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NIGHT LIFE

Brazil's sunny Gui Boratto plays house at Avalon

January 24, 2008|August Brown

BRAZILIAN producer Gui Boratto writes sensual, gauzy house music that seems more appropriate for heavy petting than for hard dancing or drugs. He plays guitar onstage, samples his wife singing and put a montage of an older couple doing laundry and making breakfast in the video for his single "Beautiful Life," off his debut solo album "Chromophobia." For this, he has a not-undeserved reputation as a romantic.

"So many different people seem to enjoy the album, not only experimental techno guys," Boratto says. "There are many young people at the clubs now. Girls especially."

Check your Latin-lover cliches at the door, however, when Boratto headlines "Made in Brazil," a fourth installment of the popular showcase of progressive Brazilian electronica, on Saturday at Avalon. For all its bleeding-heart textures and transportive melodies, "Chromophobia" was one of 2007's smartest and most sonically intricate records, techno or otherwise. Although Brazilian culture of late has been heavily filtered through its notoriously violent favelas (see "City of God," rapper Diplo's astoundingly dirty baile funk compilations), "Chromophobia" evokes a more cosmopolitan (if ever seductive) Brazil that belongs on the Berlin-London-Tokyo axis of cutting-edge night life.

"A lot of Americans who saw 'City of God' were afraid to come to Rio de Janeiro," Boratto says. "You'll see young kids with heavy guns like they use in real wars. But Sao Paulo is a city of 20 million people, it's a really strong scene and as updated as any city in Europe."

A popular local and international DJ for nearly a decade, Boratto only seriously began his solo career in 2003 (coincidentally, on a compilation of remixes from the "City of God" soundtrack). A series of well-regarded singles followed, like the campy jitters of "Arquipelago" and the bubbling, spacious "Mr. Decay," each of which were standouts but typical cuts for Kompakt Records, the taste-making German techno label that released "Chromophobia." But it wasn't until the cascading and unabashedly sentimental "Beautiful Life" caught on with mainstream DJs such as Sander Kleinenberg and adventurous indie rockers (it was Pitchfork's 24th-best song of the year) that he was able to break from the minimalist nerd ghetto.

"It's a pop track, and maybe it's a bit cheesy because it's so happy," Boratto says. "My wife sang the vocal hook, and she's not a professional singer at all. It's so naive and I think people liked that."

Now, he's at the vanguard of both progressive and popular electronica with an international performance schedule to match. But sometimes he still has to sneak in hidden popular pleasures under cover of austerity at gigs.

"In Italy, they passed this law where if the club is playing techno, you can't sell drinks after 2 a.m.," Boratto says. "It was based off of some big study that that said more accidents come from techno clubs, it was so stupid. In Florence, the owner of the club snuck a bottle under the DJ booth for me, but the rest of the club wasn't allowed to have any."

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-- August.Brown@latimes.com

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MADE IN BRAZIL

WHERE: Avalon Hollywood, 1735 Vine St., Hollywood

WHEN: 11 p.m. Saturday

PRICE: $20

INFO: With Joao Lee and Rodrigo Ayala. (323) 462-8900

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