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"An ode to depleted serotonin"
"At his best when following his oddest impulses"
"What might literally be the deepest techno music out there"
"A sonic distillation as nuanced, stylized, and cinematic as anything playing at your local art house"
"Tin Man goes straight for the gut. From his booming 808 kick drums to his viscous midrange,
his music is a visceral presence, one that at times seems to be rumbling deep inside you"
"Leonard Cohen on codein, Beck on heroin, David Gahan on his deathbed"
"master of noir-ish suspense"
"Buy it before it gets raw, and it will be raw for sure…"
The last year sees Tin Man touring around the world sharing his style in many venues. Some highlights include his first appearances in China and Japan, and also in some very respectable international house and techno clubs including Rex in Paris, Panorama Bar in Berlin, and Bunker in New York to good reception. Also, in the last year, Tin Man has produced a slew of records and remixes. "Non Neo" from March 2011 was something of an underground dance hit this year and the new full length album "Perfume", has drawn quite some attention. Recently, he also has made remixes for Hit Safe, Donato Dozzy, and Obtane and Gorgio Gigli. Tin Man has also received press, interviews, great reviews, and featured mixes the last year in Groove and De:Bug magazines, as well as online via Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, and Little White Earbuds to mention a few.
Flying low under the radio the last years, TIN MAN has been stirring some interest in a variety of musical circles. His Acid Acid record, while not being too old or too scarce, already fetches hundreds of dollars. This is perhaps because TIN MAN maintains a kind of rawness in his approach to making music and resists the troupes of image based music promotion. Still after more than ten releases in different genres there is no image on his album covers. They still come in a standard format package with varied color shades and hardly varied text formatting. TIN MAN also has established and maintained an individual sound in his production, and that confounds and appeals to just about everyone. Tin Man has released records on divese underground labels including Sähko, Cheap, Absurd, Salon, White Denim, and Global A.
Of Finnish descent, but born and raised in California, TIN MAN now has a home in Vienna, a town perfectly suited to his deep and moody productions. TIN MAN launched his Global A label project in 2004. The first two releases, 'Places' and 'Acid Acid', weighed in at three pieces of vinyl each, and showcased his two major musical passions: fragile deep electronica and acid house. TIN MAN has acclaimed releases on the Finnish record label Sähkö / Keys of Life, Cheap Records from Vienna, and continues with new releases on his own imprint, Global A . While TIN MAN's output is diverse in its references, certain underpinnings can be heard throughout. There is always a strong reference to Acid House music, as well as a strong reference to Ambient and Electronic Pop music from the past 30 years. TIN MAN's newer output features his voice and follows a "concept album" format. Thus, complete records are as important as individual songs. The songs tend to follow a simple structure with changes that grow slowly within motifs. Mood construction and story telling are both equally important. And with each new record, there are new historical references to tell different stories. TIN MAN also continues with his passion for Acid House by continuing to produce retro-acid tracks and playing live shows regularly. These live shows celebrate early house music, its hypnotic charm, and its blissful raw energy.
Tin Man makes music rooted in Acid House. What is Acid House? Depending on where your interests lie, there are quite a few different angles you could approach the subject from. Tin Man comes from the the raw side of the early days of Acid House; the formative years when Acid House broke from Disco and New York House music to focused on a harder funk groove and heavy jacking binary beats. Beyond that, with the introduction of the 303 into the mix, Acid House broke from the musical constraints of other popular dance musics. A constantly modulated, organically developing bass groove caused a major shift in what the focus of electronic dance music could and would be. Some twenty odd years later, this shift is still an exciting root aspect to focus on in dance music.
From the Record : NONNEO
Johannes Auvinen, best known as Tin Man, is the ultimate techno drifter. He's wandered geographically (from Los Angeles to Vienna) and sonically (from twisted post-apocalyptic Chicago etudes to acid-tinged synth pop), and he's never been particularly choosy about his passport (he followed an EP for techno mainstay Cheap by one for outré-indie boutique label White Denim). For an artist so in line with our handcrafted, old-school-obsessed moment, Auvinen is hardly a major player in the zeitgeist. His invisibility might be a shame for dance music, but I'm guessing being "neglected" suits the eternally downtrodden Tin Man just fine.
