Review: Tin Man - Ode


Who is Tin Man? From the storied Wizard of Oz tale, he is a woodman whose love for a woman caused him to be cursed by the witch. He was attacked by his own axe, which destroyed him and his flesh. Without a heart and only a prosthetic body made of tin left, he rusted in place in the outdoors until Dorothy and the Scarecrow discovered him. Together, they embarked to the City of Emeralds where he could ask the Wizard for a heart.

Of Finnish descent, the born Californian Tin Man aka Johannes Auvinen, purports to go on a similar journey, in search of his true self through music as the medium. Since releasing his first album ‘Places’ in 2004, ‘Ode’ is his 7th album. And along with his earlier LP ‘Neo Neo Acid’ (2012), is released on the Acid Test (sub-label of Absurd Recordings) label, which was founded upon the specific use of the seminal bass synthesizer machine called the Roland TB-303. Known for its acid sound, the Roland TB-303 can be heard in the works of Charanjit Singh, Josh Wink’s ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ and Phuture’s ‘Acid Trax’. Other producers in the Acid Test family include Iron Curtis along with his collaborator Edit Piafra known as Achterbahn D’Amour, Recondite, Holder Zilske, Skudge and Donato Dozzy.

It goes without saying that Tin Man has built a mastery over the synthesizer. In an earlier interview with RA, he shares, “I fell in love with it so much that I could listen to acid house in the morning for breakfast," he says, "drinking my coffee listening to some mental acid tunes."

See his top 5 favourite acid tracks here:

‘Ode’, however, as can be expected of the producer, is less freaked out breakfast mental and more, if one can say, measured. Doses of baselines are dished out in just-right doses, just enough to play its musical place in the overall track composition, rather than take centre stage as a leading mind-numbing synth line. In a sea of producers shouting for a hit, this quiet measured calm is indeed refreshing and soothing to hear. The album title itself already hints at a something more poetic, with the classical definition of the word ‘ode’ used to mean “an elaborately structured poem” in praise or glory. Tin Man is the manifestation of acid that has matured, refined, evolved.

Upon a backdrop of carefully constructed rhythmic patterns comprised of twitching hi-hats, shuffling shakers and chugging groove, tracks such as the opening ‘No New Violence’, ‘In Your System’ and the title track ‘Ode’ showcase Tin Man’s trademark cool and steely melodies. Subtle, understated, personal and imaginative, a slight twist of a knob is capable of transforming a pure sine tone into something darker and more sinister. The sweet and addictive melancholy stops for “bigger room” tracks such as ‘What A Shame’ and ‘Vertigo’, the latter which even introduces a groovy element on the edges of house, of which Chicago house is purportedly too a love of the producer.

Of special note, available are 4 vocal takes on the CD version, which catapult his tracks into a different dimension altogether. It almost is hard to decide which version is better. Tin Man’s own deliberately lazy, narcotized vocals dragged through a vocoder are part-spoken word, part-poetry enunciating his tracks to life, like a narrator to an unfolding scene. An atonal quality brings a folk or blues radio-like storytelling to the deeper tracks, ‘No New Violence’ and ‘Memorphillia’ while adding a more direct human connection to the more upbeat numbers, ‘What A Shame’ and ‘Vertigo’, which I would imagine to float above you in an embrace on the dance floor.

Another defining effort from the respected and influential Tin Man, a producer’s producer.

Tracklist (2 x LP)
01. No New Violence
02. In Your System
03. Depleted Serotonin
04. What A Shame
05. Vertigo
06. Memorphillia
07. Ode

Tracklist (CD)
01.  No New Violence (vocal)
02.  In Your System
03.  Depleted Serotonin
04.  What A Shame
05.  Vertigo (vocal)
06.  Memorphillia (vocal)
07.  Ode
08.  No New Violence (instrumental)
09.  What A Shame (instrumental)
10.  Vertigo (instrumental)
11.  Memorphillia (instrumental)