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The Third Man - Clarion Call


It’s a sign of techno’s peculiar creative stasis right now that new and upcoming producers still prefer to draw their influence from respected and stalwart aspects such as Detroit and Berlin rather than other, harsher and more uncertain elements.

Toby Leeming’s debut LP for Ai encapsulates this approach, taking recognisable nods from the Motor City and the lush space of Berlin, and providing us with an 8 track album of solid dancefloor material that doesn’t break any new ground, but is underscored by solid production and no filler. It’s a workmanlike piece of music that doesn’t engage emotionally, the production at points almost battering the listener into accepting that they must move, yet Leeming’s melodic gifts are without doubt, especially on the album’s high point “East Anglia Blues”, moody and atmospheric synths wrapping around a snake-like bassline that contrast well against the general hi-octane approach elsewhere, and in “Hemsby Acid” (I imagine the Bloc festival had something to do with this!) Carl Craig-style strings complement a thumping ostinato-style bass that is topped off nicely with some tasty 303 action. The thumping electro of “Synchronoise” and “Flaccid House” demonstrate an acute ear for peak-time floorfillers, and in “Attacks” there are hints of the lush techno that Kirk De Giorgio made a name for himself with.

I found it hard to warm to “Clarion Call” as a cohesive album given the rather linear approach and lack of emotional input, but as a collection of solid dancefloor tracks, it would be hard to hear anything in techno that can match this in 2008, especially given the range of sounds and rhythms on show. Leeming’s gifts in arrangement and composition aren’t in doubt, and I suspect that in the near future we may hear more exciting material from him.

Toby Frith

Third Man website

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