Imaabs’ ‘Hype’ Is a High-Octane Critique of the Music Industry Machine

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Concept-driven instrumental electronic music is tricky; it takes special talent to convey complexity and depth without using a single word. Mexico’s NAAFI crew is one collective that has been successful in bringing these kinds of politics to the dance floor, with Imaabs being one of its most restless thinkers. The Chilean producer has just self-released a new pack titled Hype, in which he employs irony as a critique of the music industry and capitalism as a whole.

In this collection, Imaabs characterizes hype as an inevitable consequence of artistic production in today’s society. The overwhelming raptor house beat of opener “Disolución” was used to soundtrack a vodka ad, a clever wink to the expectations that brands, fashion houses, and media outlets have for artists to “succeed,” be it through self-exploitation or the infiltration of brands into musical creation.

The three other tracks, all of which were created during the 2016 edition of Mutek.Mx, comment on aspects of club culture instead. “Filo” is an almost 12-minute track that parodies the sometimes unnecessary length of house dubs, with ice-cold atmospheres and a Gqom-inspired non-beat. “Without Hype” blasts Chile’s house and techno scenes and the popularity of presumed lo-fi aesthetics, which are often very glossy in practice. The EP closes with a club edit of Svey’s “Skins,” using her cosmic vocals to clash with Imaabs’ own industrial machinations.

Indeed, as Imaabs himself puts it, irony falls right in between humor and critique. Hype is an open reflection on his own struggles as a Latin American artist – but it’s one you can dance to.