Ricardo Villalobos – 808 The Bassqueen
Robert Hood is credited with inventing Minimal Techno, but Ricardo Villalobos surely can be accredited with defining it. Listening to his first ever release, ‘The Contempt‘, you knew you were in for something special. The Chilean’s ‘Alcachofa‘ album has been referred TO as the nirvana of Minimal Techno, the fulcrum pinnacle which all will refer to as the high point of the genre. Ricardo’s legendary status as a proponent of the abstract, sees him only affiliating with a few to keep the creativity flowing. He told Crack Magazine that he only likes to chill with ‘10 to 15 people’ including Raresh, Rhadoo, Zip and Dorian Paic. If you know the Rominimal scene, you know it has followed his lead. It’s an analogue, vinyls only affair, for those who are serious about the genre by paying for it. The warbly bass and extraterrestrial noises you find on your average Trømmel and Meander releases aren’t here though. ‘808 the Bassqueen’ is a love song to the famed Roland machine. Released in ’99 on Playhouse Records, it’s a tough yet elegant track. It’s not a regular showing for Ricard to release something as such, but if he was going to release only one record, this game-changer would be enough.
The TR-808 is famed for its expressions of the bass note. As much as it is loved by Electronic music enthusiasts, Hip-Hop producers have loved it just as much. Kanye West made a whole album from it, ‘808s and Heartbreaks‘. Lil Jon’s Crunk-induced tracks were defined by the booming bass produced using this machine. Such mastery is also found within Villalobos’ track. A rigid, throbbing bass verging on the borderlands of Dub begins the track. It is a strident sound which can also be found in the productions of Subb-an and Tuccilo. Chords with the sheen of Caribbean steel drum are stabbed with precision of a harpist. Warped drones plague like a dark mist over the track. Half way through the track beautiful strings are drawn out to give the track a warmth akin to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake soundtrack. His LP with Max Loderbauer on RE: ECM has shown his dabble in avant-garde classical and this experimentalism, surely inspiring others such as Petre Inspirescu. The warbles, delays and reverbs at different parts add to the fascination. All in all it leaves the listener musing, whilst remaining in the groove. The cut is Ricardo’s exegesis in less is more. Continue reading