Review Summary: A playful, kaleidoscopic smorgasbord of minimal Brazilian tech house. Nothing scary about it
Chromophobia - the fear of colours. The cover art (which rivals in vividness the playschool primaries of a Lemon Jelly album) might persuade you that it’s being ironic, and that this album will be muted, passive, restrained. Not a bit of it. What you get is a rhythm-based electronic album, merely differing from pure techno in its minimal dancey soundscapes, warm textures, stripped down hi-hats and atmospheric diversity. Anyone repelled by the 'repetitive' tag that techno has acquired will find their fears assuaged by this gentle, melodic introduction. Mid-tempo numbers reign supreme, and moods change from playful, bouncy glee to minor key melancholia - though almost always holding hands with an electronic loop or drum pattern to keep things chugging along.
Unusually, this is one of those back-loaded albums, the first few tracks being competent enough slices of tech house that nevertheless repeat some of those loops rather too often for their own good. But stick with it. Opener ‘Scene 1‘
shimmers with a warm artificial haze, ‘Gate 7‘
offers something promising with its discordant messed-up keyboard licks, but the album really gets going with ‘Shebang‘
, cheeky Spectrum computer bleeps running amok and conjuring up an image of some demented robot trashing the laboratory. The title track messes about with synth pads and comes up with some bouncy hollow percussion, while the fluid ‘The Blessing‘
fuses watery wurps with a dulled snare and hi-hat showcase. ‘Malá Strana‘
delves into Moon Safari territory with spacey floating effects that make you feel like you’re floating over some futuristic spaceport, and Senor Boratto even drags his missus into the studio (!) to contribute vocals to the album highpoint ‘Beautiful Life‘
, which was heard all over European dance clubs last summer; a sunny, isn’t-life-great four-to-the-floor anthem of pumping optimism. Luciana delivers a competent performance and it’s perhaps a shame that she wasn’t present on some other tracks here.
The rest of Chromophobia
more than delivers the goods. ‘Xilo‘
throws in an angsty guitar into the mix, the kind of brooding twangs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Cure album, and ‘Hera
’s traditional pewt sounds are battered by ever-changing percussive effects, rattles, shudders, clicks and dinks. All tracks ebb and flow in different places, and tempos shift and turn so much that’s it’s up to the listener to decide which one they want to follow. It’s so easy to listen to, most will not bother listening intently through headphones, but even more remains to be discovered - the album from beginning to end is impressively layered with subtle sonic textures.
Conscious of the inaccessibility and head-numbing repetitiveness that a lot of modern techno music can fall foul of, German label Kompakt seem to overcome this by promoting artists willing to blend a dreamy minimalism and poppy undercurrents with a loyalty to a polyrhythmic approach. Brazilian DJ and producer Gui Boratto is surely going to be held high in the ranks of Kompakt after presenting this accomplished debut album. So give it a try. Chromophobia
is nothing to be scared of.