Dusted Reviews

Aerea Negrot - Arabxilla

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Aerea Negrot

Album: Arabxilla

Label: Bpitch Control

Review date: Oct. 5, 2011

While on vacation in Berlin, I made a point of stopping by Watergate. It promised to be an experience that put music that I’d been following closely for the last few years into context. As it happens, it’s a great club, but also a real place and therefore not the one I’d constructed in my imagination. So the ultimate takeaway had little to do with the music itself, but with my own puffed-up, sacramental idea of Berlin techno needing to meet reality. While there, I had a conversation with two Swedes who, to my chagrin, had been to the club the night before but were unaware that it was a Luomo album release party. They weren’t into the head-bobbing scene. I couldn’t help but cringe: but I guess when you’re a shut-in, you can be a real judgmental dick.

That experience also reaffirmed what I’ve often found tricky about dance music: it’s esoteric but never loses touch with hedonism. Certainly your perspective on that is affected by where you live, and America probably has the highest barrier to entry — although a recent crop of thinkpieces reminds us that rave had a moment in America circa, like, 1997, but went back underground till the recent surge of club-rap jams. If you’re not a professor of the stuff, the world of “serious” dance music remains a difficult one to feel at ease in.

Although embedded in the Berlin scene, this Aerea Negrot album doesn’t have to choose between potential audiences. Co-produced by the estimable Tobias., its version of techno is deep enough to satisfy snobs, but it hits enough familiar plot points to be recognizable as pop — there’s a song that describes itself as a love song before getting distracted by itself, one that urges a lover to move to Berlin, and one about breaking up. As a persona, Aerea Negrot (real name Danielle Gallegos) is detailed and flamboyant in a way that’s rare; the album’s first real track leads off with magical nonsense like, “Big city of the city of the city of the town, in the island of the east, but where the fuck is the pharmacy?” Gallegos is Venezuelan, and there are songs here in Spanish and German, in addition to English. That voice is slightly nasal and thin, making opportunities to go mock-operatic and testing the tensile strength of words like “Bitte.”

The productions make space to accommodate Gallegos’ flights of fancy: The sound is less dense than techno, but just as shiny and contoured. The music is great, but unmistakably secondary to the vocals. There’s also an aversion to obvious melodies that will please hardcore techno nerds, although it works against the pop side of the album coming together. Aerea Negrot finds ways to sing on the tracks that don’t just reiterate the song’s rhythm: instead, she squeezes herself into cracks only to pop out with exuberant gestures, flinging non-sequiturs and uncool stuff like “toodle-oo” with the same amount of gusto.

Fearless theater wouldn’t seem like a great fit with a typically straight-faced genre like techno, but I keep thinking this is what I want to hear when I put a Grace Jones album on. In the end, Arabxilla’s schizophrenia is its selling point, but it also keeps it at a certain distance. Knowing about techno is a labyrinthine thing, and often I feel like I can’t dismiss something without learning more details than I may have the patience or time to learn. Aerea Negrot’s music is bound to be divisive for some; for others, it’ll be enjoyable but not totally memorable. In any case, the way Arabxilla is made prevents context from dominating over more immediate concerns, a reminder that details don’t substitute for feeling.

By Brandon Bussolini

Read More

View all articles by Brandon Bussolini

Find out more about Bpitch Control

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.