Alcachofa

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Matthew Dear

Album: Leave Luck To Heaven
Label: Spectral/Ghostly International
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Ricardo Villalobos

Album: Alcachofa
Label: Playhouse
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Matthew Dear

Album: Leave Luck To Heaven
Label: Spectral/Ghostly International

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Ricardo Villalobos

Album: Alcachofa
Label: Playhouse

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Naysayers like to parrot dance music's supposed uniformity, but it's hard to imagine how they might try to fit Matthew Dear's hectic techno into a mold of "djujj-djujj-djujj" sounds. The Detroit DJ/producer bases his tracks on standard techno rhythms and a minimal tone palette, but every four-four beat count splinters into a glistening spurt of sensation, like warm jets from a water pick. Under the name False, Dear reduced techno to gasps and sighs on a self-titled album earlier this year, but Leave Luck To Heaven finds him nudging those same slivers through a sexy slide. "Fex" makes an Olympics-worthy sport of shivering, as beats pop inside an echo chamber blown through with hot and cold ambient breezes. "Just Us Now" and "The Crush" take a mellower turn over Dear's buoyant basslines, which ease into circular patterns like melodic rounds. Dear's own vocals, recorded in homey close-up, root areas of the album in passages worthy of Prince at his most pensive. But when all his protracted pieces come together ("But For You," "Dog Days"), Dear sounds a unique call for songful techno. A Chilean now camped out in Germany, Ricardo Villalobos wields a similar way with song-minded builds on Alcachofa. "Easy Lee" goes from a creaky yawn to a flailing seizure over the course of 10 dreamily distended minutes: Villalobos' vocodered voice proves equally inviting and unsettling, and an otherwise simple beat march hides a mess of ping-pong madness beneath its deceptively subtle surface. Stretches of Alcachofa lack Villalobos' storied energy (best heard on his stunning recent DJ set In The Mix: Taka Taka), but like Dear, he fattens up microhouse's thinnest components. Tracks like "Bahaha Hahi" take on propulsive properties through accumulation, teasing out rubbery, clicky segments that intensify on their own time. Organic flourishes point Alcachofa (Spanish for "artichoke") toward soulful deep-house: the sensual rub of a drum head on "I Try To Live (Can I Live)," the flitting guitar foundation of "Waiworinao." But Villalobos' deepness floats more than it sinks, rising to a level where intricate outgrowths evolve without getting too wrapped up in their roots.

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