Although unlikely to propel Toby Tobias to overnight fame, this slow-burning album is...
Gemma Padley 2008
The art of understatement is a tricky one to pull off. Too many artists allow their music to become directionless and repetitive in the quest for an elusive, enigmatic sound. The debut album from London based Toby Tobias almost tumbles into this trap, but thankfully saves itself. Tobias has been on the dance circuit since the early nineties. Signed to the Rekids imprint, his history of DJing house, soul and disco has resulted in a style that is a non-specific mix of all three.
Space Shuffle, a cosmically ambient and at times soulful collection of tracks, is shot through with techno-y nips and tucks. Say It Slow leaps into all-out techno territory with trails of warped sound strewn across a glitch-ridden soundscape. A Close Shave 2008 is an interesting combination of trancelike, samba infused sound. Subtle Balearic references skirt past on Schoon and the soul-sounding Who Dunnit, while album epic Every Move is a compote of euphoric fragments, cemented by a decisive melody.
Moments of meaty bassline (Messaround) are welcome on an album that at times sounds a little insipid and sparse. Future single The Feeling (with Kathy Diamond on vocals) is the most soulful track; more vocal explorations would also be welcome.
Space Shuffle meanders along harmlessly enough but never quite has the grit or conviction to veer off its predictable course. Bugle Love with its shooting space sounds and jittery bass has promise, but is frustratingly underdeveloped and ultimately struggles to find a comfortable groove. Eleven comprises some interesting elements; reverb bass fades in and out of focus, balanced by flickering melody lines, but lacks real edge.
The problem with Space Sounds is that it falls somewhere between dancefloor and personal home listening. Although unlikely to propel Toby Tobias to overnight fame, this slow-burning album is still an enjoyable debut.