From the first second of VOLFE's fast, thumping opener "Club Mate" you know you're getting into something you haven't heard before with it's dizzying almost-fractured MPC work. You can hear the meticulous attention given to every sound in every bar, parts of VOLFE may have you imagine it being made with the aid of a giant spliff sprinkled with the ashes of both La Monte Young and King Tubby. The uptempo stuttering rhythms and twitchy high-hats meshed with dark spooky vibes on lean tracks like "Gore Text" and "Can't Work" sit nicely with the more spacious, sexy sounds of "Z Trail" and "Experimental Forest". An incredibly promising and unique debut, we're left eagerly awaiting what San Gabriel has in store for us in the near future.
Stylistically, the record runs the gamut from spindly, Casio-tone hip-hop to uptempo bass mutations. “Club Mate,” presumably a tribute to the German energy drink, marries Nintendo melodies and elephant cries to speedy, fractured breakbeat techno; “Can’t Work” sounds like a woozy, kaleidoscopic fusion of juke and dancehall reggae. There’s a distinctly globalist perspective at work, roping in elements of cumbia, moombahton and South African house; “Montaña de Tormenta” (which translates, coincidentally, as “Mountain of Torment”) is a kind of super-charged, kuduro-inflected U.K. funky that reminds me a little of Portugal’s DJ Marfox. All in all, it’s a smart, inspired record that blazes its own trail.
Batalla Ultima’ is anything but normal, and functions as an effective concision of Fuego’s masterfully strange ear for rhythm, and the width of sounds he’s exploring as San Gabriel. Tropicalia drums and moombahton riddims are all present but none in quite the way you think. ‘Batalla Ultima’ builds itself to several peaks across its three minutes, twisting only a few elements into strikingly different configurations