tobias. / o.utlier, Classics / For One Of The Least (Main Pass)

Artwork by Roland Flexner


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What exactly makes a record a DJ tool? Plenty of techno, almost by definition, falls into the category, but some records practically beg to be played with. It’s a tricky thing to pull off — not nearly as simple as just a kick and hi-hat (though sometimes it can be even simpler than that). True DJ tools, the real good stuff, aren’t boring shells that need something added to be worthwhile: they’re hypnotic, reduced, and playful structures that reach deep into the brain, tickling and igniting creativity in the minds of DJs and listeners alike.

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It’s hard to know what exactly to make of Efdemin’s Naïf label, with it’s almost once-yearly schedule and one-track-per-side split releases, but for me, Naïf is one of the finest DJ tool labels going. Kicking off with Nina Kravitz and Efdemin himself back in 2009, each release has been a top-class example of pared-down, effective dance tracks just begging to be stashed in a record bag. This year’s missive, from Tobias. and the unknown o.utlier (whose text styling bears striking resemblance to Freund’s) ranks as another quality installment. “Classics” is the kind of insistent analog jam that fans have come to know and love from Tobias., with its five-note bass line pattern laser-focused and sparse percussion working the floor with ease. Sounds flow in and out and the occasional vocal sample rears its head, but for the most part “Classics” is eight minutes of simple dance floor magic, eager to do its thing regardless of what comes before or after it. Even better is the low-slung, trippy acid bass line of o.utlier’s “For One Of The Least (Main Pass).” Like its A-side partner, it’s a slowly upbuilding cut whose occasional bass line shifts and percussive outbreaks hypnotize effortlessly. Combine these two with some strange bits tucked away at the end of each side (including some fiddled-with excerpts from a George Harrison interview), and you have a strong 12″ for DJs and the home-listening crowd alike.

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