Matías Aguayo & DJ Spoko’s New EP is a Deliciously Disorienting Blast of South African House

Read more

Every creative can attest to the wonders of late-night brainstorming and impromptu jam sessions, and today we once more reap the rewards of spontaneous genius. Cómeme, the Germany-based label founded by Chilean producer, DJ, and overall wunderkind Matías Aguayo, just released a collaborative mini-album between The Don himself and South African Bacardi house madman DJ Spoko. Titled Dirty Dancing, the 6-song EP finds these two pillars of droning, glitchy dance music mixing their humor, tastes, and love of the dance floor for a fascinating transcontinental experiment.

Though Matías Aguayo retains his place as head honcho at Cómeme, he still finds plenty of time to record and perform new music. His last album, The Visitor, received heavy rotation and sent him on an international tour to the Americas, Europe, and beyond. Highlighting a broad range of sounds, the label touts its connection to South Africa’s vibrant electronic scene. Frequent and popular output from their stellar roster, which boasts talent like Dany F, Daniel Maloso, and Diegors, have led Cómeme to develop an unexpected following in underground South African parties. After an invitation to play some gigs and rep his talent, Aguayo headed to the motherland, immediately hitting it off with some local noisemakers. Particularly noteworthy: his fast and furious new friendship with local house savant DJ Spoko.

Over a day of in-studio jamming and a long night of smoking and laughing, the pair emerged with Dirty Dancing, a rollicking collection of songs built on whirring, jerry-rigged beats. The EP starts with “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost of Dombolo,” dirty, stripped-down tracks that showcase a rough-around-the-edges kinship between Latin American and African sounds. As one of the major proponents of Bacardi house, DJ Spoko’s signature is easy to spot, with a dizzying and sometimes incongruous flair defined by distinctly African percussion. Bacardi house, it should be mentioned, derives its name from the preferred rum brand of local partygoers hitting up Spoko’s events.

The second half of the EP goes in a more streamlined direction, with tracks “Taxi Rank,” “Esquina,” and “SM5” taking on airier, faintly pop dimensions. Guest appearances by Moonchild and Elbee Bad bring in much needed vocal assistance, breaking up the dense 4 a.m. deep house stupor, and allowing the listener to latch onto more familiar song structures. The overall effect of Dirty Dancing is one of seamlessness, where the songs comfortably transition in and out, like an expertly arranged DJ set.

The parallels between Spoko and Aguayo’s creative visions are evident. If you compare Spoko’s last album, War God, to Aguayo’s early classics, like “Rollerskate” and “Minimal,” the overlaps in the dreamy aesthetics are clear. As a listener, you’re unsure of where it all started and not entirely certain if things are going anywhere. This state of heightened disorientation permeates Dirty Dancing, bonding their artistic visions. You may very well enjoy this record on your headphones, but only loudspeakers and a dance floor can unlock the earth-shaking potential of this fated project.