Fax
Collaborations & Remixes
Static Discos
2005
B+



fax is Ruben Tamayo, an electronic sound artist from Mexicali, Mexico, who happens to have a really dull nombre de DJ. He is awesome, which I guess means very talented—he is also the graphic designer for all the releases from Static Discos, the greatest record label in Tijuana, Mexico—and ambitious.

Collaborations & Remixes is a record in which he collaborates and remixes stuff by other artists. It is almost awesome, which I guess means that most of the songs kick ass but some of them don't. It seems to depend on the artist with whom Fax is collaborating, or whom he is remixing. This is to be expected, I guess, but it just means that it fails to be transcendent all the time, and/or a little bit boring on some tracks. Such is life.

Tamayo traffics in minimalism, blips and beeps and glitchy clicky stuff coated with washes of synths, tiny melodies sneaking through murky textures. But he does it in a particularly Mexican way, I think; this is closer to all that Nortec stuff that was so much ballyhooed a few years ago—including by me. In fact, while the buzz on Nortec has died down, their artists are very much alive; there is a new record by Kobol that is out soon that kicks like Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Fax isn't all about the Sinaloense tuba/snare samples, but he captures some of that movement's flavor by mixing in some actual funk in with his tickytechy snippets.

I don't really know any of the "original tracks" that any of the other pieces are based on, but I like the collaborations the best. Alex Ayuli sings on a really weird piece called "Spellbound," where lions are drowning inside people's mouths and everything sounds all proggy and delicious. And Pepito (who I just found out are moving to Europe, damn it, I love those guys and now I'll NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN) punch in with a cool song called "Rocket"; we get José Marquez' trademark whisper—this time about blasting asshole Earthlings into space because they suck, and I agree, especially humans who move to EUROPE WITHOUT TELLING THEIR INTERNET CRITIC FRIENDS JOSÉ WHAT IS UP WITH THAT—and Ana Machado's trademark soft cooing in the background and the group's trademark stop-start sound, but now with additional soaring stuff from Tamayo that sends it over the top.

Loving, also, the two-song suite in the middle from artists from Lille, France: Jonas Bering's "Aslip" is psychoalphadiscobetabioaquatwostep with shimmers and shakes on top and business in the back, and Bern's "Aidin" makes clicks sound like cliques and synth stammers sound like bionic sex. "Cerca del Otro Lado (F-15)," by Ultra-red, with its big fat thump and its "Rise Up!" sample, makes me think of the big demonstrations going on right now in Mexico City, where the people are rallying around their leftist mayor who's being railroaded so he can't run for president. When Fax is on, he is on, like mole sauce on grilled tofu.

But when he's working with kind of eh people, his stuff is just kind of eh. Millimetrik's song "Déjà Vu" makes me want to say something about how I've heard it all before, big waves of just-okayness that fails to either soar or move my tiny gringo ass. The opening track, "20w" by Portable, almost falls into this category about halfway through, and is only saved by a great scratch sample that pops up out of nowhere. And the track with Murcof, one of my favorite Nortecistas, dithers too long with its atmospheric breathiness before getting to the dancey parts.

So it's a great record that could have some higher highs and fewer plateau stretches. Nothing wrong with that!


Reviewed by: Matt Cibula
Reviewed on: 2005-04-18
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