Thé Au Harem D’Archimede
by Simon Reynolds
Villalobos’s Alcachofa was 2003's most exquisitely detailed and endlessly listenable techno album. Now the Chilean-born deejay/producer returns with a record even more riddled with eerie intricacies.
The title Thé Au Harem D’archimede is a saucy (if painful) pun on Archimedes's Theorem. That’s the “Eureka!” one about water displacement the philosopher came up with when getting into his bath tub. It suits an album that’s all about moisture and immersion. Paralleling his own migration from Latin America to Germany, Villalobos imports a languid, balmy sensuality to the often rather dry Teutonic electronic style known as micro-house. He irrigates the genre’s itchy rhythms with voluptuously textured percussion and humid atmospherics that seem to leave your skin stippled with beads of condensation. Standout track “Hello Halo” is like a malaria victim’s fever-dream--oppressively vivid, a delirium of disassociated sensations. At times, the electronic tone-colors are so thickly daubed, so pendulously gloopy, they almost overpower the music’s forward thrust, dragging it (drugging it?) to a standstill. To hear this album at its utmost, you really need to get inside the music. That means headphones, or playing the album LOUD in a darkened room. Not so much a dance record as commonly understood as a potent dose of fully modern psychedelia, Harem D’Archimede is all about eyelid movies.
Run With Me
by Simon Reynolds
Dance music today suffers from too much emphasis on subtlety. Producers riddle their tracks with exquisite nuances but forget to come up with gloriously crass riffs of the sort that smack you upside the head and burn inside your brain. Finnish-born Kiki brings the remedy. His unique brand of Eighties-flavored house is all about bold strokes and dark drama. At times, Kiki’s sound verges on Goth-techno--“The End of the World,”for instance, sees him intoning the lyrics in a doomy baritone, midway between croon and belch, that’s a dead ringer for Sisters of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch. Propelled by beats like bullet ricochets and a riff built from breathy gasps, “Intimacy” drips with eerie emotion, while “Run With Me” is slick 'n' sleazy like a tight-fitting pair of black PVC pants. Best of all is the closing “Luv Sikk Again,” on which tempestuous tympani and stirring strings conjure a swoony mood of flushed, feverish romance. Proof, if it’s needed, that faceless techno instrumentals can be as glamorous as any rock dandy or pop diva you care to name.