Gui Borrato in Boston April 7

Gui Boratto

Approaching any artistic genre requires that a critical perspective be put into play. James Parker astutely mentioned such with reference to hardcore back in 2000 when he reviewed Snapcase’s Designs for Automotion in the last issue of Hermenaut.

About this hardcore thing you’ve really got to be binocular: screw up one eye and behold a sealed playground for thugs, runts, drones, and demagogues, a grim halfworld where preening skinheads endlessly rehearse their primordial dramas—faces distended in purist rage—tendons coiled in a sweat-sleek forearm—massed salutes—repressed seekers after the love of men—music that twitches like the vestigial tail-stump it truly is—etc. Screw up the other eye and it’s folk music, a tribal beat, a still-necessary set of moves, nothing less than a full-force belief system in noise. Depends who’s playing, I guess.

It’s much the same with electronic music: if you look at the long-range without careful listening, it’s just repetitive beats pulsing away. No movement, just its semblance masking stasis. If you concentrate on the minutiae of sound composition or on the track for the sake of what it can do for you as an artist, the tendency will be to lose any grasp of lyricism proportionate to the format at hand.

To further belabor the analogy, these problems present themselves with techno more often than adherents would like to admit, especially when it comes to the genre’s relationship with ease. Too much effort readily shows a track as forced, driving beats and intrusive themes log-jamming the ears in the name of being thoughtful and complex. But that’s just being a boffin. Do too little, and either the same staccato thump-thump becomes unitneresting or undesirable to listen to, or whatever accompaniment doesn’t encourage listener’s attention enough to want to keep listening. It possibly explains why there are so few techno albums that can coax a dozen tracks out of a listener’s time and offer extended interest and reward repeated listens.

It ultimately invites a crisis on how one handles the means at one’s disposal. Which is where politics comes into play. But that is for another post, perhaps.

At any rate, Brazilian architect-turned-ad guy-turned-techno musician Gui Boratto is one of the handful of artists, who alongside Ricardo Villalobos, Ellen Allien, Michael Mayer, and Superpitcher, to name a few, Chromophobia Coverhave worked to elevate the state of the art in the genre. Released early in 2007, his Kompakt full-length Chromophobia, is as close to a fully-realized electronic album as the genre offers to date. At the very least, it is brings together the various musical interests that Kompakt pursues quite neatly into one record. It’s a synthesis of electronic idioms held together by a intricate and polished aesthetic. His nods to Kraftwerk from the opening seconds of “Scene 1” (and arguably the entirety of “Acrostico”) and a his salute to New Order in “Xilo” show his classical leanings. The transition from a conventional four-on-the-floor beat to a clean schaffel signature in “shebang” (and back) is an example of how he dynamically manipulates rhythms; the title track, “The Blessing” and “Terminal” hint at intelligent and tasteful infusions of afro-latin syncopation into techno. His lyrical side shows in “Hera”, a pop-inflected delight, and ambient music is a familiar part of his repetiore, at least in tracks such as “The Verdict” and “Mala Strana”. Boratto is faithful to the notion that electronic music can swing and still maintain its character- “Mr. Decay” and “Gate 7” demonstrate this admirably.

Boratto begins Chromophobia froma darkness that is neither malevolent nor benevolent; it simply contains the colors that register as a result of his work. And it is in “Beautifull Life” where he is most ebullient and joyful, temporarily suspending any melancholy and cynicism, giving the track the distinction of being last year’s unofficial summer anthem. The video below, showing a pop-friendly version of Boratto’s eight minute steady-burner is just the thing required when you’re waiting for the sun to come out more often in Boston.

Since releasing Chromophobia, Boratto has been prolific, releasing remix after remix, releasing an album with Martin Eyerer called “The Island” on Audiomatique Recorings, and is in the midst of what anyone would consider a grueling tour schedule taking him around the globe over a year-and-three-month period. He comes to Great Scott in Allston on Monday night, April 7, thanks to the efforts of the local Basstown collective. Squar3 productions expresses their excitement for the event, which I obviously share with them, and have great track on their mp3 blog- “Matryoshka”. It originally appears on a 12″ on Kompakt, as part of the label’s Spiecher series.

Gui Boratto will be playing tomorrow evening April 7 at Great Scott in Allston, with his compatriot DRI.K as a special guest. Basstown residents DJ Die Young, Volvox, and Etan will warm the crowd up. As of the time this post was published, tickets were still available.