- What is there to say about Alcachofa that hasn't already been said? The landmark album from a little known DJ and producer named Ricardo Villalobos helped change the course of electronic music, propelling minimal to the vanguard of house and techno. Looking back more than a decade on, it's tough to gauge the impact Alcachofa had when it dropped in 2003. We know that labels like Perlon, Klang Elektronik and Playhouse had led the way with minimal dance music in the years before, but by that stage they hadn't released a hit anywhere near the scale of Villalobos's debut album. Much of Perlon's early catalogue was either experimental (Dimbiman, Akufen) or functional (Soulphiction), without much in the way of mass appeal. The same went for Playhouse, until Alcachofa came along.
By many accounts, Villalobos was regarded as a decent producer and solid DJ before Alcachofa landed, but not much beyond that. His pre-2003 work is a mixture of functional tech house and extremely heady minimal trips, with tracks like "Heike," "808 The Bassqueen" and "Say That You Love Me" among the standouts. Though they were far from one-dimensional, even the best releases didn't offer the intricacies of Alcachofa. And no two cuts on that great album defined its sound like "Easy Lee" and "Dexter." Whether you're an audio nerd, DJ or casual listener, there's something in both that will speak to you.
Part of the allure of "Easy Lee" and "Dexter" is that they are emotionally ambiguous. On the former, this begins with Villalobos himself. The lyrics (which have never been fully deciphered) were inspired by the "paradise atmosphere" in the garden of a friend's house that was about to be sold. "It's really, like, in between melancholic, a very sad thing, and a very happy thing," Villalobos said around the time of Alcachofa's release. The mood across "Dexter" seems comparatively straightforward, thanks to a more pronounced melody. It sounds melancholic, but it's still tough to ascribe a particular feeling to its vocal blips and brooding key loop.
Ricardo Villalobos, one of the great musical minds of his generation, poured his heart and soul into Alcachofa, perhaps more so than any other album he's released. This reissue features its most unique and treasured moments, which enchant as much now as when they were first heard 12 years ago.
E Easy Lee