Although plenty of people loved it, the recent double-disc compilation Total 7 on Kompakt left me wondering whether I was truly tiring of the whole Kompakt sound or whether the batch of tracks themselves simply weren't quite as exciting as they had been in past years. On that release, there was both a great solo Gui Boratto track, as well as a stellar Superpitcher remix of a track by Boratto that stood out as excellent.
It turns out that the excitement based on those two tracks was warranted, because this debut full-length album from Brazilian Gui Boratto is easily one of the most exciting albums that I've heard in some time on the stalwart label. Like the best of releases on Kompakt, the thirteen track album moves in shifty ways, sounding at times like it could fuel movement on the dancefloor while at others floating in near ambient realms. The fine line separating good, or even decent dance music from great dance music is a fine one, but Chromophobia has those nearly unexplainable intangibles that make it such an interesting listen.
"Scene 1" sets the stage with some repeated arpeggios and big bass strokes that build a sense of urgency without breaking into something that really cracks a sweat. "Mr. Decay" follows and it's ups the ante quite a bit with some hollow, rattling beats and an almost acid-tinged melody that's tweaked and tugged throughout the track while counter melodies swoop in and around before building into a fuzzy blowout.
The album is sturdy throughout, but really seems to pick up the pace about halfway through with the album-titled "Chromophobia." After opening with some juicy synth pads and static-crackled beats, the track morphs into a stunning piece with dextrous, rhythmic bass, and haunting drifts of what sounds like filtered strings. "The Blessing" is even better, launching into one of the fastest BPMs on the release, with spitfire beat programming that rattle around the stereo headspace like pinballs as a relentless bass arpeggio keeps pace underneath it all.
Boratto isn't above trying a few new things either, and "Xilo" is one of the more poppy songs on the release with almost western-sounding guitar strums and string synths while "Beautiful Life" introduces some subtle female vocals into the mix. With only a very few soft spots and so many high-points that it's hard to even touch on them on all in a short review, Chromophobia is a rare release that actually gets stronger as it goes on. It's one of the more vital dance releases that I've heard in some time and one of the best things that Kompakt has put out in a couple years. Joyous.