Rating: 8.5 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Kompakt
What a fractious and hard to please lot us techno fans can be. Perhaps it’s a defence mechanism against the likes of Richie Hawtin with his ‘z-planes’ and daft haircuts and capes and cubes, but there seems to be an in-built cynicism to most techno listeners. Hell, even bone fide geniuses like Villalobos (for that is, surely, how history will judge him) come up against the suspicion that they’re just emperors’-new-clothes poseurs.
But things are different when it comes to Matias Aguayo. People, even people who hate pretty much everything else, love this guy. Admitting you don’t like him in trendy techno circles marks you out as one big sick weirdo; you may as well tattoo ‘paedo’ on your forehead while you’re at it. So, why all the love for Matias? I think it’s something do with the emotional honesty of his music. While there’s a nagging feeling that much contemporary techno is merely style (however dazzling) over substance, Aguayo’s music feels real.
If, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, this world is a fair one, then Ay Ay Ay will push the Aguayo love to a whole new level. While he made his name making darkly romantic heroin-house, first as a member of Closer Musik and later on his solo debut Are You Really Lost, here Aguayo takes a huge, soaring leap sideways.
I’m not sure that music like this has ever been made before. Essentially, Ay Ay Ay is a vocal record. Matias layers together dozens of snippets of his sweetly reedy voice. And that, aside from a clatter of afro-house beats, is pretty much that. The results are stunning – verdant dream-pop heard as if underwater, heavenly West African melodies strewn among slurred sighs of pleasure, the blips of vocals rising and bursting like thousands of tiny bubbles. In both its construction and its tone, Ay Ay Ay recalls Panda Bear’s Person Pitch, but while Panda Bear had rich shoots of pop classicism running through his vocal experiments, Aguayo’s songs here are so much more amorphous, setting sail for the far out beyond, right on the edge of structure and sense. I’m struggling for precedents here, such is the originality of these works, but another comparison, perhaps, would be Tom Tom Cub. Not that Ay Ay Ay sounds like them, but there’s a similar feeling through out; an endless summer of unself-conscious joy at bringing together a huge range of influences and cultures into glowing and weightless tunes. This is a wonderful record, so good and so new that, really, I’d say get two copies; one for you, and one for someone you love.