Santiago Salazar, Arcade


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If Salazar turned in his needles today he’d leave sporting a first-class resume: member of the legendary Underground Resistance, core contributor to live acts like Los Hermanos, and steady recording mercenary for Carl Craig’s Planet E. So it’s not like S2’s aching for a new belt-notch. If anything, his latest on Macro proves that he’s still out busting his hump like the rest of them to turn out quality music. “Arcade” is gorgeous, emotive techno, an exemplary scene of machines catching feelings: the bleedings of a robot heart. The track is propelled by moody saw-wave synths and a sense of near-balearic drift teased out by the snakings of vaguely Oriental leads. A balance of a restrained, yet bright tonal palette together with a general sinusoidal expressiveness lands it not far from being a Gui Boratto jam. If the tune’s in fact meant as an arcade experience, think Tron-style rabbit hole immersion, a hallucinatory symbiosis of player and game, the fleeting transports offered by a roll of quarters and an overactive imagination.

Riding momentum from his killer “Art of Sorrow,” Macro master Stefan Goldmann turns in a fluid and patient remix that’s double the length, in which elements of Salazar’s original now pass like strands in a growing quilt. The first half is fairly straightforward; it’s the mutations in the second half that will command your attention. From the halfway point on, enjoyment of this track will largely be contingent on your stance towards the uses and abuses of traditional Asian instruments in dance music — koto and flute, specifically. Their deployment in this context is a careful balancing act: done well, they lace a track with an air of elegant mystery; done poorly, they invoke any number of kitsch-tastic images: cheapo samurai flicks, take-out restaurant muzak, the pre-recorded backing tracks favored by subway buskers. In other words, Goldmann can be lauded not only for turning in the sort of monster re-work you thought he would, but also for swerving to avoid pan-flute hell. He pulls this off by eschewing the dangers of sugary melodies and concentrating, with all the micro-finesse of a watchmaker, on allowing the instruments to deftly chime across the 4/4 rhythm — operatic to be sure. You get the pounding of the heart, and above it, the soaring of the soul. Goldmann’s upped the passion considerably from S2’s already-swooning original, and when it comes time to land the remix, he decides to take it all the way into a super-long symphonic splashdown. Killer on the dance floor? To be sure. I imagine it also goes great with sweet and sour chicken.

kartsaklis  on May 19, 2009 at 1:18 AM

can’t wait to get a copy of this. what a great sound.

Chris Burkhalter  on May 19, 2009 at 1:44 AM

An excellent review of an excellent track. You’re a master of illustrative musical description here.

Jordan Rothlein  on May 19, 2009 at 8:59 AM

Awesome review! It really is that tension between high techno art and utter cheesiness that makes the Goldmann remix one of my absolute favorites right now. I know the dude who reviewed this over at RA threw a bit of a fit over how “New Age” sections of this remix sound. But in my book, some of the finest dance floor moments out there are the ones that will earn you the fewest cool points. Granted, samurai B-movies and pan pipe dudes on the subway are pretty freaking cool in my book, but I digress.

hutlock  on May 19, 2009 at 10:04 AM

I actually prefer the original. Goldmann’s remix is good, but it does get a bit too cheezee in spots.

Tsiridis  on May 19, 2009 at 10:09 AM

This is unbelievable. And Macro has been so steadily good.

adamv  on May 19, 2009 at 10:09 AM

glad to see a positive review of this

the stefan goldmann remix is a future classic imo.

this is techno for the end of time, and i will be caning it until the end of time

Santiago Salazar  on May 19, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Yes, Stefan’s remix goes perfect with Sweet n’ Sour chicken washed down with some Hot Sake.

Thanks for the review and comments.

“the bleedings of a robot heart” – Classic!

Kuri  on May 21, 2009 at 1:02 AM

Good to see S2’s solo effort getting the praise it deserves. Not sure why this release has garnered so much partisanism but the original version is just a standout track, distinguishing Salazar as a producer that is pushing techno forward into new areas.


Little White Earbuds May Charts - Little White Earbuds  on June 4, 2009 at 10:09 PM

[…] One” [Time to Express] 04. STL, “Six In a Row” [Smallville Records] 05. Santiago Salazar, “Arcade” [Macro] 06. Bsmnt City Anymle Kontrol, “The Perfekt Sin” [Wild Oats] 07. Tony Lionni, […]

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