But mark my words: the mystery won't last through 2011. It can't. His latest 12″, this time for LA-based Absurd Recordings as part of their new Acid Test series, is just too good. It would be an incredible record if only for "Nonneo," a new Tin Man joint which is brighter, punchier, and more floor-ready than practically any other record in his discography. But the fact that Donato Dozzy, the Italian techno shaman and elite member of mnml ssgs's spank bank, has supplied a remix of "Nonneo" — one which transforms the original into one of the most otherworldy instrumentals to grace my inbox in a few minutes — seems destined to shine a very bright light on one of techno's palest denizens.
"Nonneo" hardly even plays like a Tin Man track: gone are the nihilistic vibes, the creeping sense of dread, and, most noticeably, the severely out-of-it vocals that have been the hallmark of his last three releases. Build around a tantalizing and surprisingly emotive bass line — acid enough to qualify for inclusion in a 12″ series dedicated to the stuff, but heaps smoother than so many of today's throwback tracks — "Nonneo" swells with colorful details. Anyone familiar with "Constant Confusion" must think I'm pulling their leg, but should Tin Man's creation hang around until summer it may find itself soundtracking many a long and humid evening. "Accumulated Acid" feels like the perfect morning-after accompaniment to whatever party introduced you to "Nonneo": merging the Trax back catalog with Brian Eno's greatest ambient hits, it sounds like a sunrise you've long been awaiting.
On the flip lives Dozzy's "Nonneo" rework, and you'd be forgiven for putting the needle to it first: Dozzy and Tin Man aren't exactly a match made in heaven, but something about the combination immediately sets a techno fanboy's mind aflutter. It's unfortunate that Dozzy didn't get his hands one of Tin Man's vocal cuts, but he's found a world of trippiness in "Nonneo"'s bass line, which he milks to maximum hallucinatory effect. The remix neither bests the original nor falls short of it, instead providing a minimalist and thoroughly in-the-zone contrast that at times sounds more Tin Man than the man himself does at the moment. But with a release as good as this one, Johannes Auvinen has plenty to smile about. The year is quite young, but I for one already have a favorite record.
Jordan Rothlein / Little White Earbuds
From the record : SCARED
On his new track "Space Case," Johannes Auvinen, AKA Tin Man, drawls the following line through a vocoder: "You've got your head in the clouds, touch your feet down to the ground, we miss you here..." After hearing his latest record, fans of Tin Man's early work might find that line weirdly poignant; the Finnish-born, California-raised and Vienna-based artist was once a champion of DJ-friendly acid house, but his last few records have slipped further and further into leftfield. Much like Wasteland, his mini-album from 2008, Scared shows him slinking through one eerie dreamscape after another, with nothing as danceable as last year's "Constant Confusion" in sight. Barring his one full-on drone record, it's probably Tin Man's most challenging effort yet, and also his most daring.
The most immediately grabbing tune on Scared is without a doubt the title track. Tin Man is a master of noir-ish suspense, and this one shows his talents at full tilt: from beginning to end, he flirts with a punchy minimal beat that never quite delivers, clicking into place for one bar and falling apart the next, over and over again. This tension is enhanced by some sleep-deprived chords and murky background sounds, and somewhere, very far back, one of his old acid synth lines.
As on the rest of the record, Auvinen sounds cool and calm, but also in the furthest reach of exhaustion, slurring each half-sung line as if with heavy eyelids. His lyrics are haunting and poetic, and provided you can deal with their broodiness, very impressive. "Zone Unknown" sounds a bit like Soul Capsule's "Waiting 4 a Way," but with lyrics that sound totally oblivious to dance music's usual tropes ("We don't ever really lose ourselves, now do we?") "Birds" ticks along with an eerie lullaby-like quality, while "Self Help" feeds a litany of oblique advice through a vocoder, conjuring Kubrick-esque discomfort. On "Defendant," the record's most austere track, Auvinen repeats the line "defendant… please rise" over a menacing drone and distant pulse.
These deep and dark musings are balanced out (somewhat) by tracks like "Fish," a languid but groovy breakbeat number. "Stand by Me" is the most grounded tune here, with a fairly normal techno beat and romantic lyrics, but it's also by far the weakest. Though the results can be quite drab and depressing, Auvinen is at his best when following his oddest impulses.
