Thumping bass, twangy guitar and a down-low growl -- the only clue that this bluesy track wasn't recorded in Louisiana is its playful title: "John Lee Huber." Oh, and the fact that it's on "J.A.C.," the fourth album by Tosca, a musical project directed by Austrian DJs, producers and composers Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber.
A leader in the international down-tempo conspiracy, Tosca is the Vienna equivalent of Washington's Thievery Corporation. Both duos construct music that's rooted in electronica but incorporates live instruments and a diverse cast of singers. Half of these 12 tracks feature guest vocalists, and the mood changes considerably with the choice of performer.
While the Walkabouts' Chris Eckman and Austrian rocker Graf Hadik are gruff and swaggering on "John Lee Huber" and "The Big Sleep," respectively, Samia Farah coos the Franco-samba "Heidi Bruehl" and an unidentified voice warbles through "Zuri," a track that would be pure candy floss if not for Tosca's steadfast devotion to the bass line. It's the bass that connects these diverse tunes, but "J.A.C." demonstrates that studio craftsmen who fetishize individual components of their favorite records can synthesize these bits into something compellingly new.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Sunday at the 9:30 club.