Alejandro Arroyo – Open Cycle/Ignite (CHANGE AUDIO)

This is the debut release from young Chilean producer Alejandro Arroyo – not just on CHANGE AUDIO, but period. For the label’s ninth release Alejandro Arroyo offers up two original tracks, ‘Open Cycle’ and ‘Ignite’, while remixes come from heavyweights Andre Sobota and MUUI.

‘Open Cycle’ is instantly melodic and enticing, with rippling, swirling synths pulling the listener in from the 30-second mark, before the track drops into a surprising breakdown. Here urgent stabs bounce around, while throaty growls and snare rolls set up the onslaught to follow. The track finally throws all its weight in, with a chugging, hypnotic bassline and crisp percussion, and begins its ascent to the main breakdown. Here we’re treated to a soothing wood-wind melody, before the track hits its stunning climax, the bass playing out a spine-tingling chord sequence underneath sparkling melodies and uplifting vocal work, before the track picks back up and motors its way until the end. This is wonderful stuff from Alejandro Arroyo, and it could hardly be topped as an opening gambit.

Andre Sobota is making his second appearance on CHANGE here, having turned in a superb remix of Navid Mehr’s ‘1984’ last year. His take on ‘Open Cycle’ initially sticks very close to Alejandro Arroyo’s version, but the initial breakdown after the first minute already gets the chord changes from the original onto the table, and when the remix really gets going, there’s no mistaking Sobota’s hand on the tiller. Springy drums and a taut, motoring groove drive things forward, while the vocal sample and a restrained take on the woodwind from the original get worked in on top, giving the remix its high-point.

‘Ignite’ is the second original from Alejandro Arroyo, and it’s less melodic than ‘Open Cycle’, but it compensates by packing more of a punch. Opening with hefty percussion and bass, the track’s initial build over the first minute leads to a real body-slam when it fully engages. Cool vocal snippets and stabs, wielded through a series of dramatic peaks and troughs, while the breakdown plays with filters before unleashing a wall of bass and thundering percussion. This is powerful stuff, and the attention to detail throughout really keeps the listener gripped throughout.

CHANGE favourite MUUI returns to the label, offering a more minimal take on ‘Ignite’ with his ‘Paranoid Remix’. Starting out percussive, the track soon hits cruising altitude with a churning bass and skull-splitting hi-hits. True to its name, MUUI’s remix starts to build a subtle but creepy distorted hook,the halfway point introduces some trippy keys and sinister pads, while the breakdown all but deconstructs the track. On the whole, though, MUUI’s remix is just a little bit too dark for my tastes, and so I’ll be sticking with Alejandro Arroyo’s original.

Despite boasting remixers of the caliber of Andre Sobota and MUUI on this release, it’s Alejandro Arroyo’s two originals that really push my buttons here, with ‘Open Cycle’ slightly having the edge – but only slightly. This is an outstanding debut and an outstanding release, and it leaves me wondering what else is in store from Alejandro Arroyo, and how CHANGE can try to top it for their tenth release. 8.5/10

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