So it’s come to this: I am Club Fonograma’s de facto electronic music writer. So to all of you Beatz-headz out there, I apologize for whatever asinine comparisons I’ll end up writing in this and future reviews. Moving on to new business, we have this release from Chilean troupe De Janeiros. To be honest, this was a bit of a difficult album to review. It’s unquestionably good, though never great; mostly because it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s good about it.
To elaborate: everything about Plateado, from its track titles, to its cover image, to its (seemingly) deliberate track sequencing, seems to revolve around seeing existence through the “bigger picture.” Thus, the album begins at its most immediate before drifting off into subtle, texterous techno pictures. This keeps the music interesting, even at its most unpalatable, but said music never forms a definite shape that you can latch onto to understand why certain sounds are being made or not being made. Thus, the frustration and the lack of understanding.
As stated above, Plateado begins with its most immediate tracks. The opener, “Montreal,” is undoubtedly the album’s greatest peak, with its swirling keyboards and sound effects, and fire alarm-level of urgency; this is a work that could have easily slotted onto Four Tet’s Ringer EP. From here, we get the white noise-laden “Los Caribes,” which veers very close to the line of “formulaic, lumpy big beat” but contains enough happy surprises (and wind instruments!) to make things interesting and enjoyable. From here, the album takes a drastic turn in tone, becoming starry-eyed and contemplative. “Senderos Hacia Planetas Habitables,” aside from having a pretty awesome title for a high school Spanish writing assignment, is wrought with the sort of cinematic expressionism that acts like Pantha du Prince have made en vogue recently. Had the album continued to progress into this sort of expansion-fueled minutia, it may have made for a more compelling listen. What follows on the rest of Plateado are chunky, formless tracks that sound like the interstitial music for a bad science-fiction program. Hell, hearing the title track ALONE makes me wonder about Scott Bakula’s character ever made it back home on Quantum Leap.
This isn’t meant to be a complete slam on De Janeiros, who are obviously capable of making the sort of immediate “good times techno” that even the most casual of listeners would love. Their ambition is duly noted and admirable, but if I could make one suggestion, please cut down on the sci-fi sound effects, and embrace silence. Just like I do when my techno reviews get too long.