- After releasing 12”s on his very own CMYK Musik label and Trapez, Spanish up-and-comer Alex Under releases his debut full length, Dispositivos De Mi Granja, also on Trapez.
The opening few tracks function as something of a primer, introducing the listener to key elements of Under’s sound and aesthetic. Bouncing basslines, burbling chiming melodies, just a hint of jazziness at times, all combined with a minimal eye. These tracks are a solid introduction to the Under aesthetic, but never really hook the listener. Listeners may find themselves skipping these tracks on repeated plays, eager to move on to the main body of the album.
The party really starts around halfway through the album with the fifth track, a reworking of “Las Bicicletas Son Para El Verano” (interestingly the only previously available track, having been released on the Trapez 12” of the same name). The track heads straight for the middle of the dancefloor with a hypnotic, rocking minimal bassline, insistent clipped hi-hats, and a driving beat. Track six, “Vacarneroveja”, keeps things on the dancefloor with a similarly hypnotic bassline as a gorgeous chiming melody slowly yet surely rises up from below the surface until it majestically takes flight around the four-and-a-half-minute mark in what is undoubtedly a highlight of the album. Further on, the bassline on “Balas De Paja Maja”, bounces dangerously high, quickly joined by a handclap rhythm and guaranteed to have the listener’s head nodding within mere seconds.
Towards the end of the album, "El Establo Queado" dives below the surface of the waves for the deepest track of the album, with a lovely dubby bassline and echoing sounds while "El Ordeñador Personal" comes up with a playful, almost jazzy, melody, propelled by cut-up vocal samples of single syllables (think distant shades of Akufen here), accompanied by the familiar bouncing Under bassline.
Under works with a small palette of sounds on each track, delighting in building and combining these sounds so the final results are somehow greater than just the sum of their parts. Most tracks progress in a similar fashion, starting with a bassline bouncing along, soon to be joined by a beat, and then a melody that gradually rises and unfolds itself over the course of several minutes. There’s no doubt that this album will be filed under “minimal”; it couldn’t be anything else. Yet this album is a far cry from the slamming minimal techno of Richie Hawtin, or the more intellectual minimal excursions of Thomas Brinkmann or Wolfgang Voigt, although fans of those styles of music will undoubtedly appreciate this album. With its playful melodies and hip-swinging, bouncy rhythms, Dispositivos De Mi Granja comes closer to House, thereby opening it up to a wider audience who appreciates some “curves” to their music instead of the “straight lines” normally associated with minimalism.
Dispositivos De Mi Granja is a solid debut, with the second half of the album probably seeing the most play both in homes and at clubs. If Under can build on the promise of the second half of Dispositivos De Mi Granja, he will undoubtedly become a minimal house favourite.