Having just seen Brazilian minimal techno extraordinaire Gui Boratto for the first time at Electric Zoo in New York this weekend, there was really no better time for me to check out his new album, III (out September 13 in North America on Kompakt) than now, when I am still riding the afterglow of his set, one of my favorites of the festival. Gui's minimal style was especially refreshing amidst all of the raging electro and house that I saw at the Zoo, but that's not to say his set was a "break" by any means: it was actually a major pick-me-up on a Sunday afternoon when I thought the only feeling I was capable of was exhaustion.
I guess that what I like most about this album is that you can literally do anything with it it: I fell asleep to it last night, two days after I had danced my heart out to many of the same tracks. When the bass is pounding loudly enough, this tracks can feel intense and urgent, but when the volume's a bit lower, they can feel calming and ambient. Minimal music can sometimes fall into a boring category where everything sounds the same, a category where I'd exclusively listen to this music either live (when it's loud and danceable) or as I fall asleep, relying on repetition to lull me into slumber, but there's plenty of variation between distinct tracks here, variation that turns it into an album that I find myself actively listening to over and over again.
Many of these tracks would not seem the least bit out of place on a movie soundtrack. "Stems from Hell" feels like a treacherous jungle hunt. "Striker" brings a heavy, percussive sound that continues this sense of something pressing, bringing in a strained, dark vocal (one that's not too attention-seeking but definitely adds to the ambiance of the track). Not all of the tracks are quite so heavy and dark. "Flying Practice" has a more peaceful, airy tone, and "Trap" and "Soledad" bring a more slowed-down kind of melancholy. "Destination: Education" is a more tradition-feeling minimal track. "The Third" perfectly balances glitchy outbursts with comforting repetition. The album wraps up with "This Is Not The End feat. Luciana Villanova," which in some strange way manages to feel like a minimal techno facsimile of an indie pop track (something about the instrumentation and how the track builds up creates this feeling).
I could definitely see Gui Boratto's III occupying a significant place in my mental list of top albums of 2011. I think it would be an especially good album for someone early in their explorations of the more minimal side of electronic music, since it's got weight and excitement throughout that make it very listenable in just about any situation. Seasoned fans will appreciate it as well. Gui Boratto, you're the cream of the crop!
Purchase: Gui Boratto - III