With The Tiger, Matias Aguayo returns to Kompakt with his first EP for the label since 2014’s Legende. Since then, he’s been busy with all manner of experiments and explorations – a monthly radio show on Worldwide FM, 2019’s Support Alien Invasion; the essential El Rudo Del House series; an album on Crammed Discs with his group The Desdemonas; collaborations with Sano and Gladkazuka (as Rionegro), DJ Spoko, Mujaji, Julianna, a new trio with DJs Pareja, named MDM Factory, and the latest offering on his Cómeme imprint, El Cameron featuring Ricardo Villalobos. But something special happens when Aguayo returns to the mothership, as though he’s reconnecting with something essential: “pop melancholy is just right there,” he says.
On The Tiger, Aguayo is in touch with the core of the flame, the music that’s at the centre of his being. While most of the music may have originated “in the foggy Mexican forest,” he’s sure that the EP is “still a Cologne record,” something you can hear as soon as the prowling bass, shuffling rhythms and ghostly voices of the title track lope stealthily into earshot. The titular character is caught up in the sensuous tangle of the night, that space between dusk’s delirium and dawn’s dreaming. Aguayo sings, “Do you see the same I see? Are we having the same dream?” – here, he’s picturing an after-hours revelation, “on a warm muggy night with all sorts of background noise from various nightwalking animals – but at the same time, I was a city dweller stranded in the jungle, who still dressed like he was about to go to the disco.”
The ascending, ever-circling bass of “Nightshift, The Red” tells another story, a spiralling mantra that’s hypnotically psychedelic, yet elegant, refined, filled with sonic textures you can almost reach out and touch, like knotted twists of exotic fabric. “The lyrics are very associative and somewhere between urban and jungle nightlife,” Aguayo mentions, “fireflies shine, but also the reflections of the disco ball.” “Show Me What You’re Feeling” takes us back to the 1990s, with Aguayo re-working some vocal and lyrical fragments from three decades ago, its beautiful uncertainty remarkable in what Aguayo calls its “extremely emotional openness”. Dappled with melancholy, it’s a lover’s hymn to intimacy and vulnerability.
Aguayo signs off The Tiger with “El Propio Propio”, a celebratory ending to an EP that’s rich and complex, full of lovely musical moments – the tender melodies woven through “Show Me What You’re Feeling”; the warping, pliable, plastic textures that Aguayo crumples and crinkles through “El Propio Propio”. Like much of Aguayo’s music, The Tiger highlights the senses, to advance a new sensibility, one that inhabits a fever-dream of hints and clues, a mystery that’s solved by the deep, dark sensuality of the rhythms here, fully in love with the nightlife. It finds its exoticism in unexpected moments, sideways glances, surprising twists and turns. After all, as Aguayo says, “moths are far more glamorous and mysterious than butterflies.”