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Artist: Ricardo Villalobos

Album: Fabric 36: Ricardo Villalobos

Label: Fabric

Review date: Jan. 8, 2008


Ricardo Villalobos - "M.Bassy" (Fabric 36: Ricardo Villalobos)


Luxuriant and techy, the dance music of Chileno-Deutsch visionary Ricardo Villalobos challenges the conventions of its dissemination just as much as it confounds its own genre tropes. Since his last album, 2004's dank delight Thé Au Harem D'Archimède, Villalobos has released, among other things, a multi-sided EP (the dismembered gamelan scuffles of Achso), a glacier-sized single (Fizheuer Zieheuer, plumes of regal brass drifting over a carpet of clip-clops) and several remixes that hardscape source materials into slabs of purring doom (2007's "Apocalypso Now" rendering of Shackleton’s "Blood On My Hands" is all stomach-turning screw and no chop). Villalobos' contribution to the noted Fabric mix series (highlights from the 2007 slate included sets from Ewan Pearson and Ellen Allien), is packed entirely with his own material. A megalomaniac indulgence or a crowning act of subversion, Fabric 36 finds Villalobos at his most playful and, often, adventurous. It’s truly self-reflexive.

A fibrous simmer – clicks, cracks and claps sizzling like gristle – ring the chatter of throb and snare that powers the disc through a reverberant maze. By crafting a mix where monads and motifs can linger, stretch, or cycle through multiple tracks, Villalobos allows himself to pile disparate contents into vertical montages of near-Orb density. After some disembodied grunts and groans, human voices become fiercely present in polyphonous vamps; Jorge Gonzales is ground through Villalobos' oil-lined filters on the pop-approaching "4 Wheel Drive." But it’s the pitch-bent conversation over rattling Taiko percussion of the 12-minute "Andruic & Japan" that may be the singular artifact of Fabric 36. Mic-goofing between Villalobos and one Andrew Gillings transferred to an androgynous helium-high register speaks of home-studio intemperance, the kind that gobbles up both hard drive space and brain cells ("Live always a decadent life," proclaims one of the chipmunks.)

The cheering chorus of “Primer Encuentro Latinoamericano de la Soledad" by Chilean folk-proggies Los Jaivas with Brazil's Manduka winds through an omni-directional churn as Villalobos manages a "Fizheuer Zieheuer" effect, a sizable sample seamlessly splicing itself into the mutant fabric of a track, but in a quarter of the time. But it’s just as much the fleeting syncopation of laptop indigeston with dinged hi-hats, the flashes of muffled blips on plasmic synths, the policy of impermanence, that makes Fabric 36 more than just a dizzying galaxy of ideas. The highest-profile participant of the techno vanguard, Villalobos' latest conceit has yielded perhaps a definitive statement of his metamorphic practice.

By Bernardo Rondeau

Other Reviews of Ricardo Villalobos

Thé Au Harem d’Archimède

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