Artist: Gui Boratto
Title: Take My Breath Away
Label: Kompakt
By: Carleton Neil | 4 May 2009
  1. Take My Breath Away
  2. Atomic Soda
  3. Colors
  4. Opus 17
  5. No Turning Back
  6. Azzurra
  7. Les Enfants
  8. Besides
  9. Ballroom
  10. Eggplant
  11. Godet

Gui Boratto "Take My Breath Away"

Out Now on Kompakt

Musical crossovers aren't uncommon. To expect a musician to cozy up in their pigeonhole and produce any single genre of music is stifling, and ultimately unsustainable. Crossovers occur frequently, one can presently find a plethora of electronic musicians with their name attached to a movie score or soundtrack of some kind. Take your pick: surfing documentaries, exercise accompaniments, movies about magical closets or serial killer hookers; electronic music is there.

What's more rare is the reverse of such a crossover: discovering a musician who has stumbled into the ever-growing creative field of electronic music. Josh Gabriel and his work for Disney may arguably be the most obvious one, but all that changed in 2005 when Brazilian Guilherme Boratto chose ours as his medium of choice. We should be so lucky that he did. Previously working commercially as the closest equivalent to a sessions player as one can get, his self-proclaimed turn to create more 'personal' music has won him worldwide appeal and appearances on virtually every high-profile perennial compilation: Balance, Global Underground, Renaissance, Transitions. He's remixed everyone from Adam Freeland to Robert Babicz. Even Rolling Stone has been turned onto his sound.

No doubt then that Kompakt is one happy label. Previously releasing Boratto's first long play which was a standout album in its own right, they also have the privilege of supplying us with Gui's second album, the aptly titled 'Take My Breath Away'.

The album's title track won't readily whisk you away, but its name is accurate. The plodding kick and droning undertones lay the foundation for reverberating snares, but it's the swelling distorted frequencies that rush like blood to the brain and dull-edged melodics that jump into your throat as they sock the track like a blow to the solar plexus.

'Atomic Soda' was the first track off the album's promo EP and qualifies completely as techno, as the track is flush with the hollow kicks and clicks of an 808. While not dissimilar to the first track, 'Atomic Soda' features a fuller bottom end, less melodics and harder tweaks. Following the breakdown the track bursts open with an explosion of aural fizz, and fortunately as the track ends, you'll feel more like your bottle is half full.

Gui's third track 'Colours' is when the album truly begins to bloom. Breaking up his beats, the tripped-up kicks and meaty snares poke holes in the sustained 8-bit synths and dreamy pseudo-strings that blur the track, taking turns with the brass pipes that chime whenever the track takes a breather. 'Colours' is blissful and fuzzy, but the good vibes don't stop there.

An amalgamation of the beginning of the album, 'Opus 17' takes the percussion-prominent styles from the first two tracks and drizzles the melodics from 'Colours' on top. The track seems unsure of itself, but that is more a result of the wobbling synths that surround the track. The breakdown provides plenty of space with distant bells, and the melodic plucking that scatters across the track creates a sense of isolated wandering; not happy, but not lonely either.

There's a reason why 'No Turning Back' sits top Gui Boratto's chart on Beatport as his most popular song: it's arguably one of the best tracks off the album. Finally finding that spot between beats and sweets, the track layers linearly, but that's no mark against it; one just won't be able to decide whether they want to jump up and down with their fist in the air when the grungy guitar synths hit or find a sunny field in which to nap when the track falls back into soft plucking and soothing vocals. True elation starts here, as some perfect combination of Telepopmusik, Nathan Fake and New Order.

The happy-go-lucky strings of 'Azzura' epitomize the raw curiosity that the rest of the track is laden with, and while the innocent tromp of wet snares and vibrant bells run around what sounds like a warbling Bambino® Classic Tones Electric Organ that I used to play with when I was three, the track has barely started. A layer of quiet hats accompanies the track as it bursts into full-blown melodics with another later of distorted synths, but it fades away like a kid taking off down the street, all a little too soon.

Distinct contrast can be hard to pull off in a album while trying to maintain flow, but Boratto introduces the somber 'Les Enfants' after the happy middle of the album in brilliant fashion. A personal favorite off the album, 'Les Enfants' listens like the introverted combination of Boards of Canada and the score to 'Terminator'. Dreary but stoic, the track marches forth, buffeted by stray gusts of guitar and early 90s synths that are cheeky but desolate. Building in confidence with layers of stronger kicks and snares, the track concludes on guitars that are truly from way out west and a mirage of synths that disappear alongside the track.

Taking the album far from such a post-apocalyptic soundscape is 'Besides', a cozy bedtime story like Peter Hook playing rock-a-bye on his bass guitar. The softly bubbling melodics carry the track down onto a calmly chugging synth, snares crashing like quiet waves on the ocean out the window. Get some sleep now, you'll need it for the rest of the album.

With 'Ballroom' it's back to the dancefloor, where Boratto as proven time and again he's no stranger. This is tech-funk like no other, swirling basslines and syncopated synths abound. The absolute hook is the cavernous tin fill that ping-pongs through the track and catches catches the track every two bars, picking the track up and dropping it back into place. As the track breaks down, it is overwhelmed by a glitchy, bleeped-out synth which paves the way for the bassline and the return of the track. Dousk, watch your back.

The perpetually cascading bassline sets the template for most other programming in 'Eggplant', mirrored in structure by the accompanying synths. With a snare that can't stay on point and fills in odd time signatures, the track doesn't groove so much as it glides, returning time and again to its tumbling bassline to right the track and push it forward.

The end of the album ends in a U-turn, as Boratto brings the tone down low and showcases his musicality with 'Godet'. Built initially on stabs of lone piano, it is complemented by pulsing percussion and an airy top end that fill in the seams. Gui's piano is entirely emotive, growing with an additional melodic stroke, but concluding on a literal sour note, like an unspoken rejection of the end of the album.

We're not even into summer yet and already there is a contender for album of the year. Between his impressive contributions to the field and the sheer amount of the work he's put out in four years, it's slightly surprising that Gui Boratto is not even more of a regular fixture in the scene, but that's nothing a sling of remixes and a third LP won't fix. The perfectly named 'Take My Breath Away' is out now on Kompakt, and you need this album as much as you'll need oxygen after hearing it.

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