Tobias Bernstrup - Technophobic
If you haven't heard Tobias Bernstrup by now, one can only question how dedicated to discovering music you really are. Tobias Bernstrup has mastered and rewrote the formula that bridges the 80's Italo-disco sound to the modern day synthpop groove. He boasts a musical resume spanning 20 plus years dazzling listeners with his unmistakable voice and gifted song writing. His live shows are unforgettable with his on stage theatrics and stunning wardrobes.
Tobias has that ability to build up a captivating track with precision programming and flawless execution from its foundation into a work of art. Like an architect, every sound, every layer is built with purpose and integrity into the sonic fabric ensuring the Italo fueled BPMs get the body moving and dancefloors burning. As a longtime fan of Tobias' work, there are no let downs from the early albums to the singles to the later works. That trend stays in play with the release of Technophobic on Nadanna Records. Tobias has worked with many recognizable artists like minimal sensation Martial Canterel, the immortal Trans-X, the talented Sara Lunden, the darkwave duo Lebanon Hanover and the otherworldly Confrontational, just to name a few. On 'Technophobic' listeners are rewarded with more amazing collaborations featuring French dark synth act Hante and a bunch of remixes on the CD version that will raise an eyebrow or two with Confrontational, Covenant, Techniques Berlin, Nao Katafuchi, Flemming Dalum, Makina Girgir and Italoconnection. The vinyl has three variants. The standard is limited to 200 copies on black vinyl, 100 copies on dark grey marbled vinyl and the signed version limited to 99 copies sold at a recent show to promote the release of Technophobic in Sweden. All versions are housed on a 140 gram slab of wax. The CD version limited to 200 copies and has 8 bonus tracks including but not limited to the Utopia 12".
Friends have often said Romanticism 2LP (2015 Enfant Terrible/Gooiland Elektro) was a departure from the sound that brought Tobias to the forefront of modern Italo Disco. It was definitely darker with far less Italo vibes and pushed the scope of influences into more synthpop and electro realms. I personally loved it, but for those that yearned for the return of the sound that made them a fan in the first place, you are in luck. Technophobic is everything you would expect from Tobias Bernstrup and more. The album is laced with plenty of memorable tracks that will keep the DJs busy trying to decide which tracks to use in their sets. The album opens with the song "Night In The Science Zone". This is a slow to moderately paced instrumental with plenty of intrigue to pique your interest in what's ahead "Doesn't Matter" picks up the tempo and about two minutes in, I was so impressed the arrangement of sound, I replayed it several times to take it all in. The song is a microcosm of the whole that makes Tobias Bernstrup so appealing and so relevant. "Metropolis Of Tomorrow" features a collaboration with the ultra-talented French darkwave artist Hante. Hante has been around in more ways than you might imagine. Before going solo under the Hante moniker, she was involved in Phosphor and Minuit Machine, two acts you should become familiar with if you are not already. The dueling vocals between Hante and Tobias showcase yet another stellar collaboration to appear on an album Tobias Bernstrup has released. "Technophobic" raises the BPMs as well one's concern of the technology we all depend on in our daily routines. Are we just descendants of the machine? Perhaps we are? "Technophobic" spits out some wicked chunks of high velocity pulsations expanding the realms of operation into the synthpop and electro genres. The diverse arrangements show a level of discipline that continually justifies why the admiration for Tobias Bernstrup is at such a high level and that is why he is sought after to release albums do remixes etc. "Something To Believe" pulls us into more musical wizardry. There seems to be a point in every song that really stands out musically. Just past the 2 minute point, the transition is a wonderful piece to bridge the beginning to the end. "Hear Me Calling" pumps out some EBM beats with strong Italo currents. This is quite a display of genre bending awesomeness. When it comes to Tobias Bernstrup, I usually cannot make a reference to his sound with any ease in the sense that he has a distinct sound and style that does not typically remind me of any other artists, which is a good thing of course. As I play "Everything Is Wrong" it does feel wrong hearing a post punk guitar riff and vocals that at certain point reminds me of Tom Ellard and in others Toma Walt Ohama. The weirdest part is that it sounds amazing.
There are several remixes of the track "Utopia". No doubt the original is solid and stands mighty on its own. It was even a 12" single featuring not only the original version but also contained remixes by Italo Disco luminaries Flemming Dalum, Italoconnection (Fred Ventura & Paolo Gozzetti) and Covenant. There is also another remix exclusive to the CD release of Technophobic by label mates and fellow Italo purveyors 23rd Underpass. Every remix of "Utopia" as well as the original are top of the line statements of the respective artists' crafts. Uncanny valley is a concept based how humans respond emotionally to human like replicas such as robots. Tobias Bernstrup is known not only for his music but for his imagery as well. There is a human/machine theme in his imagery as well as his music. "Uncanny Valley" stays consistent with the overall feel of the album. There is a remix by Nao Katafuchi who released an album with Nadanna a few years back. The remix strips away the lighter side of the synth work with a darker more robust rumbling revamp of the track. The sound is gritty and fulfilling; even if it vanquishes the arching 80's feel from the album version away. "Redundant" is final track on the album. It is an instrumental that plays with an 80's synth inspiration backed with fuzzed out basslines making appearances throughout the 2 and a half minutes. Other remixes include "Doesn't Matter" by Makina Girgir, "Technophobic by Techniques Berlin and "Everything Is Wrong by Confrontational. Makina Girgir is another French collaboration adding their retro-minimal interpretation to "Doesn't Matter". Like Nao Katafuchi's remix, the feel darkens a bit and adds another dimension without completely wiping the foundation away. I love how active Techniques Berlin has become over the last year or so. They keep giving us gifts time and time again. This time it’s a signature treatment of "Technophobic". You definitely hear the Techniques Berlin sound incorporated into the mix. Last but not least is Confrontational based in Italy. Both Confrontational and Tobias Bernstrup collaborated earlier on the 'Stranger In The Mirror/Summertime Love' single. Of course it was well received and certainly worthy of a physical release. They reunite on Technophobic to perform "Everything Is Wrong". It surpasses any expectation I had prior to listening. Confrontational designs dark rhythms, chilling beats and haunting layers into his remixes as well as his own works. Confrontational is a can’t miss addition to any collector of darkwave, synthwave and cinematic scores. Each and every collaborator adds so much to the release. This was certainly a treat compliments of Nadanna Records and Tobias Bernstrup.
Overall Tobias Bernstrup satisfies on all levels. The music is top notch, the vocals are melodic and pleasant, the mastering by Doruk Ozturkcan of She Past Away is pristine and the album is an absolute pleasure to play! Well done all around!!!!!!! This is a must have and i'm sure it will be a hot item.
Sep 25 2018
Part time reviewer since 2012 with over 140 contributions with reviews, interviews and news articles.
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