Nighttime. I am driving. My passenger puts on some music. We travel on secondary roads in a central European country: dense forests, traffic is scarce, no conversation.
The music invades the space. It takes on a celebration of life that is typical of electronic music. But it isn’t, it is denser and resists the usual classification of style. The music seems close to post-industrial spheres but shows no trace of noisy machines operating behind its sonic surface.
A perfect simulation of its source, it has lost all reference and taken on its own, separate reality. There is no longer a distinction between the extremes: dance and ambient, analog and digital. It is of pure manipulation, a perfect entanglement of what is active and passive, as Baudrillard would have said it. Pure pleasure.
Free of excessive energies and ambiguous origins, the sound carries me to the frontiers that separate the known from the abyss. It is a pleasant feeling, like touching a scab without the bleeding. It requires my attention and I resist giving in to any seductively persistent booming.
I keep driving, but I feel the passing of the landscape below our feet as if the car has seized to carry us and am at the wheel of a simulator. I turn to my passenger and ask by whom this music is. “It’s mine,” he says, “it’s my latest CD.”
I recognise falling into the trap. We all do.
Compositions by Juan Cristóbal Saavedra
Produced January 2015 in Barcelona, Spain
Artwork by Fabián Taranto
Liquid Sky Berlin
Released via the ever active digital imprint Clang in early March is “Simulaciones”, the most recent album by Juan Cristobal Saveedra a.k.a. Equipo who seems to be back on track after releasing on labels like Pueblo Nuevo and Rodoid in the years 2006 to 2008. Within nine tracks and a total playing time of approximately 51 minutes, we see mr. Saveedra exploring the realms of classic, classy and crystal clear electro music, mostly sparse and perfectly crafted but also crossing over into string-laden 4/4 with a bit of ‘troit melancholia as on the epic Libertad Ambulatoria. With Victima Del Panteismo Equipo caters a pretty intense piece that one easily could imagine as an underground hit single in circles worshipping classic Dutch labels like Clone or Viewlexx, whereas “Exotic Pasion” brings in a bit of Balearic, ProtoGoa feel. Encarnacion Perdida revives what once was known under the genre term TechnoJazz to mind-bogging, leg twisting effect, before Desercion Liminal caters more than eight minutes of deep ambient electro and the closing tune La Extincion Del Ser Humano adds epic, krauty synths and a Vangelis-like feel to masterly crafted beats. Recommended.
Whisperin’ and Hollerin’
Information about Equipo is sparse, only that it is the musical outlet of Juan Cristóbal Saavedra who draws on a combination of house, techno, electronica, dub, minimal and IDM in the formulation of his work. ‘Simulaciones’ contains nine tracks, and the album’s sound is defined by sturdy electro beats coupled with insistent bass-lines that build some solid grooves. Layered on top are broad, soft, sweeping synths. Space-age Krautrock with a chilled edge balances stealth with danceability, and it’s intelligently done.
Equipo has his own way of conceiving a simulation and does so with a record that is a mix of different kinds of electronics (urban / street, downtempo, trip-hop, house, IDM, techno, ambient, etc..). “Simulaciones” leads to a generative kaleidoscope where we follow a stream of influences. We are presented with an artistic manifesto (perhaps involuntarily) that starts from a simple consideration, a memory of a trip by car – ‘dense forest, little traffic, no conversation. The music fills the space. (…) The music seems close to the post-industrial spheres, but no trace of the noise of machines that operate behind the sound surface. (…) There is a distinction between the extremes: dance and ambient, analog and digital. Pure manipulation, a perfect correlation between what is active and passive, as Baudrillard would say. Pure pleasure. I keep driving (…). I turn to the passenger and asked whose music it was. “It’s mine,” he says, “It’s my last album.” – where the protagonist falls into a deceptive trap where genders are different, where everything has its own consistency and where there is a logic to retrace every time you listen or you play.
Juan Cristobal Saavedra, known as Equipo, assembles house, techno IDM, electronic, dub and minimal and intervenes in media (art, cinema, interdisciplinary). This album is entitled Simulaciones and what it refers to is the initial story. Quite simply, when something tries to replicate something else, it moves further and further away from that something, because the reply will be within the replica itself, not the replicated. And this so much that, once the replication is completed, the simulation will exist independently of the other (and also as a singularity, given that it no longer appears as the one, but as this new other).
Like the music in the car simulated sources that has nothing to do with itself (sounds like electronics but is not electronic, it seems post-industrial but it is not), so is the mechanism of replication very far removed from one that replies to what the other responded. The result is “simulation”. Equipo turns just that into his own way of conceiving the simulation and he does so with a record that is a mix of different kinds of electronics (urban / street, downtempo, trip-hop, house, IDM, techno, ambient, etc..). Simulaciones leads to a generative kaleidoscope where we follow a stream of influences. One flaw: the distance between the concept and the sounding result. That is, if the message that this sends is original – and why not revolutionary (not in the sense of primitive, but in the sense of something that disrupts a way of thinking that is commonly followed) – the work as a whole does not sound revolutionary. Someone would give a definition, type minimal / avant-ambient or IDM, etc. but then he missed the point – and Equipo has already got his hands on it, and leaves us without words – because words, the words that are used to categorise have nothing to do with the music (including what I write).
So then, the real revolution takes place in considering “normal” this disruption. A common practice is the disguise of a reversal, a new consideration of the definition of “gender” as bunch of influences. Here, the influences are simulated, as one who, to measure fever, secretly put the thermometer on the radiator and then takes for good temperature reading. Simulation of influence.
In the writing by Roger Bernat in the press release for Simulaciones, the theatre man describes his first listening experience of the album during a nighttime highway drive, sitting next to his friend JC Saavedra. In addition to a mood that makes him feel one with landscapes and asphalt, he emphasizes the special charm of the complete border abolition between house, techno, electronica, dub, minimal and IDM he hears, once he understands that his passenger is the author of the music.
With the exception of House (and even seen in daylight there really is nothing of it on Simulaciones) one wants to agree with Roger Bernat. Equipo does not care about classifications, instead working closely with atmosphere and straightforwardness. The result is an album that oscillates between melodic balance and immediate access, not merely simulated in the best sense of a crossover, but entertaining. And it is not obvious how it has to work. Unpretentious, honest and fine.
Dance Like Shaquille O’Neal
From Barcelona comes the producer Juan Cristobal Saavedra. His musical project Equipo exists in parallel with his activities in the very diverse fields of art, cinema, theatre, contemporary dance and visual arts – and now comes the album “Simulaciones” on the clang label. Techno it is for sure, at times with strong traits not dissimilar to EDM and in general with a clear propensity for the blatant gesture, for drama. The music is not without a certain charm, unequivocally and buoyantly latin.