Fax: Primario
Static Discos

Microesfera: Negative
Static Discos

Ruben Alonso Tamayo turns away from the minimal techno and microhouse of past Fax releases for a dreamier, laid-back style on Primario, his third Fax full-length for Static Discos (2005's Collaborations and Remixes not included), the music sometimes slowed to a lulling whisper. Nowhere is the style more beautifully realized than on the atmospheric “Luza,” its paradisiacal ambiance subtly abetted by Fernando Corona's (Murcof) percussion and keys. Even more retiring, “Porcelana” sleepwalks through its opening four minutes before rousing ever-so-gently to attention with the onset of a sunlit melody. Tamayo says that electric guitar is central to Primario, a statement borne out by cuts like “Xing,” where broken beats and rich dub atmospheres swirl around tremolo shudders, and “Luza,” where the instrument's textural accents boost the song's already entrancing character. Even better are “Paracaidas,” where graceful fretwork helps animate the tune's gallop, and the dub-microhouse drifter “El calor en la pared.” Kobol's Ignacio Chavez shows up to stretch slide guitar across the ambient desert of “Tunel (Para F)”—too bad the mood's repeatedly disrupted by the jarring intrusion of driving drum breaks. There's certainly much to recommend about the collection but a few more takes of Alex Ayuli's vocals should have been attempted on one song in particular. His singing is tolerable on the opener “Soul Song” (“Does anybody choose to keep their soul asleep?”) but verges on painful during some off-key moments in “Passage.” In total, some fans of Fax's previous work may find Primario a tad too faded for their liking but its whispered rhythms and warm, mellow vibe satisfy nonetheless.

Don't misinterpret the title of Negative, the debut album by Tamayo's Static Discos brethren Microesfera (Buenos Aires-based Alejandro Amo and Ramiro Larraín). The disc isn't a collection of depressing dirges but an attempt to rewrite conventional electronic dance aesthetics by disrupting the music's linearity with backward and 'bisexual' (positive and negative) sounds that simultaneously reference the past while gazing towards the future—all of which may be true, incidentally, but likely won't dawn on the listener unaware of such background info. Said listener will probably hear the album as a set of breezily pumping and dubbed-out microhouse tracks whose techno and schaffel rhythms Microesfera pepper incessantly with glitchy ripples, squiggly noises, and voice stutters. Not that there's anything wrong with that, by the way, as subtly-jacking cuts like “Reenvio” fit the bill just fine. Amo and Larraín share the wealth, so to speak, by rounding out the disc with decent remixes by Latinsizer (the dub-strutting “Out”), Fax (the clip-house gallop of “Rever Up”), and Receptor (the vaporous techno minimalism of “No comment”).

June 2006