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Gui Boratto on sonic architecture and the beauty of Chromophobia
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"There's no complex textures [to "Beautiful Life"], as there are on some of the other songs [on Chromophobia]." True, but the song is no mere retro exercise: as much as New Order, the sunny feminine grace of "Beautiful Life" also calls to mind Ricardo Villalobos's epic 2006 update of his own "La Belle Epoque," probably the only time Boratto and the Chilean Villalobos have crafted a similar definition of techno.

Still, Chromophobia's truest pleasures might be subtler ones, such as the alternately shuddering and sinuous propulsive energy of "Terminal" and "Gate 7" (the latter of which takes its title from the number of the TAM Airlines boarding gate for all of Boratto's flights to Europe). On "Acróstico," Boratto provides a reprieve from this momentum, fashioning the electronic equivalent — via an array of low-key chirps and whirring sounds — of a nature scene at dawn or dusk.

"The title of 'Acróstico' stems from the fact that the high bass notes complete the lower notes — if you see a drawing of the notes, it looks like an acrostic," Boratto explains. For a musician who specializes in instrumental tracks, Boratto has a flair for linguistic matters. After bringing up Franz Kafka in response to a question about Chromophobia's final track, "The Verdict" — which takes its name from a Kafka tale often published in volumes of The Metamorphosis — he comments on a certain similarity: "One thing I noticed is that with Metamorphosis's Mr. [Gregor] Samsa, if the two s's in his name turn into k's, and the m's turn into f's, you have Kafka. It's fiction, but it's his story."

THE AMERICAN FRIENDS

By no means is Chromophobia Kafkaesque. But a dynamic between colorful optimism and an undercurrent of gloom gradually courses through the album, growing deeper as it progresses. On the penultimate track, "Hera," Boratto crafts a coda so poignant that it easily eclipses the best recent tracks put forth by Booka Shade and other instrumental acts on Get Physical, perhaps the one German label to overshadow Kompakt in recent years. Kompakt is definitely on a roll as of late, thanks to the long-awaited — and underrated — second volume of label cohead Michael Mayer's Immer (2006) and the ambient — in comparison to Boratto — allure of the Field's acclaimed From Here We Go Sublime. The Field's Axel Willner is inventive enough to tap into the so-ghostly-it's-frightening essence of the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You" (also a touchstone on the soundtrack of Kenneth Anger's 1950 film Rabbit's Moon), yet Boratto's palette is broader, connecting techno's chillier reaches with the warmth of Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim.

Jobim may be "the master," in Boratto's words, but the man behind Chromophobia also loves US brands of soul — especially Al Green and Stevie Wonder. Likewise, while the "little Paris" known as Prague might be Boratto's favorite city in architectural terms, he's looking forward to his SF visit. "I really love San Francisco," he says, remembering the "mainstream" charms of a club like Spundae, where he once saw Boy George. "I actually lived near Berkeley, in Pinole, for six months in 2001. I studied in Berkeley, and I had two American friends. This one friend had a big house in a nice neighborhood in Berkeley, where we had barbecues and never-ending parties.

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