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Gui Boratto - Take My Breath Away

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Artist: Gui Boratto

Album: Take My Breath Away

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Mar. 2, 2009

São Paulo’s Gui Boratto surprised many with his unassuming debut album Chromophobia two years ago. On the backs of molar-rattling, tightly-coiled sides of titanium-plated techno, Boratto delivered a disc that was equal parts laid-back wallows and hopscotch agility, all of it glistening with vivid melodies.

But from the stridently Floydian gravitas of its cover to the ponderous, tolling piano notes that close the album, Take My Breath Away finds Boratto straining uncomfortably to make some kind of serious statement. It’s no wonder that, in the process, he sometimes winds up evoking the dramatic grandeur and vacant uplift of the ‘80s arena vanguard (U2, Depeche Mode, the Cure).

Once again going half-and-half, Take My Breath Away starts on the dancefloor but soon retires to the window sill. Opening with a one-two smack – sigh-to-a-scream title track is a fine warm up for gassier, first single “Atomic Soda” – the album puffs, drips and ticks with clockwork effectiveness. Still, it’s not all about precision. When the electronic cord that groans ominously for the first five minutes of “Atomic Soda” is slashed open, its effusion of rogue voltage nearly obliterates the track. Amid the crunchy clicks and cracking gears, “Opus 17” has a queasy waft of melody that sounds like carsick Depeche Mode.

Elsewhere, Boratto drops the throb altogether. Nauseous theremin radiance looms over “Azzura” and its percussive guitar strum. The burbling pool of crayon modulations called “Besides” could pass as a Robert Smith collaboration, mostly due to its dulcetly rattling guitar tones.

“No Looking Back” splits the difference between Kevlar-strength techno and song-like ruminations. Clearly evoking Boratto’s signature track, the effusive “Beautiful Life,” it’s another wistful gush of distortions. Carefree verses, delivered again by Luciana Villanova, Boratto’s wife (a pleasantly unruffled vocalist), spin around whipsaw riffs and a hyperventilating chug. A piano-dappled breakdown, bass all aflutter, firmly sends the track soaring.

Given his acuity in blending techno’s muscularity and a certain shoegaze languor, its curious Boratto hasn’t headed further down the post-MBV path. On second thought, given that channel’s overdevelopment by the likes of Ulrich Schnauss and M83, perhaps he’s better off keeping his options open.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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