Matias Aguayo – “The Visitor” (Comeme)

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Matias Aguayo has returned after four years of capitalising on the success of his last album the brilliant “AyAyAy” (2009) (where everything on the album was produced using just Aguayo’s voice) with his impromptu outdoor club night BumBumBox and Comeme label. Aguayo has given himself a lot to live up to on “The Visitor”.

It turns out that it’s an album of two halves on the one hand there’s some really great tracks full of fantastic percussion, hooky vocals and amazing synth sounds. On the other hand there’s a lot track that feel very functional or promise a build to a thrilling climax but fail to deliver. The album gets off on the good foot with the salacious percussion work out that is ‘Rrrrr’. However, track two ‘Dear Inspector’ is the first disappointment on the album after setting the scene with a dark and almost whispered sound, the tension builds and the track threatens to build up to an explosive climax that unfortunately never comes. Things pick up again with the post-punk gone techno sound of ‘By the Graveyard’ recalling Cabaret Voltaire in both its semi industrial percussion, murky vocals and dub effects, the lyrics recall fellow post-punk destroyers Suicide. ‘Llego El Don’ shares a similar atmosphere to ‘By the Graveyard’ but feels flat never getting out of first gear. The poppy and upbeat yet bass heavy ‘Una Fiesta Diferente’ brings the quality level back up and the busy beat and muffled synth bass of ‘El Sucu Tucu’ take things up another level, definitely one of the albums highlights.

‘Aonde’ starts promisingly before losing its momentum part way through and can’t quite fully regain it. ‘El Camaron’ treads a similar path to ‘Aonde’ but is one of dullest tracks on the album. ‘Do You Wanna Work’ is a thrilling oddity with its wet drums that sound like there being played in the jungle undergrowth of South America, throw a bendy metallic synth melody and ripped paper effects and you’ve got something truly unique. ‘Las Cruces’ utilises similar drum sounds topped off with a complimentary eerie synth melody. Another big album highlight is ‘Levantate Diegors’ with its semi industrial beat, zooming synth bass and Aguayo stop-start vocals its set up a tense track that actual reaches its destination and doesn’t disappoint. The album finishes with the shuffling Latin rhythm, creaking dark synth melody and metallic percussion sounds of ‘A Certain Spirit’ the title of which maybe a reference to Manchester post-punk band A Certain Ratio who created similarly dark and percussive music.

“The Vistor” is a difficult album to recommend but also has a hand full of brilliant tracks. My advice to those interested in the album would be to give a though listen before purchasing and then maybe just cherry pick your favourite tracks.

Run The Jewels – “Run The Jewels” (Fools Gold)

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Having worked together on the finest hip-hop release of 2012 “R.A.P. Music” El-P and team up again for their new project Run The Jewels. The duo has talked about this being their ‘fun’ album and as much as it sounds like they had fun making it, this is a serious hip-hop album both lyrically and sonically.

The album opens with its title track which instantly sets the tone for the rest of the album with its chattering hi-hat, 808 beat and minimal deep synth bass line. In the chorus El-P introduces a great screaming organ lead and employs Dub FX and a subtle reggae rhythm plays beneath the hard hitting hip-hop surface. Mike kicks off ‘Banana Clipper’ with the great lines “I move with the elegance of an African elephant, I presented the evidence, Eloquent as a president, Evident it’s with emphasis, I deserve me a championship, But before I banana clip, I’mma chill so my man can rip”. Later he praises his partner in crime while slamming boastful producers with a wry smile – “Producer gave me a beat, Said it’s the beat of the year, I said El-P didn’t do it, So get the fuck outta here”. All this delivered over sharp horn stabs and a double time beat. ‘36” Chain’ is a great example of El-P’s skill in creating multi textured tracks with its blocky synth stabs, video game blips and heavily compressed and reverbed snare combing to stunning effect.

‘Job Well Done’ is another album highlight and another track that demonstrates El-P amazing use of texture and space. His achieves this using discordant guitar and distant vocals adding more space and texture. The drums also have a great feel, pushing and pulling the listener. There’s also great use of dueling synth melodies and vocals in the chorus. The album ends with ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle’ which combines sleigh bells, electric piano chords and a siren synth, everything is processed to feel corroded and dirty adding to the dystopian atmosphere.

All-in-all you couldn’t ask for more from “Run The Jewels” a hard hitting and full realised hip-hop album from start to finish, only time will tell whether matches up to “R.A.P. Music”.

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