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Gustavo Lamas - Brotes

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Artist: Gustavo Lamas

Album: Brotes

Label: Onitor

Review date: Mar. 22, 2004

The music of Gustavo Lamas initially appears to cleave toward the familiar: brittle minimalism, the sober sound placement of the German school of electronic music, etc. It’s a field that isn’t exactly sparsely populated, and although Lamas is skilled at rendering this particular sound in serviceable fashion, Brotes initially strikes as more of the same. Once you shimmy past the chopped-up folk-pop samples that litter opening track “Sabremos,” Lamas’ parameters and constraints are self-evident. Another tech-house record outlined by dub practice.

Peel back Brotes’ contours, though, and small details start to tumble out, re-routing the familiar into something slightly off-kilter. The more predictable pared-back moments of frosty sublimity dotted throughout the album are balanced by heavier, more anchored tracks. “Inocentes” builds into a piece so thick and dense with post-Chain Reaction fog and blur that it’s overwhelming: there are so many layers of pulsation and sound, it’s like walking waist-deep in sleet and snow, trying valiantly to maintain pace against the slurry. A beautiful experience, but for an artist whose work is generally contextualized – by myself, for example – within minimal techno, this is about as ‘minimal’, relative to Lamas’ peers, as a Hermann Nitsch aktion.

Of course, Lamas can also essay a slender piece of minimal house restraint, like the gilded glide of “Profundos”, where simple guitar strums act as propellant force for a buffered, breathless stride, or the following “Tiernos”’s graceful radiance. There is plenty of ‘signature sound’ here, but Lamas renders that signature in slightly different configurations, writing with the left instead of the right, letting slightly incongruous elements bubble up through the mix.

“Profundos” and “Nostalgicos” share texturological concern with Berlin’s Chain Reaction crew – endless gun-metal grey, waves of tones like white sheets pulled out of an all-colour wash – but whether it’s Lamas’ Buenos Aires base, or a natural proclivity toward cross-referencing a seemingly boxed-in area of creative endeavor, Brotes ends up drawing a few subtly different conclusions from the same set of integers. It may be a small field of study, but there’s always something new written in the sidelines, stitched into the hem of the music.

By Jon Dale

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