Todd Osborn, 303 / 909


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Even as technological advances have globalized dance music, the comforts of working with someone from your home state or town cannot be denied. Polymath producer Todd Osborn of Ann Arbor, Michigan probably agrees, having housed much his music with labels headquartered close to home. His Osborne guise is a long time staple of Ann Arbor-founded Ghostly International and Spectral Sound’s overlapping rosters; self-released tapes as Superstructure and records while collaborating with Tadd Mullinix on drum n’ bass; and most recently put out an album’s worth of material digitally with Moongadget, a Ghostly affiliate. His first 12″ in a few years also arrives courtesy of 7777, personal imprint of burgeoning Detroit producer Jared Wilson. Like the label boss — a noted admirer of vintage sounds — 303/909 is rooted in the familiar pleasures of classic gear with a few twists.

For those of us who know him best with an “e” at the end of his surname, Osborn’s latest under his given name has a certain rawness to it, like a fine car whose shine has worn off over time. The titular synth in “303” all but snorts as it bobs through wiry hi-hats until a flush of melody triggers even darker acid patterns. These near cosmic interventions makes the growling motif seem even gruffer by comparison, rounding out what would have been a decent acid track with great flair. “909” is far more varied and colorful. A warm, gently overdriven bass line is the diving board from which two spirited synth lines launch themselves, giving the track a boundless energy barely contained by nimble and unobtrusive 909 percussion. DJs will reach for it later in the night even though it’s a modest 123ish BPM, allowing its dual 80s/90s charms to provide an adrenaline shot earlier in the night, as well. 303/909 works well within Todd Osborn’s wheelhouse, and it’s that security which freed him to create something compelling regardless.

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