Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Ricardo Villalobos, Alcachofa

In a recent review of Michael Mayer’s Immer (which Resident Advisor named as the best mix CD of the decade) I wrote that I think that trying to construct a numerically ordered list of the “Best” CDs in a genre as diverse as electronic music or even electronic dance music is a pointless exercise.  That didn’t stop me from looking into Ricardo Villalobos’ Alcachofa which Resident Advisor named as the best individual CD released from 2000 through 2009.  Is it the best CD of the decade?  Who nows?  Is it a good CD that is worth listening to?  Absolutely.

Villalobos is a Chilean-born, German-raised DJ and producer who is most closely associated with different kinds of minimalist electronic dance music like microhouse and minimal techno.  Alcachofa (which is Spanish for “artichoke”) falls squarely within these musical styles with quiet, underplayed instruments and sounds, an emphasis on complex overlapping rhythms, and the use of timbres that are clearly electronically produced.  Villalobos also uses distorted and effected vocal bits as both tiny melodic segments and rhythmic elements.

From its opening track, “Easy Lee”, Alcachofa sounds like nothing else.  Villalobos is like the wise man who speaks quietly.  You have to pay attention in order to hear all that’s going on and when you do you are rewarded with something worth listening to that you’re glad you heard.  The tracks on Alcachofa are extended meditations ranging from roughly 7.5 to 10 mins. While the emphasis is on rhythm, it’s not the mind-numbing, quantized and overwhelming 4/4 used in some forms of dance music.  Rather it’s the kind of rhythm that can draw you in and take you off to some place you may not have expected to go.  Many of the tracks on Alcachofa are mysterious and eerie with odd and unexpected sounds which appear at carefully and precisely chosen rhythmic moments and are never heard again.  It’s the kind of album you can listen to fifty times and still hear new things you didn’t notice before.

The more I listen to Alcachofa, the more I enjoy it.  Does that make it the best CD of the decade?  Hardly.  However, it does make it a CD gets a lot of play in our house and probably will continue to do so for a long time to come.

“Easy Lee” from Alcachofa


06/06/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , | 2 Comments