Hailing from the city of Medellín in Colombia, Sebastian Hoyos – or Sano as he’s more commonly known – crafts a lurid sonic underclass. It’s a skewed brand of dance music, not necessarily something you’d experience at any kind of ‘normal’ club, but more a unique take on the genre that focuses on industrial doom and grimy, seedy electronics; it’s like the OST to some arthouse flick about a surrealist dystopia. Like Blade Runner on peyote. Regardless of the visions Hoyos is adept at conjuring, he weaves thumping bass with house hooks as masterfully as any Machiavellian ’90s beat-merchant. Although he incites vivid imagery with his sounds, that doesn’t detract at all from them.
Cuts like the clunking, jerky electro number Matasanos are exemplary of the seedy dance that Hoyos peddles; there’s no crystalline, pristine Rudimental here. Everything’s very fluid, very free. It feels almost like Hoyos is led by the music rather than actually leading it – it doesn’t always work out perfectly, but the paths he treads are always intriguing. On Matasanos, all the intertwining threads of percussion – the handclaps, the kick, the synths – blend together into this screwy mix of doomy electro-samba, which while not massively overt, are there to be gleaned. When you do, you’ll notice the Latin inspirations within Sano’s chosen style. Don’t press play expecting a trove of maracas, but the hedonistic bent and rhythmic focus are two common facets between the genres.
Digging around for the details on Hoyos brainchild is staggeringly tough work. Has he not heard of SEO? As such, much of the information on this record comes from a delirious press release: “Downstairs please, heaven can wait. Our destination is an urban Hades, an alluring underworld. When you’re mono-named (like Sano) your epithet sounds like a code word anyway. So let’s get in. At first we’re inside a studio in Medellín: ‘Convulsed jams at night, empty bottles, smoke and red lights flashing on the mixing desk. Next day, beer with orange juice and hours of plastic surgery on the screen. A black river, a dog from outer space and a sonic laboratory as witnesses.’” It’s like someone’s translated it through a filter of six different languages and then back to English. Pleasantly poetic, but ultimately meaningless.
Cotoneate begins with eurodance ‘uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss’ and hollow congas. The crispy claps again feature (something of a hallmark for Hoyos), ensuring a familiarity on this somewhat different effort. The synths are much more skeletal, reserved to bass duties only, and the main bulk of the music comes from various drums; while rhythm is a big part of the rest of the LP, it’s always backed by engorged, distended synths and skeevy squelches. Boquerón also challenges the mould set by Hoyos – it’s akin to a threadbare drum’n’bass, or even like a grime breakdown. It’s pacy, more so than much of Sano, and is incredibly minimalist. It’s texturally malnourished, an interesting contrast to the swollen layers of ditties like Paquidermos or the beautifully titled Necrophilic Love.
Strangely, for all the sci-fi, futurism and Amsterdam-ian sordidity (are either of those even words?), and the fact it’s dance-but-not-dance, it still manages to tug at strings like a maniac puppeteer. This is exquisitely carved dance music, even if you’d never, ever hear it played at a discotheque. If Disclosure represent pure white commercial dance, Sano is jet garage incarnate – same spectrum, polar opposite. You’ll find yourself wiggling every jiggly bit your mother gave you, but you’ll want to take a searing hot shower afterwards. So, to recap: Sano’s debut is dance, that’s not dance, that’s still dance.