Franco Bianco is an Argentinean producer of dance/techno/minimal of such depth and imagination that his music could be described as experimental. For example, Origenes (yet another excellent release from Miga netlabel) is ostensibly a minimal EP, but the further it goes the broader it gets. Bear with me.
Migros Budget, the first track of five, features a ragamuffin intro, the tightest of beats, a rock-steady bassline, fluttering percussion, layers upon layers of funky hi-hats, beautifully reverberating, echoing noises and a breakdown fit to grace any slab of electronica. Phew. And did I mention that it's a slayer of a dance track that walks softly and carries a big stick?
Franco plays with the reverb of the opening drum roll of Complejos Out of Stock and then drops a rolling rhythm (stuttering sighs and high-pitched synths fill out the beat beautifully). The latin piano riff is great fun (though I'd have preferred a richer piano sound), especially when it departs in a welter of echoes and then makes a choppy, funky return.
After those two excellent examples of minimal/techno, the EP stretches its legs and offers Patriarca, which might be the world's first attempt at gothic minimal. What sounds like Native American chanting (forgive my ignorance) slips in and out of ghostly synths lines and unpredictable percussion. The gnarly, spooky bass line, the ambient noise of insects, and the chimes and glitches all combine to produce an atmospheric listen that's also a head-nodder. This is not your ordinary dance music.
To further the point, your ears will have to move to Africa for the opening salvo of drums and chanting that open Intensidad Juraschek. White noise snares and (comb-filtered?) percussive elements skitter across the drums before intensifying into a metallic snowstorm of a breakdown. It's intense.
The title track conforms to the general rule of every dance track ever made: it could lose a third without any harm. However, unlike most dance tracks, it starts with a bleating goat and ends with a rhythmical, echoing children's conversation embedded in a sea of synths, percussion and bass. Origenes could be described as danceable ambient. It's a terrific example of studio wizardry and compositional imagination.
It's amazing to think that such a superb little album is available for free. Let's hope that Origenes encourages music fans to catch one of Franco's many tour dates. (Yes, I know he's just finished a world tour - you should know by now that Catching The Waves is more behind the times than Rupert Murdoch. Heh. Did you see what I did there? Times/The Times? No? Tsk. I blame the credit crunch.)
Franco Bianco - Origenes (link to individual files)
This review's title is, of course, a tribute to the maestro of mid-tempo, John Shuttleworth.