Are You Really Lost
atias Aguayo had all eyes asquint for Are You Really Lost, his debut record on Kompakt. As half of Closer Musik, whose minimal mascara-club singles like “One, Two, Three (No Gravity)” and “Maria” and 2002’s full-length After Love sat along Villalobos and Luciano a-sides as the where-to-go of global tech, Aguayo provided the husky, black-cavern mumblings to the duo’s more pop-friendly leanings. In a sense, to forge a comparison that seems only appropriate this year, he played Jamie Lidell to former partner Dirk Leyers’ Cristian Vogel. Fitting then that both of these broken-toothed ‘crooners’, Lidell and Aguayo, have unleashed two of the year’s best debuts (Lidell's Muddlin Gear featured such a different Lidell at work that for all purposes, this is a new man).
Following the trends of fellow Chilean Villalobos (who isn’t?), Aguayo’s Are You Really Lost is a dank, low-shoulder stumble through gas-lit scavenging. Perhaps its finest track, “De Papel,” opens with beats that sound like they were pummeled through aluminum, sound captured on the other side of a crowd pounding and cackling for entrance, and Aguayo alone on the other side nodding to the rhythm of that decadent rush. Aguayo tells an uncountable tale of everything that night might offer; his voice is whispered and callused, moaning as much as breathing, gasping as much as singing. The lyrics are of secondary importance here, providing simply another brick in the cellar of Aguayo’s torturous lure. Still, this sense of masked wording works in Aguayo’s favor, as past efforts like Closer Musik’s “Ride” had a tendency to slip into bawdy waste by laying his lyrics too bare. We don’t need another Peaches. Camp is overrated.
Elsewhere, Aguayo continues the seedy thumping. “New Life” should Autobahn all of your regrets and misgivings into a place worthy of holding to or forgetting forever, given your mood and your taste for self-laceration, as Aguayo’s vocals echo faintly to give a sense of these new gains become antique, of a lock-step rhythm and subtle schaffel pace that you’ll hold to until you have to sleep or turn it all off. Again, odd lyrical lapses can be overlooked in the face of such a cavernous experience--Rimbaud, brother ain’t. “Well” might be Erlend Oye if he championed Locahofa over Melody A.M., and “Radiotaxi” likewise drools with propulsion, a set destination in mind and the gasoline to get there.
The title track plays Aborigine to the Outback, full of resolve and jovial endurance, an adolescent schooled by adrenaline and absinthe, with its tribal grunting and near-organic beat, and “So In Love” builds around a computerized listing of the week-days, channeling and burrowing into its repeating tonal patterns until you realize the track has left you behind. In fact, besides the wasted droning of “The Green and the Red,” Aguayo never missteps, completing one of the more dynamic and richly detailed vocal-tech records of the year (for those of you with a taste for The Junior Boys, run don’t walk to hear Kelley Polar’s forthcoming Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens).
As Matthew Dear digs through your garbage for all your private negatives with Suckfish and Marc Nguyen continues to ape Manchester gone fanatic and I-Roy gone eunuch (two artists whose past work certainly bears comparison to Aguayo here), it’s clear that Aguayo has come out far ahead. Put away your mourning attire for Closer Musik. Between Levers’ EP earlier this year and Are You Really Lost, they’ve upped the ante: there are two of them now.