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Matias Aguayo - Ay Ay Ay

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Artist: Matias Aguayo

Album: Ay Ay Ay

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Oct. 27, 2009

Matias Aguayo has a lot to live up to – as part of Closer Musik, he was half-responsible for one of the noughties’ greatest end-of-the-night anthems, “(One Two Three) No Gravity.” That he’s never quite reached that form again isn’t necessarily an unforgivable state of affairs, though it suggests he’s best when applying himself to a collaborative endeavour (his first solo album, Are You Really Lost, was fun, but “De Papel” apart now feels fairly inconsequential).

Ay Ay Ay’s concept is that it’s mostly composed of vocal noises – the melodies, rhythms, chants, etc., all emerge from that handsome Chilean visage. Good enough, though it sounds a bit like Dave Aju’s Wide Open with a bit more sex and panache – something Aju’s album needed. But Ay Ay Ay’s hype machine is a little out of proportion to its content. People have been telling me this is their album of the year, which hints that it’s been a pretty crappy year for albums. My problem isn’t so much with any particular track – dip into Ay Ay Ay at leisure and it’s an arresting thing, each song humid with spittle, slick with tongue spit, bumptious and sashaying around the mouth. But when locked together, it’s too homogenous.

By programming “Rollerskate” early in the piece, Aguayo also shows his cards too soon. It’s easily the best thing he’s done since “No Gravity” – intensely catchy, built from a simple and naggingly effective chord sequence that circles like the Magic Roundabout, Aguayo hits an effete, thin falsetto that’s completely endearing. But he doesn’t reach that form again. What appears exciting for “Rollerskate” is overplayed by “Ay Shit – The Master,” and Ay Ay Ay’s internal consistency subsequently becomes its Achilles heel. It’s telling that Ay Ay Ay is exciting when you first read about it, arresting when you first listen, but hard to really engage with after the first few spins. Kinda like a quick fuck – useful at the time, it serves its purpose, but you move on pretty quickly.

Ay Ay Ay is a good party album if you suffer from myopia, and some of its grooves are pretty undeniable when taken on their lonesome. But I suspect Aguayo hasn’t really built something to last here – I can see a lot of listeners obsessing for a few weeks and then falling out of love pretty quickly. Ultimately, Ay Ay Ay is a classic single (“Rollerskate”) searching for a great album.

By Jon Dale

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