Antonio Caballero’s musical interest began at a young age when he discovered the Chicago rave scene and was simultaneously blessed with a cheap, Roland Synthesizer. Since that time, the artist has developed a style dependent on latin-inspired, interlocking percussion, layered melodies, and brooding ambience. His first release was the Snowtr_ck EP released under his pseudonym Syphon. The success of this release (amongst many others) has led the artist to find his niche in the musical world under Parity Records, which focuses on minimalist-techno recordings. His latest release, “Time EP” is a series of remixes done by a collection of renowned EDM artists, and creates an intricate tapestry with Caballero at its core. But does it reach its desired diversity and energy? I’d argue that it does not, but holds as a decent listen.
The opening track, “Time (Original Mix),” starts with the ticking of a clock, creating an ominous yet steady atmosphere. Slowly, textures are added to the music: a synth shaker, a walking bass, a hand drum, until the song becomes something of a salsa tune. The synth pan flute melody floating above the music and the low, grungy bass line, solidify the nuanced atmosphere of the track into its hardest groove, and then a slow decline until the music is left with nothing but the same ticking of a clock.
An interesting tune, but it never really peaks as I had hoped. There’s so much buildup, so much tension and layering, I thought it had to be leading somewhere. And while the high point of the track is danceable and incorporates Salasa/Samba influence, there’s no release, which left me feeling dissatisfied.
Track two is seemingly an answer to my problems with track one. “Time (D’Malicious Mix)” foregoes the patience of the first track, plunging the music into a neurotic techno groove from the outset. The beat is bass heavy and punctuated by rapid beeps and blurts, and the track gains an atmospheric moan as the pan flute transforms into an eerie wail. The end of the piece brings in what sounds like the ringing of a toy bell, giving the music a much-needed tangible element. It’s sexy and mysterious tune, and ultimately more accessible due to its shorter run time and its harder energy.
“Time (Uron Deletech Mix)” is an interesting stand alone, but when placed into context with the rest of the album, it tends to blend. Deletech takes a more traditional approach to the track. Instead of adding layers of melody and rhythm, the music tends to expand and manipulate its existing material. The droning bass line and the time-keeping bass drum bring to mind early DJ Pierre. The voice samples are thoroughly incomprehensible, added in at random moments for an extra stroke of texture. There’s not much of an energy arc to the track, and it grows boring to after a while. I appreciated the minimalist mentality and the attention paid to bass tones, but overall, this mix was forgettable.
Track four, “Time (Mahura Mix),” breaks up the redundancy of the last track, utilizing searing, metallic samples, and expansive atmospheres. The bleakness is offset by the addition of the acoustic piano line reflecting off the barriers of the stereo field. This is the most industrial of the mixes, often sounding like moans from within an abandoned factory. The music refuses to stay in one place, always leading the listener’s ear in one direction or another. Ultimately, I like this track as a headphone piece, not as a dance tune. The music is far too subdued, too relaxed and unhurried to get me up and moving.
While the previous track was overly subdued, the following track, “Time (Fumikzau Kobayashi Mix)” was a too in-your-face. The synth tones are loud and obnoxious, the bass line bubbly and consistent, and the drum beat is so bland it’s hard to notice its presence. Kobayashi is seemingly attempting to transform the original mix into some kind of auto-tuned pop nightmare. Underwhelming and superficial, this mix, in my opinion, falls far behind the rest. There’s no real vigor or force behind the music. It’s as if a computer composed the track.
The final track, “Time (Syhpon Mix),” earns its spot as closer. With its hip and heavy bass line, random static bursts, and ugly metallic groans, this track succeeds as the most disorienting and texturally complex of the mixes. The drumming is sparse and tasteful, never overpowering and never lending itself towards an easy dance tune. The ending plays with structure, removing various loops, splicing and reordering rhythmic lines, taking advantage of the fact that there’s no melody to adhere to whatsoever. I do feel this track could have used a deeper atmosphere, which I believe would have led to some kind of energy build, as the music stays static almost the whole way through.
I like the diversity of “Time EP,” its ability to take one idea movie it in multiple directions. I do, however, feel that this album did not reach its full potential. The album holds one energy level through all six tracks, making the music bland and emotionally empty. Some interesting territory is explored for certain, but on the whole, the music is just too safe. None of the artists take a leap and make the music something wildly different than it was originally. I find that cowardly. I enjoyed listening, but probably won’t revisit this album.