Matias Aguayo Ay Ay Ay

[Kompakt; 2009]

Styles: human techno
Others: Pretty much anybody who’s ever made a noise with their mouth

As Björk’s 2004 masterstroke Medülla and Juana Molina’s alternately pleasant and perplexing Un Día have proved, the primary application of vocal percussion is daring, yet it's not always rewarding. Perhaps its precarious nature is due to the limitless restrictions that come with the form: if you’re writing a composition on an acoustic guitar, you can tune the strings until they snap, but you’re probably not going to make it sound like a piano. However, one can easily (if not capably) impersonate a bass drum, trumpet, or even kazoo with just a pair of lips. There are no restrictions as to what one could come up with – quality notwithstanding, of course.

Thus, it’s with understandable trepidation that one would approach Ay Ay Ay, the vocal tic-reliant second album from former Closer Musik member Matias Aguayo. On first listen, that trepidation is well-earned. As an album-length statement, however, Ay Ay Ay is a failure, as cohesion and immediacy are cast aside in favor of endless undulations and piled-on rhythmic dictations with a dense, humid soundscape that envelopes the album’s entirety. The resulting experience is giddy, then daunting, then exhausting -- or, what one imagines it must be like to attend a techno-heavy club in Aguayo’s native Chile.

Which is precisely the point: despite the possibilities for academic pondering that Aguayo’s speak-sung rhythms and repetitious chanting present, they’re meant to keep parties alive and attitudes hedonistic. And that they do, from the caffeinated bass droplets and trailing yips on opener “Menta Latte” to closer “Juanita”’s near-Balearic bounce. This is silly, sexy music -- much less imposing than the yellow Kompakt label on the album cover would suggest, and about as manic as Aguayo’s blurred, smile-smeared face featured on the same cover.

For those who need breathers, Aguayo provides them in the Beach Boys-esque croons that smash through the densely-layered rhythmic ceiling of “Ritmo Juarez,” as well as the joyous chants and breathy backbeats that spike “Mucho Viento.” This doubleheader breaks up the album nicely to avoid complaints of monotony. And yet, Ay Ay Ay does veer closely to the edge of overextending itself by its completion and, by result, making a strong case for listener fatigue -- but who said dancing was easy?

1. Menta Latte
2. Ritmo Tres
3. Rollaskate
4. From Russia
5. Ritmo Juarez
6. Koro Koro
7. Mucho Viento
8. Ay Ay Ay
9. Aw Shit- The Master
10. Me Vuelva Loca
11. Juanita

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