A wise man from Vienna by the name Sigmund Freud once said “sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” After one listen of J.A.C., the fourth album from fellow Austrians Tosca the only way of summing it up in a nutshell would be to say “sometimes, a good dowmtempo album is just a good downtempo album.” After making their mark on the critically acclaimed Delhi9, the duo of Rupert Huber and Richard Dorfmeister (one half of trip-hop mainstays Kruder and Dorfmeister) have each been changed with their newfound duties of entering into the world of fatherhood. With the album title J.A.C. standing for the names of their sons (Joshua, Arthur, and Conrad), Tosca has graced us with an album that is slightly swankier than their previous efforts but still retains their eclectic uniqueness that has been a staple of their groovy sound.
Tosca has always had a laundry list of demeanors that has always made them more exclusive from other counterparts such as Thievery Corporation and Fila Brazila. However, the one lone aspect that stands out above the rest would have to be their picks of unascertained yet proficient guest singers that set the mood perfectly to the craftsmanship of their song structures. Take for example, Samiah Farah. Be sure to expect big things in the future from this Egyptian/Parisian songstress who lends her salty voice to the lounged out Euro melody “Heidi Bruehl” as label mate Earl Zinger lends his on-the-rocks utterance to the ambient soul of “Superrob.” Tosca even show a prudent knack for merging electronica and blues as singer Chris Eckman from the dark Seattle roots rockers The Walkabouts paraphrases a John Lee Hooker song on the chic beats of “John Lee Huber.”
J.A.C. can even be quite sensual at times. The opium den eroticism of “Rondo Acapricia” is bound to sooth some nerves as will the kinky purr of “Pyjama.” The smoky-voiced Austrian rock legend Graf Hadik furnishes the sounds of the acid jazz lushness with his slowed scat singing in the psychedelic “Naschkatze” and the all around bassy thump in the Mardi Gras street parade festiveness in “The Big Sleep.”
The Studio 54 days of the lit up dance floor and goldfish-heeled platform shoes are brought to life on the snazzy space-disco romp “Damentag.” The two real treats on J.A.C. however are funkified chill of “Sala” that is proceeded by “Zuri,” which sparkles like a crystal glass filled with Dom Perignon.
Tosca has shown us that not only can they take their sound on a Euro-trotting voyage, but for a brief moment step into a more Eastern-oriented realm in “Forte.” For the true Tosca fans “Forte” serves as sort of a primer to get ready for Tosca’s next album which Dorfmeister has promised will be a sortie into the sounds of Indian influenced music. So get your curry powder ready! If you need another reason to buy this splendid effort, take into consideration that it comes in leather packaging, making J.A.C an album that looks as good as it sounds.
Rithma – Music Fiction
Nightmares on Wax – Mind Elevation
DJ Krush – Zen