The architecture of techno leaves lots of room for negative space, but Matias Aguayo sketches in more than usual on his excellent Are You Really Lost. Big and mechanical as per custom, his beats smack but then reverberate into the ether, like blown kisses weighted by a sigh. The effect is sexy and mysterious—techno for robots with darting eyes and a tendency to swoon over love unrequited.
A member of the Kompakt noir act Closer Musik, Aguayo is one of several Chilean artists adding Latin rhythmic elements to Germanic techno. Unlike Ricardo Villalobos or Luciano, though, he adds mostly by taking away. "New Life" features cowbell clangs played by what sound like old men in white shoes, but the surrounding air is filled with the mesmeric hisses and whispers of machines left alone at night. The slow bassline trolls in a minor-key mood, and Aguayo's panting vocals ache alongside a high-pitched echo angled as anxious and resigned. The result is a kinetic dance track that doubles as an eerily resonant pop song. Most of Lost answers to similar cues, with a surfeit of ideas and invention. Tracks like "De Papel" and "Radiotaxi" gallop through melodic gurgles and beats that lean back, coolly, as momentum pulls them forward. The aptly titled "Drums & Feathers" derives part of its rhythm from flustered, breathy grunts, and the slow gait of "Well" draws on a bit of mute guitar nestled into arid snare taps. Aguayo's singular brand of techno is delicate yet forceful, prissy yet prickly for the way its mood suffuses a room through slow insistence. He leaves lots of air bare, but that air circulates agents that alter breathing patterns without revealing their true intentions.