Gui Boratto: The K2 Chapter (K2/Kompakt Digital)
Gui Boratto had been pumping out music a little while before he connected with Kompakt and the kick-off of their K2 imprint, but it was on those K2 records that I first discovered what a talent Boratto has for smart, slick dance music. While I haven’t heard all of the catalogue, K2 always struck me as the logical extension of Kompakt after the label began to migrate toward less minimal sounds; going back through the Kompakt catalogue, many of its early releases would have fit right in with the K2 stuff much more so than any of the more broadly palatable stuff on Kompakt (Rex the Dog, Rainbow Arabia, Jatoma). I perceived it as the Kompakt guys’ way of saying, “Hey! We still got it.” And so these tracks are devoid of any of the pop flavor that helped make Boratto’s “Beautiful Life” track a breakout for Kompakt (on his Chromophobia album, released also by Kompakt rather than K2). Instead they are clean and tightly crafted dancefloor tracks and DJ tools, highly functional but also executed with near perfection.
All four of his K2 A and B sides are collected here, book-ended by the best of the best. “Arquipelago” starts things off with its crisp rhythm section and rousing synth organ hum, backed up against “Symmetria,” a more buoyant track with syncopated chord stabs and bobbing bassline. “Sozinho” will always be a favorite of mine because it was the first track I ever heard by Boratto, with a slightly slower tempo and tinges of electro-house in its buzzing bass and distorted patterns, all structured within a neat and tidy techno framework. Paired with “Noronho,” they are probably the “smallest” of the set, sounding more miniaturized and insular compared to the more bombastic warehouse reverb of “Chains” or the spatial play of “Gate 7.” Other than the opening cut, my favorites fall at the end. “Haute Couture” and “Anunciación” are the gloomiest of the bunch, that perfect combination of upbeat utility and melancholic vibe. “Haute Couture” revolves largely around a spry, delayed melodic pattern and punchy bassline, while the neo-trance of “Anunciación” blends repetitive, delayed chords, a forlorn, delicate melody, and a big, nicely-weighted bass synth that holds it all together. Despite most of these tracks originally circulating 5 to 10 years ago (!) they still sound just as tight as ever. It’s nice to hear them collected in one place as a contrast to Boratto’s pop flirtations that have been peppered through his other output, showing that he’s a talent to be reckoned with regardless of genre.