First,” we’re reminded what makes Tosca’s sound great: its slo-mo meter and syrupy ambience. On “Mrs. Bongo,” vocal “ah’s” float over a bed of soft drums, while a minimal sample reassuringly repeats “okay.” Tracks like these make any stress seem distant.

That last sentiment is central to the album, Tosca’s fifth studio release. Drawing on the duo’s usual mix of contact-high-inducing dub, muted and swinging jazz rhythms, and überchill melodies, No Hassle marks a return to form, almost on par with its earliest, and best, work. It has the same ability to put listeners in a hypnotic state of ease, where they can mentally skip out on their hardships, even if just for an hour. Man, is it nice.

- Joshua P. Ferguson



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