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DJ Koze / Matias Aguayo - Kosi Comes Around / Are You Really Lost

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Artist: DJ Koze / Matias Aguayo

Album: Kosi Comes Around / Are You Really Lost

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Oct. 15, 2005

When the votes are in and counted, Kompakt fans might face a strange proposition: Markus Guentner’s 1981 and Ferenc’s Fraximal could well be the strongest single-artist albums on the label this year. The trouble with incessant, near-viral Kompakt love is that its tendency toward hyperbole burdens their key artists with impossible expectations. Last year, Superpitcher and Michael Mayer suffered due to this syndrome, releasing perfectly good albums that received muted responses because they were not as revelatory as their pre-album output. (I am as guilty of this as the next dork.) Conversely, Kompakt artists often don’t help themselves by handing in albums that do not play to their strengths. In 2005, DJ Koze and Matias Aguayo may well face that same scrutiny.

For Koze, it’s not an overwhelming dilemma. Kosi Comes Around is predictably heterogeneous, and there is something endearing about its dilettantism. At times, it is almost coquettish – the closing “Chiminea” strings pellucid guitar strums and lonely piano along an event horizon, recalling Minnie Ripperton or '70s soft pop left out to dry. Some of the best tracks, such as “Raw,” are full of clattering interjections that sound like an army of cap-booted spiders racing through cutlery drawers.

The set’s key moments, however, are its most pared-back, physical interventions: “Don’t Feed the Cat” fires squirming dribble-darts of texture over a jack pulse that carves out huge chunks of space; five-and-a-half minutes in, ADHD synths sweep around your cranium like sheets of metal welding to your skin. Early single “The Geklöppel Continues” cracks open mid-flight with fecal bass blurts that spill from the song’s core.

Are You Really Lost is Matias Aguayo’s debut solo album, after releasing one single in collaboration with Michael Mayer under the Zimt alias, and several singles and an album with Dirk Leyers in the world-beating Closer Musik. Aguayo’s album illuminates who brought what to Closer Musik: on this evidence, Aguayo contributed the uneasily erotic tenor to some of their more dystopian tracks, such as “Closer Dancer” and “You Don’t Know Me.” His vocal delivery slicks the performances with sweat and sex, Are You Really Lost playing out like a soundtrack to sly seduction rituals. Almost everything on the disc is slung low: rhythms that troll around in the twilight, caverns of bass that impact from the waist down, and semiotic vocal swoons and grunts that soundtrack the evening’s play. The opening “De Papel” is the standout, with Aguayo speak-singing an oblique narrative among stray peals and glossy, reverb-swathed tones, but the album mostly maintains an even keel, only dipping with the lackluster “The Green and the Red.” For all the physicality and sensual fervor of Aguayo’s peak hour tracks, though, the real gem is “Well,” where he swoons in falsetto, bathing in the song’s microscopic melancholy. Crisis averted – Aguayo’s album is as cinematically seductive as you had hoped.

By Jon Dale

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