Atom™ & Tobias Métropolis, Montreal QC, May 30

Atom™ & Tobias Métropolis, Montreal QC, May 30
Photo: Kamielle Dalati-Vachon
You can tell that Uwe Schmidt and Tobias Freund are not only consummate professionals, but also masters of their domain. They've individually been performing for over two decades, but have also worked together since the early '90s. This connection is nowhere more apparent than during their live set as Atom™ & Tobias. Presenting the Canadian premier of their new project at the Métropolis, they delivered a master class of pure technical skill, understated showmanship and impeccable pacing.
Things started off almost frustratingly simple, with four outward-facing purple beams as the only visual support for their minimal looping. Highly repetitive with only a few occasional blips and claps, their set hinted at something straightforward but perfectly executed, if maybe a tad too monotonous. But soon, they somehow managed to make this monotony interesting, keeping attendees not only on their feet, but on their toes. Schmidt and Freund demonstrated a great synergy on stage, often moving in sync in a seemingly choreographed routine, a testament to their long-lasting working relationship.
It's surprising how a set can go from being largely banal to utterly entrancing in a matter of minutes, often without you immediately noticing — perhaps it was because they were never showy, just offering solid techno. Just like the blurring letters in the background that would ebb in and out of focus — like your annual visit to the optometrist — their sound would intermittently creep up on you, creating a surprisingly soothing experience. At times, you could almost hear two distinct tracks being played, one on the surface, and another being crafted secretly within it. Their set went through so many permutations, but they did so without calling attention to themselves.
It's performances like these that remind you that sometimes the old guard just does it better, while still managing to keep a few tricks up their sleeves.