- Someone needs to come up with a name for what the Chileans are doing with techno. It’s a sound that’s becoming increasingly pervasive, with producers as far as Romania revelling in extended percussive squirm – a match as bizarre as Finland’s obsession with tango. Currently the genre sits in a conceptual grey area between minimalist understatement, Latin swing and nineties glitch, but these comparisons fail to adequately explain the scope and intent behind these productions. These pieces by three Chilean producers on Cadenza are archetypal examples of Chilean techno (or whatever you want to call it): all are original, exciting, nervous numbers (and wildly different) and, like Rhadoo’s recent release for the label, offer nothing to substantiate Luciano’s recent claim of digging house.
Ronan Fitzgerald’s criticism of that record being “too experimental” could well be applied here, but in this instance it’s a precocious form of experimentalism, and utterly charming. Los Updates’s original ‘4 Wheel Drive’ has a playful pop-house bounce to it, with risqué JG Ballard-esque auto-erotic lyrics that put it in the Nôze category of disco-smut, but this is weird even by Nôze’s standards. It’s as though the entire track has been constructed out of car parts: soft drums thunk like break pads, the backdrop is covered in metallic pings and taps, and it rocks to-and-fro like a junker. But for all this it remains sparse, with Jorge González’s vocals – pitched high, low, and everywhere in between (and familiar to all through the Villalobos version) – lending it an air of Prince. These elements all appear misjudged and incongruent, but like a faithful jalopy it works, and the result is both strangely groovy and easily likeable.
Dandy Jack & Superhero’s version of 'Inviting you Here' (from Los Updates's forthcoming album) is even more obtuse, with pinprick scatter filling the gaps between retro space tones and hinted-at percussion. There’s a psychedelic touch in the liberal use of effects, like vintage dub and Tropicalia, with congas and vague snatches of voice left drowning in processing. But there’s also development, and that’s what keeps you following the slippery threads, burrowing through the rhythm like termites.
Villalobos’s '4WD' mix, the centrepiece of his Fabric set, is actually the most immediately straightforward thing here, or perhaps his quirks are just subtler. Like most of his work, it feels somewhat lacking out of context – 13 minutes of almost imperceptible movement, a finger-click clap, and the voice chopped into a rhythmic 'huh!' - but again the action is in the rustling detail buzzing in the ether, and it's highly compelling.
This is a confusing release but one I can't stop playing it, although I must confess to not knowing quite what it's about. Luciano and Tobias are next up and should be just as perplexing - techno needs these mysteries.
A1 Los Updates - 4 Wheel Drive
A2 Los Updates - Inviting You Here (Dandy Jack and the Superhero Remix)
B1 Los Updates - 4 Wheel Drive (Ricardo Villalobos' 4WD Remix)