Late last week, we learned of the passing of a legend of electronic music production, Mexico’s Álvaro Ruiz Mayagoitia. His wide-ranging talent across various aliases (Balboa, Ruisort) should have gotten far wider recognition outside of Mexico. It turned with ease from glitchy experimental minimalism to hip-hop electronica to soundtracks, his imagination simply refused to be confined to a single form of expression.

The Mexico City-based composer/producer was capable of extraordinary range. Mexico City and is how I got to know him; his name just comes up regularly when you talk to anyone from the scene. Tijuana-based Static Discos posted this note to their social accounts:

We are very sad to learn about the passing of Álvaro Ruiz, one of Mexico’s greatest electronic music producers (Balboa, Ruisort). We released one of his tracks (a collab w/singer Iraida Noriega) in the early years of our label. This will hurt forever.

That track is a true gem and one of my favorites of his, featuring jazz diva Iraida Noriega and Juan Cristobal Perez Grobet on double bass.

STA004 | Various Artists | Stock

Because of those aliases, Álvaro Ruiz is a kind of digger’s dream. So there’s the Balboa project, which now is a little tricky to track down, but features far-out weirdo breakbeats and this spectacular title:

There’s Ruisort, which Drowned in Sound described thusly: “If Richard D. James took a long, long holiday to South America, became slightly delirious with sunstroke, developed a strong love for the trumpet and then, in his cerebrally incoherent state, decided to make an album…it might have sounded something like this…”

I’m not sure that will conjure up in your head what it sounds like, but it’s impossible to describe this anyway. YouTube appears to be the only place where this album exists unless you can track down a CD, so honestly… pirate it before it’s gone forever? Maybe someone will locate the masters and do a reissue? So, sure, AtomTM has Señor Coconut, which I definitely love. But sorry, Uwe, I think Álvaro covered more styles and aliases. (See this 2007 review in Spanish.)

Then there’s the wonderful cliks’n’cuts-crackling “Safety Positions,” which manages to use even more minimal resources than its European counterparts but – if you listen to Ruisort, also keeps a groove in it. It’s like Jan Jelinek and Vladislav Delay but, I don’t know, sounds like Mexico City and not Berlin to me. And when I say there’s been some injustice done to the artist, I do mean that: people who know Jan Jelinek really should also know Álvaro Ruiz, as he takes these ideas in his own direction:

For now, that EP is available on Internet Archive. Again, if the label wants to put this out separately, I’ll share it; as far as I know it’s unavailable on digital at the moment.

And then there’s Algorhythm & Blues, which Álvaro worked on with Harlem-born singer Tony Browne. That release has remixes from the likes of Deadbeat.

Here’s a live rendition of that project:

I honestly knew the more cerebral or purely experimental works, but those are no less fanciful. 2019’s “Kyma Works” is exquisite, starting with the haunting “Canción de Primavera.”

That one comes with some nice album notes from Atlanta’s Transvection Ltd.:

Transvection Ltd 008

Álvaro Ruiz – Kyma Works

Álvaro Ruiz Mayagoitia (Certificate 18, Nortec-Mil Records, Igloo, Filtro, Static Discos) is a reference in the contemporary global electronic music and an Arcane for the mexican electronic music. Each production, each album, sports a unique seal and a categorical twist on the current sound related realms in which he navigates.

After several years of not hearing anything new from this man, ‘Kyma Works’ comes to my ears…a nine-track album, or nine chapters in a novel, where the delicacy is a constant throughout this timeless work. Voices processed, strings as dark abstractions, digital errors sounding almost innocent, although the overwhelming burden of evil infused is disturbing at times…

…Mysterious passages turning the nerves on end, a remote feeling of being in places visited during dreams, the infinite closing of doors behind us, running scared and blindly into an infinite cliff expecting an accident.

A blender for emotions, being the ball of a macabre pinball, a free-jazz emulator, will the truce ever appears? The game continues, a repetition kept, the constant shock, the level of thickness rises, the latch opens and closes, the stories of the madman arrive on the stage, overloaded, dirty, the dirt capacity reached the edge.

Concrete neuronal massages, trembling seismic oscillations, let’s put the car into neutral, the next stop will be a perpetual purgatory, the calm will come…when the last sound has faded.

Needless to say, a future cult record.

—J. Audirac

Or take his contribution to one-minute compilation album “One Minute For the Stars” on Paris’ SEM label:

“Ritualism II” for channels Xenakis, but through a distinct voice:

It’s sad in a way that we don’t give more recognition to musical talent in general – equally depressing, though, as you look and think how poorly a lot of these releases are likely to be archived. The digital platforms we use are ephemeral and dominated by uncaring corporate interests; blogs and archival sites are slowly vanishing and the Web is being replaced by machine learning-generated chaos.

But that’s not to end in a moment of despair. Now is the time to sound the alarm and change course. And the least we can do is to make sure that Álvaro Ruiz’s legacy lives on and that scenes like Mexico’s get more love. It will be a joy to do so.