- The length of Ricardo Villalobos's tracks is constantly discussed. Over the past four or so years, it seems like he's increased the power of his lens, zooming so far into an unfolding logic of semi-determined micro-gestures that larger-scale considerations like structure don't fit in the frame. In the context of music history, this is hardly remarkable. So the jokes surrounding each new Villalobos production tend to say more about dance music conservatism than anything pertinent about the music itself. If his mixes of Oren Ambarchi's Hubris didn't have a kick, snare and (immaculately produced) 909 hi-hats, it would be filed as a contemporary minimalist composition.
Indeed, like the structure, Hubris Variation's drum work takes a backseat to the steady blurring of acoustic and electronic sources. Like all of Villalobos's best music, if you listen closely, you're presented with a network of sounds. Each one suggests the placement and quality of the next, like you're following his thought-process in real time. There's a dazzling labyrinth to shuffle down on Hubris Variation.
The productions' nuts and bolts are various instances of chugging, palm-muted guitar. This source material suits Villalobos: it's rhythmic and focused on harmonics and texture. The original guitars and general ambience sound remarkably intact yet they're subtly filtered, stuttering and triggering other events as parameters slowly shift against each other. It results in a sense of productive stasis that's constantly renewing itself. Half-imagined synth textures poke their heads out of the churning whorl, then retreat back below where others zip and zap like robotic bees. Over time, more ambience and chiming harmonics are introduced, only to be slowly sucked back out, leaving a tight, intimate soundstage. There's so much happening in the background of these tracks that they reward listening on headphones. But the burrowing sub line, occasional bursts of hi-hats and rolling groove also make them proper wig-out material on the dance floor.
A Hubris Variation (Part 1)
B Hubris Variation (Part 2)