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Gui Boratto - III

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Artist: Gui Boratto

Album: III

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Sep. 15, 2011


Gui Boratto - "Striker" (III)


Two thousand and seven was a very good year for Kompakt and the many listeners the Cologne label helped introduce to techno. Along with The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime, Gui Boratto’s first LP, Chromophobia, helped inject techno into the “indie” conversation. The Brazilian DJ’s debut got a lot of positive notice, but the crossover didn’t carry over when, in 2009, he released Take My Breath Away. I ignored it at the time, but as it turns out, it’s a very good album, too. I have a feeling this year’s III may be fated for the same path.

I don’t mean to belittle its many pleasures. Kicking off with “Galuchat,” whose sweet melody emerges from a half-dozen shifting synth layers, the album’s mood is a touch darker and slower than before — which, weirdly, doesn’t make it any less immediate or mood-enhancing. Then again, its darkness is textural. “Striker” engages in some low-key flirtation with coldwave, building around a dirty bassline and Boratto’s background vocals, but the drum programming keeps it all rooted in a crisp tech-house foundation. It’s about as much change as Boratto is up for on III, and that’s actually a good thing for all but a couple of tracks.

Structurally, “The Drill” is maybe the most familiar track on III, although a crunchy Big Muff bass and sandpapery synths lend an aggression that feels new. The pulses and orchestra samples of “Flying Practice” conspire to uplifting ends while “Destination: Education” swings wide on the lyrics front, which seems to hold the whole thing back. Elsewhere, the gummy arabesque that’s the basis of “Soldedad” has some Cocteau Twins-ian mystery, which Boratto finesses into something that could be the theme to opening your room’s windows. Gui B.’s music is so thought out and his skill so apparent that he never has to choose between home-listening fodder and club trax, yet III feels decidedly homey. It’s an album animated by the contrast between simple melodies and the complex, deft productions that back them.

In the tradition of Chromophobia’s “Beautiful Life,” Boratto swags it out for one crowd-pleasing pop song, “This Is Not the End,” with vocals by his wife, Luciana Villanova. “Beautiful Life” remains the kind of universal feelgood that brooks no cynicism; III‘s version sticks with the album’s more reserved tenor. It’s a nice fit, closer in feel to the secret track on Ada’s most recent album than “Beautiful Life,” with hopeful lyrics and a twisty melody riding on a New Order shuffle — a nice treat if you’ve let yourself sink into the album’s rhythm.

As a character, Gui Boratto doesn’t hold much interest. He’s just a guy who does his job exceedingly well, and he’s transparent about that. What that means is that III is something to be appreciated and savored, but not necessarily obsessed over.

By Brandon Bussolini

Other Reviews of Gui Boratto

Take My Breath Away

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View all articles by Brandon Bussolini

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