King of Electronic Nostalgia

By: José Manuel Simián

The year was 2004 and the sounds were fresh and elegant. On the cover of that vinyl album—we can still see it, winking at us from the record-store bin—was a mysterious face under an Afro, repeated three times. The slim letters read “Federico Aubele.” The title was Gran Hotel Buenos Aires. And for many nights, the record spun in our living rooms, giving a new sense of sophistication to the South American city with its subtle mix of tango, electronica and Spanish guitar. 

But while others stuck to the formula of electronic tango in the following years (we’re looking at you, Bajofondo), Aubele went on a quest of his own. On his third album, Amatoria, he succeeded in exploring the corners of romantic ballads, and in Berlin 13, he blended the techno sounds of the German city he lived in for two years into his sound. Now, on his fifth album, simply titled 5, Aubele has made his signature Buenos Aires downtempo even more layered and mysterious, as if he were closing the circle after a long trip. 

Composed and recorded over a period of two years at his Brooklyn studio, 5 is a beautifully crafted, multilayered affair—the result of a creative process that Aubele has described as like that of a painter in his atelier. Listen, for instance, to the first single, “Laberinto de Ayer,” a hypnotic blend of ballad, dub and bandoneón riffs that will put you in a nostalgic trance. It will also make you feel that Buenos Aires and Brooklyn are actually just a few blocks apart.

José Manuel Simián is the Executive Editor of Manero. He used to be a lawyer and is probably listening to Bob Dylan as you read this.