Ricardo Villalobos: Salvador

A retrospective compilation of Frisbee vinyl rarities from 1998-2001, Salvador's eight tracks total 80 minutes—a clear sign of the material's 'jam' character. Villalobos pushes his machines to the brink on the clubby collection, with the framing tracks, a 2006 modernization of “Que Belle Epoque” and a remix of Señor Coconut's “Electrolatino”' in the 13- to16-minute range. Villalobos is a master at concocting extended grooves, rooted in techno but hardly limited or defined by it. Admittedly “Lugom-ix,” a remix of a Dandy Jack-Pink Elln cut, is the kind of prototypically dark, synth-heavy club banger one doesn't associate with Villalobos but, elsewhere, his more fluid—liquid perhaps a more accurate adjective—handling of the genre comes to the fore. The other material better illustrates his 'biological' style where tiny sounds multiply like minute organisms and grow into alternately simmering and broiling gumbo. “Unflug” does 'stomp' but restrainedly, taking its time to work up to its stoked groove by song's end. “Tempura,” on the other hand, charges like a conductor-less locomotive yet does so using a minimal number of percussive elements (snare, hi-hat, bass drum). The Señor Coconut mix is interesting too for how Villalobos balances the original's elements with his own: its opening minutes' horns, congas, and vocals are all Señor Coconut but then Villalobos takes over, riffing for the next ten minutes before surrendering the tune back to SC in its ending moments. Still, the best thing here is “Que Belle Epoque”: the first kick is the rhythm hiccup that twists the hand-claps inside out; the second is the chanting female chorus that abruptly pushes the track into a whole new direction five minutes in. Though designed more for the raver than chin-stroker, Salvador is a classy collection nonetheless, if inferior compositionally to Alcachofa and less arresting than Thé Au Harem D'archimède.

July 2006