Pier Bucci: Amigo

It's telling that Pier Bucci recorded Amigo in his Berlin studio as the project seems to draw equally upon the Latin folk music and the techno-house dance genres associated with his Chilean roots and current European home-base, respectively. That blend is most conspicuously heard during the album's third cut, “Papa Guede,” when a vocal chorus chants spiritedly alongside a quintessential house groove that pulsates with all the vigour and thrust one expects from electronic club music circa 2010. Issued on his own Maruca imprint (named after his mother), the album's ten tracks are warmed considerably by the vocal contributions of Washington Miranda, Jorge Gonzales, Aldo Asenjo “Macha,” and Armelle Pioline. The album's natural-sounding elements—the vocalizing and percussion, specifically—counter the perfection of the tracks' digital production with humanizing character.

The album begins rather underwhelmingly with the sleepy meander of “La Cortina De Hierro y El Pajaro Cantor,” which flirts tentatively with melodic possibilities while Gonzalez's speaking voice adds to its lazy drift—Bucci presumably preferring to ease the listener into the album than open with something more dynamic. A better choice would have been “Canto Libre,” which pairs a lithe house skip with the silken voice of Pioline (of Paris-based Holden). Her sensual murmur also perfectly complements the dreamy languor of “Éternelle” and helps make it one of the album's standouts.

Amigo can be a frustrating listen, however. There are bright moments—“Cuando,” for instance, is neatly distinguished by a Bodycode-like hiccup in its bass drum pattern, and Miranda's voice proves a good fit for the bass-prodded funk-throb of “La Payaya”—but there are also moments when the traditional and digital elements don't quite jell, such as when “Verte Tan” pairs a rather mournful and melancholic vocal by Aldo Asenjo “Macha” with a jacking backing whose jubilance and drive feels at odds with the singing. A directionless quality weakens the atmospheric track “Wayna Wasi” and, like half-formed thoughts, “Iskrenne” sprinkles mere splinters of melody over its midtempo pulse (background rattling noises even suggest the soft wheeze of someone sleeping). In the album's defence, even when the material doesn't always convince, it's at the very least interesting, and that Amigo aims for something higher than prototypical minimal techno counts for something too.

June 2010