AY AY AY, MATIAS AGUAYO
Kompakt Germany, Chile
by Andrew Casillas
Not to sound like a disgruntled reader or ungrateful writer or anything, but I wish that Club Fonograma could review more techno records from Latin artists. Of course, such a proposition doesn’t have a quick-fix. Most electronic artists prefer the quick 12-inch or EP rather than deliver entire albums of new material. Also, many of the more prominent labels promote compilation packages to showcase their entire roster of artists, like Kompact’s Total series, or the ZZK volumes. Not to mention that none of this staff’s writers could be described as “Beatz-heads,” despite the fact that we like to revel in our share of glitchy wax digi-fun.
So when a prominent techno artist of Latin descent gets around to releasing a full-length album, it’s quite the event around these parts. Thankfully, Chile’s Matias Aguayo has delivered not just one of the best techno records of the year, but one of the best records of the year period. Following up his spellbinding and transcendent singles “Walter Neff” and “Minimal,” Ay Ay Ay continues the evolution of one of today’s most unconventional and unpredictable producers. For 11 charming and breathless tracks, Aguayo seemingly deconstructs minimal techno into a schizophrenic street party of his own creation. From the siren-call laced swagger of “Menta Latte” to the El Guincho-esque faux-African noise collage “Juanita,” there’s enough sound on this album to fill an entire warehouse.
Part of Aguayo’s strength lies in the way that he has developed his own kind of melodic foundation out of an unusual rhythmic structure. Using his own voice as the base from which every track revolves could be a dangerous maneuver for a lesser producer, but Aguayo surrounds himself with enough ear candy to the point where you’re almost compelled to pay attention. Listen to the almost-fervent boombox hums on “Rollerskate,” and how they convey the feeling that you’re actually roller-skating. Pay attention to the cooing harmonies on “Ritmo Juarez,” and how they evoke the sound and feelings of those late nights that can quickly turn into early mornings. The sluggish and fuzzy noises of “Koro Koro,” a reflective piece of trance, that personally creeps this writer out because it sounds a lot like Paul Simon if he had an addiction to cough syrup.
I could continue to point out isolated moments on Ay Ay Ay and explain my personal interpretation of it all. But my personal appreciation isn’t what’s important. It’s how you choose to hear it. There’s so much detail embedded into every track that developing a definitive interpretation would be virtually futile. It’s this attention to the ways that sound can influence mood that makes Aguayo one of the more special artists in his field today. Ay Ay Ay may be built around the concept of a long, sweaty, late summer block party, but it doesn’t reinforce this notion at the expense of giddy listenability. It’s as if the record is telling you to enjoy this exactly how you please, as long as you just simply enjoy it.