By now, the Kompakt office must be so jam-packed with hopeful demos that you couldn’t blame them if they threw their hands in the air like they just didn’t care and binned the lot of it. Yet rumour has it they actually sit down and listen to it all, which surely must be a thankless task, but it is one we should be grateful for when it unearths diamonds in the rough like Gui Boratto.
Boratto is not a name to grace many a flyer as of yet, but his slow-burning ‘Arquipélago’ 12" on Kompakt offshoot K2 sneaked its way into the crates of the likes of Tiefschwarz and Steve Bug, which is to say it has been caned by absolutely everyone. You’ve probably heard it, but if you haven’t, you will this summer, and that’ll be a good thing.
Surprisingly, Boratto’s follow-up is on Kompakt Pop, the label offshoot not exactly for pop per se but for club cuts with pop vocals. The original comes with a remix by label bigwigs Michael Mayer and Superpitcher billed as Supermayer, which sounds a lot better than 'Mayerpitcher' I guess but still makes me think of conjoined twins. Still, the previous Supermayer outing was a rejig of Losoul’s ‘You Know’, which had one of the best basslines ever, so hopes were high.
Of the two the Supermayer track holds more ground: it’s has crisper and cleaner production and a trick up its sleeve that the original lacks.
Gui’s track essentially breaks down and then builds up the verse of a (discarded?) pop song: there’s a few bars of everything with a very eighties-inflected vocal, but then the keyboards go, the cymbals go, then the drums, and then you’re just sitting there listening to the bass. It’s a pop striptease. But just when it gets down to its knickers, the track puts slowly its clothes back on again. All very well and good I suppose, but it doesn’t arouse me. The problem is that the pop verse being deconstructed on ‘Like You’ is a dowdy workhorse, as verses are supposed to be, and listening it slowly denuding is just not that sexy.
Flip over to the Supermayer and gone are the rock bass and the reverbed drums, and in their place is one fantastic trick: a synth which has been cleverly programmed to burst and wobble like ecstasy. And that is enough. One imagines Mayer and Axel sitting around like the audiophiles they must be polishing this synth until was crystal clear and bursting with joy. Their attempt still doesn’t quite manage to excise the dreariness of the vocal line but there’s enough of that synth to lift punters off their toes.
In the end, as with all pop, it’s all about the vocal. When the melody line is inspired, such as on ‘A Difference It Makes’ or Oxtongue’s ‘Delight’, the effect is dazzling. When it is not, such as here or on Mayer’s remix of ‘I Built This City’ (which one wag ruined for me forever by pointing out that the vocal sounds like Tony Blair), it’s decidedly ho hum. But man, what a beautiful synth.
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