- Even eight years after his first single, one listen to Ricardo Tobar's new album will take you back to his early connection with Border Community. Just press play on the dead-tone vocals of "Invierno" and you're immediately reminded of an artist from the label like Fairmont. Though Tobar went on to release singles on Traum and the Parisian label Desire, his blurry and emotional sense of songcraft always felt like an ideal complement to the Border Community roster of the mid-'00s. For his 2013 debut album, Treillis, Tobar continued to mine this sonic terrain. He shaped his tracks into fuzzy earworms and in doing so crafted one of that year's most underrated LPs.
For his second album, Tobar's made the jump to Frankfurt giant Cocoon. Though the Chilean producer has relocated to France, his heart is still in Border Community's London home. A mix of roughened guitars, dirty drum machines, drones and buzzing synth melodies, Collection picks up almost precisely (for better or worse) where the producer left off on Treillis. As always with Tobar, it's his playful way of subverting the listener's expectations that make these slyly symphonic tracks so intriguing. Microscopic noise, miscellaneous sounds and reverb roughen the edges of what are typically beautiful, almost Vangelis-like melodies. Patterns begin to form, sounding organically aligned, only to topple under melodies that soften the maelstrom beneath. What sounds like wood sticks grinding against a washboard on "Angora" slowly gives way to a buoyant synth line that overwhelms the chattering sounds beneath it. Or there's the slow militant drumming of "Brittle" that loses out to a synth with the surge of an electrical storm.
Elsewhere, "There Is Pop" begins like a straight lo-fi house song, but suddenly there are wilted vocals adding delirium to Tobar's noisy charge. "Crystal Sun" warbles and creaks on a bed of sonic disorientation, held together by an increasingly manic synth line. Tobar emulates the decaying kosmische of Holden's The Inheritors on "Red Light," but without the complex approach to assembly and sonic layering. Even if some of its touchstones are clear, Collection is a deftly produced and captivating record, and Tobar's sense of craftsmanship and talent are clear. But it might have been nice to find Tobar stretching himself a bit, much like his former labelmates Holden and Luke Abbott have recently.
05. Inside Castle
06. There Is Pop
07. Blue Mint
08. Red Light
09. Crystal Sun
10. Strange Wave