Will Lynch / Resident Advisor
Tin Man goes straight for the gut. From his booming 808 kick drums to his viscous midrange, his music is a visceral presence, one that at times seems to be rumbling deep inside you. But that physicality doesn't negate its decidedly ethereal side. Tin Man's is also head music, from its psychoacoustic timbres to muttered vocals that play out like a stoned interior monologue.
This is the seventh record from Tin Man, aka Johannes Auvinen, a Californian musician of Finnish descent who keeps quarters in Vienna. Beginning in 2004, he has released records on Sähko's Keys of Life sub-label, Patrick Pulsinger's Cheap, and his own Global A imprint; Scared turns up on White Denim, a Pennsylvania label that's home to an eclectic set of acts like Nice Nice, Mi Ami, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring.
It might seem like an odd fit for an artist whose core aesthetic principles stem mostly from Chicago house and Hamburg's ambient house, but then, Tin Man has never really made "straight" dance music. He frequently dials his 808 back to a slow-motion crawl, and he suffuses most of his songs with a vocal delivery that sounds like Leonard Cohen on codeine. Unlike herky-jerky "mnml" house, this is truly minimalist stuff, content to leave the rhythmic grid riddled with empty space.
True to its title, Scared is also plenty spooky, although, like most gothic music, it doesn't mind straddling camp. Some of his lyrics-- "The whole world is just dragging me down/ Destroying me/ 'Til there's just a bad feeling left"-- might be mistaken for the writing of Swans' M. Gira, sung in an intonation that borders on the morose. But it's hard not to hear a glimmer of good humor behind even his bleakest lines, as if this were a kind of parody of numbness, a deadpan autism.
Mastered by Dubplates & Mastering's Rashad Becker, Scared luxuriates in sound at its most liquid: Rarely do you hear bass frequencies vibrate the way they do in the title track's opening passage, striking up a seasick harmony against muted electronic tones. Vocoder effects, paired with blurred, swirling synthesizers, similarly evoke underwater sensations, an almost amniotic sense of suspended animation.
It's not hard to spot the influences informing Scared. The reductionist house productions bear comparison to Dial Records' Pantha du Prince and Lawrence; the vocoders immediately recall Ricardo Villalobos' "Easy Lee", while the nimble 808 programming is similar to that of Non Standard Institute's Tobias Freund. But Tin Man doesn't only pull from dance music. His ruminative mood and gravelly Sprechstimme are both anticipated by the Australian band Flash & the Pan's 1978 recording of "Walking in the Rain". I wouldn't be surprised if Auvinen himself didn't know that; it's not a terribly common recording. But the more distant reference points reinforce the sense that Tin Man's talent, beyond songwriting and sonics, has a lot to do with the way he filters far-flung ideas into a unique, unexpected, and almost claustrophobically personal sound.
For all its idiosyncrasies, Scared also feels uncannily current, playing with the same kinds of overcast moods and broken-down tempos, the same K-hole stasis and feel-good bum-out, that you might find running through the music of the xx, Fever Ray, witch house, or Sunn 0))). But Tin Man is also very much different, and seven records later, he sounds more and more like no one except himself. An album perfectly suited to a crash-and-burn era, Scared is an ode to depleted serotonin whose very ambiguity makes it all the more addictive.
Philip Sherburne / Pitchfork
Techno is not my area of expertise. I am not like my friend Fred who discusses countries in terms of BPM. Of course I am a huge fan of Wolfgang Voigt 's Gas, which I saw live last spring, but I can not write a review of this new Tin Man record, Scared, and reference eight other techno records, sorry. So why write about a genre that I know minimal (get it?) about? Well, Tin Man, the moniker of one Johannes Auvinen, is contradictory and disorienting enough to keep my interest. Auvinen's vocals are unsettling, soothing, and uncomfortable all at the same time. From track to track, he offers the listener big questions to ponder about life—"We ask ourselves can we really lose ourselves?" on standout track "Zone Unknown"—while also creepily fondling listeners' ears with odd instructions like, "You could join us, you could join us." The beats linger in the background. At times they sound like they could soundtrack a rave if they were louder or, in the case of side B opener, "Fish," a softcore cinematic feature but like…a really sophisticated and classy one. It is all about the vocals and Tin Man is a fascinating guide to follow for forty minutes and unending repeat listens after that. Auvinen has the kind of voice that could lull you into a deep hypnotic sleep or trance, where the end result is a dream in which something humiliating yet slightly arousing happens and you wake up confused, unsure if you are relieved or disappointed that it was all a dream. Listening to Tin Man is guaranteed to amplify any and all experiences.
