A sublime collection of music, the new CD by Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber is full of uptempo beats with a downtempo feeling, grooves in soft satin, spliff tunes with lyrical extravagance, and piano-pieces in a dub style. There’s musical diversity galore on Dehli 9 : CD 1 contains the classical Tosca sound infused with lush instrumentation, and CD2 (the bonus CD) features twelve dubwise piano compositions.
Dehli 9, the album’s title, is confusing for a start – as it has nothing to do with New Delhi, the Indian capital, but a piece of Tosca’s biographical history. Dehli 9, was the name of Richard Dorfmeister’s and Rupert Huber’s former band. Founded long before Rupert Huber started his studies at the Viennese Institute for Electroacoustic Composition and Richard Dorfmeister began his globetrotting career as one half of Kruder & Dorfmeister. During their years in school together, Dehli 9 was the laboratory in which Dorfmeister and Huber took their first musical steps, explored simple electronic equipment, and enjoyed their earliest, hippiesque live appearances in a quarry near Vienna. In Dehli 9, Richard played guitar, flute and keyboards and Rupert played keyboards and a saz, a turkish string instrument.
Today, the Tosca masterminds look back to their Dehli 9 days with "good feelings," as Richard Dorfmeister says, reminiscing about the art of composition in those pre-MIDI times. "We met, we played our instruments and bang! something happened. Sounds, tunes, grooves came up, poetry was recited or sung, and then we suddenly had made a song or a track." For Dehli 9, Dorfmeister and Huber recaptured the spontaneity of their earliest collaborations. Their direct but freeform approach is quiet obvious. The sounds are drawn less from well-sorted sample banks or refined VST plug-ins, but from a range of live instruments that Richard and Rupert played during the two-year long sessions. After recording, the music was arranged on the computer, leaving room for some formidable vocal contributions. Anna Clementi, who also sung on the Tosca album Suzuki, lends her voice to "Oscar", "Me And Yoko Ono" and "Rolf Royce". The polymorphic hipster Earl Zinger, a.k.a. Rob Gallagher from London, sings on "Wonderful". "Gute Laune" is sung by MC Tweed of Birmingham’s Different Drummer Sound System, "Every Day Every Night" is hushed by Viennese super MC Sugar B. and "Rolf Royce" features a contribution from the legendary Viennese New Wave vocalist Graf Hadik.
Dorfmeister and Huber’s signature repetition of themes and musical ideas is not to be found on Dehli 9. For their new album, they allowed their emotions to take the lead rather than working from compositional concepts or high-minded ideas. Consequently, one shouldn’t pay too much attention to the titles of the tracks, they have more a symbolic character and illustrate feelings, not overt messages. "For example, we came up with the title Dave Dudley as it reminded us of truck driving", Rupert Huber says. Dehli 9 is a "sonic photo book" in which musical and emotional snapshots of Dorfmeister and Huber’s lives are the driving force behind the music.
The idea to release the new Tosca album including a bonus CD was conceived during the recording sessions. It became a peaceful merger of the two musical worlds in which Dorfmeister and Huber move nowadays. Rupert Huber, who also works as a composer and musician, first wrote the piano tracks on CD 2 as a project apart from Dehli 9. Richard Dorfmeister heard the tracks one day and suggested to rework them on his mixing desk. Parts were repeated, pieces rearranged, effects layered, and a little dub spice added. During this process, elements from CD 1 which had an equal tonality were grafted onto tracks from CD 2. As such, both CDs should be heard together as a symbiotic whole.
For sure, the new Tosca album is a real musical statement. Yes, one can consider it an liberating piece of work. Dorfmeister and Huber show that their approach to music is moving way beyond their trademark sound, that it breaks boundaries and explores new sonic perspectives. And most of all, it continuously provides extraordinary good feelings.