- Innovative club music with a global mindset.
- 11 years on, Matias Aguayo's decision to call out a lack of imagination in dance music's most dominant genre—minimal—still feels mad and inspired. On "Minimal," he accused the style of having "no balls," and told us, in typically rascally tones, that he wants to dance to a rhythm that's more nocturnal, profound and sensual. This all might have seemed like simple rabble-rousing if he hadn't gone on to spend the next decade working in opposition to safe grooves with such success. He made albums like Ay Ay Ay and The Visitor that fused those rascally tones with explorative beats inspired by Latin American rhythms. In 2017, he collaborated with the South African artist DJ Spoko (who tragically died last year aged 35), further supporting the idea that Aguayo and his label, Cómeme, view club music through an intrepid global lens. There was also space for moves in house and techno, albeit with twists: El Rudo Del House was a four-part series that tried to inject character and colour into drum tracks. Considered next to this potted history, Aguayo's approach on Support Alien Invasion, his first album in six years, is in the lineage of his past work—but this shouldn't detract from how surprising and ambitious the record often is.
That's because Aguayo's aim is no less than to create "new ways of dancing." He does this through club beats that upend dance music conventions, particularly those of the four-on-the-floor-led scenes in Europe. Support Alien Invasion arrives at a time when receptiveness to non-Western rhythms and time signatures is probably at an all-time high, the dance music scene welcoming in everything from maloya to singeli. Aguayo's influences aren't always obvious on Support Alien Invasion. Some tracks are like quick-fire collages of multiple local sounds, with Aguayo slamming together music from far-flung continents. The mood is dark and insistent, and often redolent of South African gqom. But the various disparate elements do indeed combine to make something new, even if overall the experiment is only partly successful.
Aguayo doesn't sing on Support Alien Invasion, which is a pretty big deal for an artist whose voice is so distinctive. This might not have been so noticeable if the buoyancy of his vocals had been replaced with something similarly sparky. But the album winds up feeling cold and distant amid the steely rhythms and chrome soundscapes. It's possible this was intentional. The title apparently alludes to global immigration and a desire for freedom beyond the fear of alienation and exclusion. But whereas older Aguayo records seemed like a celebration of a globalised music scene, this one can sometimes feel like a research project on the topic conceived in a lab.
That might sound like a strange way of introducing the idea that Support Alien Invasion is overflowing with creativity and cleverness, but such is the paradox at play here. It's not inconceivable that some bright young producer could take one of these rhythms and create an entire sub-genre out of it. "The Fold," the opener, is a carnival tune shot through with AI paranoia. It's hard to know which way is up or down on "Spread This Number," a definite standout. The polyrhythms on "We Have Seen Another World," "2019" and "Pikin" boldly flirt with all-out disorder. The brilliance in moments of these tracks doesn't add up to a fully engaging album experience, but Aguayo deserves plenty of credit for continuing to show the imagination he thought minimal lacked all those years ago.
01. The Fold
02. We Have Seen Another World
04. Support Alien Invasion
06. Laisse-moi Parler
07. Between The Risings
09. Spread This Number