Matias Aguayo: Ay Ay Ay

The style of Ay Ay Ay reflects Kompakt's ongoing move to re-define itself, with Matias Aguayo's electro-glam-pop light years removed from the label's Berlin techno of yore. The hour-long collection finds the Chilean-born, German-raised producer (and one-time Closer Musik member) following up his 2005 debut solo album Are You Really Lost in strong manner. The new material was laid down in Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, and Paris (with input from Vicente Sanfuentes aka Original Hamster), so it's not wholly surprising to hear Latin American rhythms emerging in songs such as “Ritmo Juarez” (though it is a tad more surprising to hear traditional African rhythms worked into the semi-ecstatic flow of “Koro Koro” and traces of zydeco surfacing near the end of “Juanita”).

What most stands out about Ay Ay Ay is the prominent role given vocals, with Aguayo apparently adding as many as sixty layers of voice recordings to the material. In many tracks, he underlays the multi-tracked lead with multiple layers of differently-pitched counterpoint. The main melody in “Rollerskate” is so catchy, one could miss entirely the remarkable interweave of background vocalizing supporting the lead; it's as if two Aguayos share the lead, three provide the high-pitched accents, and three more handle the bass parts (an approach used in “Me Vuelvo Loca” too). Whatever character his voice lacks in its lead presentation is compensated for by the impact the voices have when presented as clusters. He shouts the title during the pumping “Menta Latte” like cheerleaders egging on a football team, but what's even more arresting is the bass choir and sing-song xylophone melody that hum throughout. “Ritmo Tres” likewise neatly pairs the groan of an acoustic bass with the high-pitched swirl of chanting voices.

Generally trippy and feverish, the songs themselves—and these are songs more than they are dance tracks, even if they do often contain swinging rhythms (consider the tribal broil in “Ay Shit - The Master” and the stomp of “Juanita” as two particularly powerful instances)—are a boisterous and rollicking bunch. As such, it wouldn't be inaccurate to argue that the psychotropic sound presented on Ay Ay Ay has considerably more in common with Animal Collective than it does Michael Mayer.

December 2009