Always one of dance music's more unconventional popular producers, almost ten years into his career, Matias Aguayo remains one of its most charming shapeshifters. Beginning with Dirk Leyers as half of Closer Musik—one of the foundational acts who helped forge Kompakt's gauzy brand of turn-of-the-century minimal—Aguayo returned to the Cologne label to issue one of its most bewildering and consistently engaging full-lengths mid-decade, the skeletal hypnotism of solo debut, Are You Really Lost. In the years since, after two increasingly dank, demented Soul Jazz singles, his production style has evolved to the point where the relatively streamlined music of both his and dance music's recent past formed a titular joke for last summer's swanky hedonistic smash Kompakt 12-inch, "Minimal."
Though his new album, Ay Ay Ay, finds birth on the label that's been such a big part of his past, its sweaty, studio-jam playfulness owes far more to his new Cómeme imprint. Ay Ay Ay's street-carnival aesthetic—so organic, so alive—sounds informed by the BumBumBox parties Aguayo and friends have been throwing around Buenos Aires of late: an urban boombox assault of sorts, where Aguayo et al. play short DJ sets culled from friends over the internet in large public spaces. Recorded variously in Buenos Aires, Chile, Paris and finally Berlin, Ay Ay Ay draws from the heat and swagger—the sense of loose loping developments—of both South American and African cumbia and funk templates. As foreseen on "Walter Neff," Ay Ay Ay stitches Aguayo's voice into most of its melodic and rhythmic structures; his vocals are melded into every foundation, part beat-boxer, part whistler and moaner, part bizarre shower chanteur.
But for all its frolic, there's a blurry sleeplessness threaded through the album's deranged chants, the product of too many dim mad nights that settle into foggy mornings. The album revels in a narcotic, half-nod atmosphere. Aguayo's always had a shrewd talent for inducing a trance, without resorting to the form's crudest anthemic gestures. With its tight lipped bum-bum-bum chants and cowbell flecked rhythms, "Me Vuelvo Loca" is three-and-a-half minutes of chirpy Aguayo delirium, while the lean, strutty "Menta Latte" will appeal to fans of "Walter Neff"'s mesmerizing grooves. Atop punchy bass, serene vocal moans and traditional African melodies, "Koro Koro" simmers like a Serengeti morning still far from midday boil.
Still, Ay Ay Ay ain't really just a barbecue jam. It wouldn't be nearly as successful without maintaining a subtle narrative ebbing, and its slimmer moments remove some of its lather. Lead single "Rollerskate" bumbles over several intersecting vocal parts—vooms, ta-ca-dattas and some kind of whoomp—all sputtered out in rhythmic tandems. Likewise, the title track forms a long steady gallop from nothing more than slow gummy bass, tribal beats and Aguayo's vocal circus. "Juanita" spills over its own edges, its clattering rhythms and blurts of what might be an accordion left to shapeless play in a room scattered empty by night. Take advantage of it while it lasts, for a breath or a sip of water. It's a moment of uneven restraint before the whole place starts to shake anew.
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Tracklist: Matias Aguayo - Ay Ay Ay 01. Menta Latte
02. Ritmo Tres
04. Desde Rusia
05. Ritmo Juarez
06. Koro Koro
07. Mucho Viento
08. Ay Ay Ay
09. Ay Shit - The Master
10. Me Vuelvo Loca
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