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Gui Boratto

Take My Breath Away

(Kompakt; US: 3 Mar 2009; UK: 9 Mar 2009; Internet release date: 23 Feb 2009)

Review [7.Apr.2009]

Two years ago, people spoke about Gui Boratto’s Chromophobia as if it enabled them to levitate in the street. I was part of that chorus—that’s my story and I stand by it. The accolades are well-founded: at the hands of this Brazilian producer, the arctic temperatures sometimes mentioned in the same breath as “minimal techno” are warmed measurably on Chromophobia, with blissful arrangements and clever pop-and-club melds. This dexterity has since materialized in a number of tracks—most notably amid a barrage of harpsichord-esque stabs on “Matryoshka”, from a late 2007 split he shared with SCSI-9, and on a lush, grim B-side called “The Beach” that paired him with German producer Martin Eyerer. On his much-anticipated second full-length for the Kompakt label, Gui Boratto’s work is again stylish and absolutely hypnotic, leaning often toward a more electronic sound than he did in 2007.


Take My Breath Away is an artful dose of melody and very imaginative techno, with nods to the digestible pop heights of its long-playing predecessor. Boratto weaves in live elements on Take My Breath Away, contributing his own heavily treated guitar and piano tracks for the balance he captured so well on Chromophobia. In The Entry Most Likely to Succeed in indie rock circles, he employs his signature builds of guitar and rich, undulating synths for both DJ set-friendly theatrics and band-like appeal.


“No Turning Back” soars eventually into Boratto’s logical “Beautiful Life” successor, where a thrilling, dayglow stratosphere is shaped from a measly couple of notes. Boratto’s wife, Luciana Villanova, donned Chromophobia‘s “Beautiful Life” with sparsely placed vocals for the album’s most popular track, and she returns on “No Turning Back”, softening buzzsaw, driving grooves with a handful of smoky verses. The buildup peaks prior to the vocals—a few measures before a wiry, simple guitar line curls around “No Turning Back”‘s opening melody, this fizzing rush of noise-pop has already been here and made its exit. For all of the reverb and overall shimmering surface wax that the producer smeared onto this one, Villanova’s solemn mood is never quelled. “I can show you the way but I know that you’ll never be there,” she sings when everything drops out. The central melody is at once modest, sentimental, and cinema-ready, and it will be a little easier too swallow for most alongside the techy psychedelia that monopolizes the Take My Breath Away tracklist (Isn’t the George Romero via Willy Wonka cover art somewhat of an indication, though?).


The pre-Take 12”, “Atomic Soda”, wholeheartedly retains the crystalline electronic sheen of Chromophobia‘s “Hera” or “Shebang”, with an array of micro-percussion and splintering synths. Outside of an ill-fitting arena-sized breakout during “Les Enfants”, Take doesn’t feel much more “live” than it does on “No Turning Back”. The opening title track—along with “Atomic Soda” and “Opus 17”—drives Boratto’s album toward a paint-spattered flood of prodding grooves and subsequent crests, in more color, more elasticity, and ultimately more ideas at each turn.


Take My Breath Away commences in floor-ready dizzying tech house. Shadowy, hammering synths punch in and out at slender faux-feedback; by its end, it’s grown shrill and maddening. Far darker than but somewhat similar to 2007’s “Xilo”, the Take title track shares in Chromophobia‘s diverse palette of nuances. “Ballroom” and “Eggplant” are just as urgent as the the opener, but the record isn’t without its moodiness. Not unlike hazy bender “Besides”, the wilting seven minutes of “Opus 17” culminate in a glow that any Slowdive Fan Club member would be foolish to overlook.


The leveling-out of woozy tech house with affable pop tendencies is an admirable attribute of Gui Boratto’s, populating all of Take My Breath Away. For listeners of any act from Miwon to M83 to Dominik Eulberg, Boratto’s work is exemplary of seasoned musicianship and refreshing unpredictability in sound, and these sleek, ceiling-scraping missives are almost too grand—ingest small, careful servings and repeat as needed.

Rating:

Dominic Umile is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. His work has recently appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, The Chicago Reader, The Comics Journal, and more. Follow: @dominicumile | Email: dominic.umile@gmail.com | about.me/dominicumile


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