Jamie Johns / Fader
From the record : COOL WAVE
Since 2004, California-born and Vienna-based Johannes Auvinen has been issuing melancholy, droning homages to acid house, ambient, and brittle synth-wave for Sähkö's Keys of Life imprint and his own Global A label as Tin Man. But it took four years for Auvinen's mélange of classic influences to congeal into something timeless in its own right. Chillingly beautiful, his Wasteland mini-album from 2008 stands as one of the most carefully constructed electronic records and subtly satisfying song cycles of the decade, a rare sort of 12″ whose six tracks — despite club-slaying potential in the hands of adventurous jocks — play better in succession than sandwiched within DJ sets.
Ghostly and probably wearing a cheap suit, Tin Man-the-frontman half-croons across these ominous techno landscapes like David Gahan on his deathbed succumbing to pathological lethargy. Dude's actually got chops, sort of. Coarse and occasionally unintelligible, Tin Man's fragile vocals — hardly some humanizing force — were a potentially derisive and distracting addition to these already singular productions. Luckily, his affected singing and lyrical introspection had some serious payoff. In giving Tin Man a voice (and one quick-witted enough to say more than your rote, pitched-down God of Minimal incantation), Auvinen wrote an album of what might literally be the deepest techno music out there.
Now recording for Vienna techno institution Cheap, Auvinen has returned with Cool Wave, another six-track concept mini-album about fear, loathing, and expensive sound design at the edge of the planet. To call it an even trippier record than its trippy predecessor belies the fact that Cool Wave boasts one of the year's slickest techno singles in opener "Constant Confusion." Smacking of tobias. and Thomas Melchior at their restrained best, the track pairs cracking snare and percolating bass with ambient synth pads and Tin Man's quasi-atonal vocal melody. It's tough to imagine a Tin Man track getting much more anthemic than "Constant Confusion," though it's easy to speculate how most other producers would take this formula over the top. Morsels of rhythmic ornamentation — a twitching hi-hat, a shuffling shaker, a momentary filter abducting an instrument — pass through the mix like phantasms of big moments, amassing tension but opting out of bulldozing you. I can picture Zip snagging "Constant Confusion" and its club-playable B-side counterpart "Riders" for a Perlon slab. On the latter track, Tin Man sardonically urges all us "drifters" and "riders" to "catch a wave tonight" on his ascending pitched toms and triplet delay trails. It might be less easily digested than "Constant Confusion," but its oddball buoyancy might just coax dancers to follow Tin Man's lyrical lead.
Cool Wave's four remaining slots mine almost terrifyingly chilled-out moods and tempos — think elevator music in a David Lynch movie. The title track sports a subtly devastating low-end, the wobbling sonic foil for Tin Man's multitracked, vocoded, and expertly bored syllables. While this heaviness doesn't extend to the following track, "L.A. Sinking," the doom remains in its freezing, sputtering drum programming. You'd be a fool to think the arrangement sounds a little Casio; headphones reveal the insane detail of these samples — tricks you'd imagine only a mastering engineer like Becker could conjure, from pitch-twisting filters on the toms to extreme high-end dub trails. "At the end of every day/ The sun still sets on L.A.," Tin Man informs us repeatedly, as if humanity had long ago fled this city and has to be reminded of its crumbling ruins. On the flip, "California" sets the record's most overtly venomous vocals against its most tender arrangement. As a staid organ hums cryptic chord changes to the beat of a few naked 808 hits, Tin Man fingers the state's false promise, alternately intoning "California" and "catatonia." All good vibes aside, Tin Man suggests, the Golden State is rotten and spineless at its core: "It's never the sun/ To save anyone." He continues this acidic sentiment on "Energia": "We are the ones who ride the waves at the end of days." Endowed with the set's messiest sound palate, this 12″ pressure cooker seems ripe to burst. But our Tin Man, sarcastically Zen to the very end, stuffs a New Age platitude plucked straight from yoga class — "Energia… Energia…" — over this sudden rift and lets the church-like ambience fade out. All in all, it's pretty damning stuff. From his 6,000-mile remove, Johannes Auvinen has crafted a devastating image of his spiritually (and, as of this news cycle, economically) broke homeland. A sonic distillation as nuanced, stylized, and cinematic as anything playing at your local art house, Cool Wave should cement Tin Man's status as one of techno's true eccentrics and auteurs. Seriously lulling grooves aside, you absolutely mustn't sleep on this one.
