[29 April 2009]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
Richard Dorfmeister has appeared on very few dud albums in his career, between the legendary Kruder and Dorfmeister mixes and the respected Tosca catalogue. However, since Y2K, he hasn’t shown up on many great albums either. He has barely spoken to Paul Kruder in years. Tosca, a project between Dorfmeister and his Vienna classmate Rupert Huber, ran out of the gate with the slow burning trip-hop/dub classic Opera and the easy-drinking taste of Suzuki in 2000. Then it seemed the operatic duo tried to spread themselves too thin.
2003’s Dehli9 was a sprawling two-disc affair that injected more straight-laced world music influences, minimal piano compositions, and full song vocals (instead of immaculately arranged, choice samples) into the mix. Two years later, J.A.C. unleashed a funky, electro, disco pop affair that was smothered with singing, plus a few slower numbers seemingly tacked on for balance. It may be cliché to say, but No Hassle is a thankful return to form.
Lately, there has been a big push in electronic music towards songwriting, that is, lyricism. Susumu Yokota’s Mother and Tim Exile’s Listening Tree both broke with tradition for those artists in 2009 by featuring singing on almost every track, and those albums suffer for it. Any club veteran will tell you a deejay with a microphone never ends well unless he or she only announces drink specials, but they all cave to the urge to lead the dance floor through several rounds of Simon Says (throw your hands up, make noise, etc.). Many an otherwise decent night out has been ruined by this sad trait.
Bucking the savage trend, No Hassle features no main vocal tracks, returning to the use of samples, the use of the voice as an instrument that helped to give the early Tosca so much character. Through this, combined with a return to the downtempo/trip-hop aesthetic that served Opera and Suzuki so well, the album more aptly displays its theme than a thousand fumbling pseudo-spiritual singers ever could. Actually, Opera now seems largely half-baked by comparison, but I guess that was part of the idea in the first place. The theme of this record should be obvious from its title. No Hassle means hakuna matata, no worries, no bother, and the album delivers the finest chill music in the world today. If you can’t chill out to this, you’re cold.
Is your boss crawling up your ass? Are your parents using you as a moderator in their long-overdue divorce proceedings? Did your sibling or cousin recently ask you for money again without paying you back from the last time? Do you think your cat is peeing on your clothing out of spite? Are you anxiously counting down to the Armageddon at the end of the Mayan calendar (December 21, 2012)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are hereby prescribed No Hassle, a scientifically tested mix of equal parts Zero 7 and Boards Of Canada, with a sweet Lee “Scratch” Perry coating. It makes an hour on the bus seem like three hours in a pool filled to the brim with the genitals of your choosing. Next to this, Prozac looks like a double-shot espresso.