Closer Musik's unexpected split had a heartbreaking effect. Dirk Leyers and Matias Aguayo left only one album, a couple singles, and three consecutive show-stealing appearances on the Total compilations. They were Kompakt's Pet Shop Boys, or Associates, a male duo with a distinct sound. One of the things that made Closer Musik so dazzling -- and perhaps, ultimately, so combustible -- was the tension between the two producers' disparate idiosyncrasies, made clear when Leyers unveiled his first solo 12" in early 2005. "Wellen"'s bulbous, trance-inducing melodies and gentle coating of synthetic atmospherics were in line with CM's "Departures" and "Maria," so it could've been deduced that the relatively rigid, stripped-down shapes within "Closer Dancer" and "You Don't Know Me" were the work of Aguayo. That theory holds with Are You Really Lost, an album Aguayo produced with assistance from Marcus Rossknecht. "De Papel," the only track that comes close to resembling a song or a single in the traditional sense, starts it off by indicating Aguayo's desire to separate himself from his past while retaining his identity. It has the dark undercurrents of old, as well as the sparse and alluring skeletal sound -- a sashaying gallop in this case -- but there's an added muskiness, and Aguayo's voice sounds more human while intoning lyrics that are either completely nonsensical and/or enunciated as if he has lost the feeling in his lips. He always has and probably always will sound like he's trying to get in your pants, but he's no longer so mysterious (despite the gibberish). The rest of the tracks are more like moods or sketches, in each case settling into a motif and more or less relying on it for four to six minutes. They're not all that dynamic, but they're often seductive and misshapen, ideal for an impossibly humid room of dancers who are too overheated to do anything but grind. On "Drums and Feathers" and "Are You Really Lost," Aguayo's vocals are reduced to primal grunts and sexual gasps that respectively zip from left to right and hit like jabs. On "New Life," he returns to the prowling gigolo heard in "Closer Dancer" and "Ride," dropping come-ons ("Tell me I'm cold/I don't care/'Cause I know that you're hot/Yes, you're hot") that would only be effective for their deliveries, while on "Well," he's out for the same exact thing but assumes a more naïve role. As for the lesser moments, there's "The Green & the Red," an awkward children's song (in which Red, who sounds like a cyborg Cartman, comes in at the end to pledge affection for Green), and then there's "So in Love," a lightly pumping track involving a chant of the days of the week and a repeated declaration from someone who sounds like an obscene phone caller. Are You Really Lost is polarizing as much as anything else, but nearly anyone who comes into contact with it should be able to agree that it's one of the strangest albums Kompakt has released.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Max Turner