There's a good chance that you're going to look back on 2008 as the year you discovered Los Updates. And to think that it all began with this record: Los Updates First If You Please
Los Updates is the latest project from Chilean musical mastermind Jorge González together with Loreto Otero. Jorge González—not to be confused with the Swedish crooner José González—is one of the country's best-known musical ambassadors. His group Los Prisioneros defined the sound of Chilean rock in the '80s and '90s, standing in opposition to Pinochet's military dictatorship, selling out stadiums across the Americas and laying the groundwork for today's Rock en Español movement.
In the '90s, as electronic-music culture took root in Chile, González teamed up with Martin Schopf (aka Dandy Jack) to create Gonzalo Martinez, a wide-ranging experiment in Latin-tinged electro-pop. Aided and abetted by the usual suspects in Latin America's eccentric expat electronica scene - Argenis Brito, Atom Heart, Tobias Freund aka Pink Elln, Gonzalo Martinez released two albums and a handful of singles in 1998 and 1999. Now based in Mexico City and working alongside the beguiling Loreto Otero, González launches the next phase of his musical career with Los Updates, a project that connects the dots between mindbending minimal house and unabashed pop.
Perhaps appropriately for an artist who has rewritten the rules at every step of the way, Los Updates aren't taking the most conventional route to release their music. They've prepped two 12-inch singles—Los Updates First If You Please — The Remixes — featuring original cuts backed by remixes from Ricardo Villalobos, Dandy Jack, Luciano, Tobias and other Los Updates companions. And now, this special CD release will follow, gathering all Los Updates' originals along.
González vocals and obliquely narrative lyrics are doubtless the centerpiece, veering between singing and speaking, falsetto highs and baritone lows. (His accent, in English, is also almost adorably absurd). But he backs up an unforgettable vocal performance with equally compelling production, crafting an addictive groove out of rubbery synthesizers, clattering drum machines and oddball samples galore. There's no doubt that he has top-notch studio chops, but González makes his outsider status a virtue: his beats don't sound like anyone else's.
In the Jorge González’ inimitable, irrepressible style, the tracks swarm and squirm with bubbling congas, bouncing accordion blips and blasted strands of reverb. Full of motion and color, the songs balance the intensity of house and techno with the playful spirit of Raymond Scott. Riding a long, loping groove and leaning hard on a battery of psychoacoustic effects, this is Los Updates at their most focused, drilling to the heart of the dancefloor one friction-filled bar at a time, even as González' commanding vocals swell to fill the room.
"Getting Late" opens with anxious, squirrelly bass lines and dry, fidgety drum work that mutates bar by bar; it eases into the groove with optimistic guitar figures and Jorge's curiously ambivalent lyrics:
"It's getting late for kicks/
And no one else will help for free/
The city lights are fading out/
Bank tellers dance to the heat."
Quirky, moving and instantly memorable, it's a sophisticated pop song displaying a rare degree of musical maturity. Jorge's seductive voice escorts us through it all like a superhero soaring above the aurora borealis.
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