Ricardo Villalobos is a master of spaced-out minimalism. He helped pioneer that and the microhouse genres with his groundbreaking 2003 album Alcachofa. But his work extends far beyond the early 2000s, with plenty of inspired original work and mind-blowing remixes; as well as collaborations with high-profile artists not normally associated with dance music.
And while it’s next to impossible to pinpoint the ‘definitive best’ of anyone’s releases—especially someone as prolific and far-reaching as Ricardo—we thought we’d try anyway before he plays the MDRNTY Cruise from June 10th to 13th.
It sets sail from Genoa and stops in Sardinia and Corsica before returning to Genoa and Cassy, Guti (live), Matthias Tanzmann, Pan-Pot, Black Coffee, Apollonia, Osunlade, Behrouz and many more all play. Next to the music, the cruise offers pop-up events, artistic and technological shows, film and documentary screenings, exhibitions of contemporary art, electronic yoga and much more.
Easy Lee - (Playhouse) 2003
Taken from his Alcachofa LP. An all time classic.
Dexter - (Playhouse) 2003
Possibly Ricardo’s most well-known and well-loved tunes. Moody and abstract, yet enticing throughout.
Hireklon - (Perlon) 2004
Villalobos had a long and fruitful relationship with Perlon, evidenced by his second long player, Thé Au Harem D'Archimède. Only someone with a mind like Villalobos would begin an album with “Hireklon,” a dark, strange and brilliant dose of music.
Two Kids Set Off - (Perlon) 2012
Taken from Villalobos’ second Perlon LP, Dependent And Happy, “Two Kids Set Off” features samples taken from phone calls made during the Columbine High School shooting, as well as interviews conducted in the aftermath. It’s a particularly bold statement, and few if any other producer could pull it off. But it’s exactly why Ricardo is such a mad genius.
Enfants (Chants) - (Sei Es Drum) 2008
An enchanting record on its own, when combined with the B-side “Enfants (Tambours)” as it was meant to, Ricardo’s true brilliance shines as brightly as ever.
808 The Bass Queen - (Lo-Fi Stereo) 1999
Contemplative and sentimental, this classic predates some of Villalobos’ more stripped back work. And the fluttering chords and uplifting strings make for an altogether emotional track.
Recat - (ECM Records) 2011
Ricardo is sometimes at his most daring when collaborating. Especially when his partner isn’t from the dance music world at large. Enter German sound scientist Max Loderbauer, a prolific production veteran known for his avant-garde sounds. Together, they produced Re: ECM, an abstract journey through textures of ambient, experimental and jazz. While the album should be taken as a whole, “Recat”’s ethereal melodies and jazz-inspired drum patterns are standout.
Mas Profundo Que Mis Pies - (Perlon) 2013
More wild music from two men who might be from another dimension.
Peculiar - (Sei Es Drum) 2010
What do you get when you combine the minimalism of Ricardo Villalobos with the smoky vocals of soul legend Marvin Gaye? This bomb—perfect for the after party.
Fizheuer Zieheuer - (Playhouse) 2006
No Villalobos list would be complete without without one of his infamous lengthy tracks. It takes someone special to captivate over 37 minutes using just one main sample, which shows the man’s artfulness and capacity for mad scientist-like creativity in the studio. There’s only one Ricardo, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
MDRNTY 002 is out soon via Mdrnty Switzerland. Pre-order it here.