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Damián Schwartz - Party Lovers

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Artist: Damián Schwartz

Album: Party Lovers

Label: Net28

Review date: Nov. 19, 2008

With a title like Party Lovers, you may expect something quite a bit more garish, anthemic or even hedonistic than what Spain’s Damián Schwartz delivers on his startlingly austere debut album. Not that Party Lovers lacks in propulsion – this record is a mosaic of movement scrawled over by spray of aerosol electricity. An amalgam of clackety Detroit robotics, matte-finished Balearic bustle and a charcoal dash of stressed minimalism, it keeps its head down, minding the faders and riding the dials. Largely straying from the linear pulse of techno, Schwartz carefully stacks up interlocking beats in Lego trestles, glued together by goopy bass. Sure, it slinks along, but every composite part is seemingly of a different texture: plastic cracks on chrome and metal rubs against leather.

Every track is equally brittle and lithe. Crackling engines of mechanic rhythm are lacquered in melted rubber under a permanent haze of noxious frequencies. Some diva vamps and other vocals surface, but they have been copiously mutated and masticated. They tease, as in the trimmed implorations of "In the Mood,” or even express rather different, nearly opposite, emotions in their newly warped states. The vocals on "Carolina’s Favorite" are pitched down to a sludgy gelatin making its refrain of "in my heart" far colder than, say, an ecstatic burst of bonhomie. There are echoes of Burial’s lonely ghosts. The restless, barbituric mess of piano notes also adds to a sense of uncanny disembodiment. The tinny flanged choir of "Ordenes de Arriba" even echos Stefan Goldmann’s eerie "Lunatic Fringe."

Elsewhere, the one-word sample that nettles "Continuamente" sounds more like Super Mario’s spring-heeled 8-bit bounce. In fact, it’s the barbed, lo-tech patina of Party Lovers that really surprises. Far from minimalism’s glossy sheen and toned digitalia, Schwartz’s prefers not just oily arpeggios and blocky beats; he consistently transmits a bleary rainbow of hiss and radiation. From buzzing wasps to seething oscillators, Party Lovers sizzles with voltage. Combine with sweat and mind the shocks.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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