Why is it that German music, especially electronic music, tends to appear over-ambitious, trying too hard to be clever? Case in point: the solo project of Kreidler member Detlef Weinrich, released under the moniker ‘Tolouse Low Trax’. What his music has to do with the impressionist painter Henri de Toulouse-Loutrec remains a mystery, however, as I would argue his hypnotic minimalist beats have more in common with the abstraction of Kassimir Malevich or the constructivism of El Lissitzky.
The one sheet informs that Weinrich is using his tracks as a DJ in Düsseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs, too. The ten tracks on the album (there are six on the vinyl version, one of which is exclusive to that format, and the vinyl comes with a download code) are indeed beat-driven and full of layered, complex percussion. At some 110 bpm and a somewhat ‘padded’ sound, though, there are no big beats to set any club afire. Released by a label that deals in exquisite electronica, “Mask Talk” is music to nod your head to.
Or maybe dance, if you’re a robot. Using hardly any vocals and only analogue machinery, Weinrich manages to sound both retro and futuristic. Vintage sounds for the future, that resemble Cluster more than anything else, but add more than a grain of Cologne’s minimal techno – what with Cologne only a few miles away from Düsseldorf. “Mask Talk” is a cathartic listening experience, and while the title track or “Prox” might indeed even work fine as a 12”, I’ve found it difficult to appreciate the whole album in one go. But anyway: If a forward thinking take on vintage German electronica sounds good to you, then “Mask Talk” is the place to go. 7/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (26 May, 2010)