Jordan Rothlein / Little White Earbuds
From the Record : WASTELAND
*Amazing Narcotic House twelve in some way linked with D+M's legendary engineer Rashad Becker on the same super obscure imprint that gave us that amazing LP documenting Arthur Lipsett's Soundtracks. Limited copies - do not miss!!!!* This has got us rather hot under the collar.
Previous records from Tin Man have explored intensely austere and deeply tripped acid techno territories, but this recent effort slyly shifts into a much darker mode, adding opiated vocals to a sludgy Chicago house template and sending the whole thing tripping through a coldy affected miasmah of electronic drones and icy textures quite unlike owt else.
The sleeve credits the tracks as "Produced by Rashad Becker", which adds to the mystery of this strange sinister record, as Rashad is perhaps best know by his minute inscriptions on the run-out grooves of many records finished at Dubplates and Mastering, where he works as an engineer. This is a brilliantly enigmatic and wonderfully inspired record which we unreservedly recommend. TIP!
from / Boomkat
Tin Man (Johannes Auvinen to his mum), has released four records prior to Wasteland, on his own label Global A and the Sähkö-affiliated Keys of Life. Primarily they have focused on the wider possibilities of the Roland TB-303 drum machine, as evidenced by titles such as Acid Acid, Love Sex Acid and Keys of Life Acid. These records captured the early spirit of experimentation present in the sounds explored by Armando, DJ Pierre and other Chicago House pioneers, documented expertly a few years back on the Soul Jazz compilation Can U Jack?
Wasteland comes with a certain degree of hype absent from previous Tin Man releases. Alongside the usual props from Hardwax ("Killer EP w/ super cool classic Chicago house rooted tunes and some drone/electronica inspired pieces"), the mini-album was also single of the week on Boomkat. Adding to the air of expectation was the credit on the label that Rashad Becker, one of the key players at Berlin's legendary Dubplates and Mastering had a hand in production duties.Perhaps the presence of Becker explains the change in style as Wasteland explores different retro-futurist avenues this time around, with the primary influences being Juan Atkins and Drexciya. "Future Fiction" is the loneliest Model 500 song never written, while opening track "Highway" sounds not unlike Jandek being produced by the Other People Place.
As ever, the Hardwax description is pretty spot-on, with downbeat vocals drifting in and out of murky, stuttering beats and droney soundscapes. The title track is the choice cut, with a laconic vocal telling us to "Just relax, man… it's a wasteland" over a lonely clap and minor keys. 808s and heartbreak indeed. Maybe Kanye West could learn a few things from this guy.
from / Random Circuits
Lately I've been fairly reclusive and moderately tired of my record collection. So I was pretty jazzed to find one of the best records I've heard all year in a music niche I've neglected over the years: house. Tin Man's fourth release, "Wasteland," harkens back to the most barren instances of classic Chicago house tracks, stretching the sound's murkiest undercurrents into desolate, expansive drones that float beneath rhythmic throbs and deep, anesthetize vocals.
"Wasteland" is a dérive through the streets of a city's seedy underbelly, lights streaming past while distant, shadowy decay drifts in and out of sight. Even without the dystopian evocations of the title and lyrics, the record's soundscape signifies a world beyond redemption – cold, indifferent, entropic. The record occupies the same unsettling end times as Scott Walker's The Drift without reveling in its dissonance or hellishness. The tracks are never convoluted or muddled by over indulgence. It's textbook - the way creeps like myself hoped Deep house would sound the first time we heard it.
At its core, "Wasteland" is as much a rock and roll record as it is an electronic dirge or subversion of Chicago house. The spectacle, tension and attitude are all present; that's likely what keeps me coming back for more. Like Kraftwerk's best records, Tin Man never celebrates or condones the austere world his music evokes. It just is. He's content there; he gets it. There are still drugs to take, sex to have, and music to dance to.
from / Anamolous L.A.