- Gui Boratto's fifth full-length is an attempt to freshen things up, but the results too often fall short of his best work.
- Since 2007's Chromophobia, we've known what to expect from a Gui Boratto album. There will be a vocal tune sung by his wife, Luciana Villanova, such as the Ibiza anthem "Beautiful Life." There will be rocky basslines that show the Brazilian producer's admiration for Peter Hook. And there will be plenty of bright club tunes, a few with epic qualities that stop short of full-on Gatecrasher trance, to the relief of those more likely to raise their noses than their hands to, say, a Paul Van Dyk set.
It's been a successful formula, and one Boratto's managed to get more mileage from by tweaking the balance between his pop and techno sides each time. 2011's III was for late-night dance floors; 2014's Abaporu was sometimes radio friendly. Aspects of his latest album, Pentagram, are as you'd expect. Villanova sings on "Overload," though her vocal sounds weary compared to "Beautiful Life," and there are shades of Hook and New Order on "Forgotten."
To his credit, Boratto introduces some different ideas to Pentagram. Trouble is, they're not particularly original, and one is particularly bad. "The Phoenix" is stadium-rock EDM whose processed guitar riff is even more painful than Nathan Berger's lyrics. ("Like a phoenix from the flame / like a miracle you came," goes one line.) Other tracks are derivative rather than dire. The title track is a decent stab at glitchy techno in the Border Community mould. The orchestral "Scene 2" stands out, but only because its Bond theme pastiche sounds unlike anything else on the album.
Inconsistent as Pentagram is, there are still moments where Boratto shows his considerable strengths. The gorgeous melodic peaks and loose-limbed drums of "The Black Bookshelf" make for the LP's best track. The endorphin-rush techno of "Forgive Me," meanwhile, is sure to ignite one of his main stage festival sets. That's the setting in which Boratto shows his energy and confidence as an artist. Too much of Pentagram, by contrast, feels tired or confused.
01. The Walker
02. The Black Bookshelf
03. Overload feat. Luciana Villanova
05. Forgive Me
08. The Phoenix feat. Nathan Berger
09. Halluciantion feat. B.T.D1