Paulor from the Mayan Warrior – Burning Man 2018

Paulor has been one of my favorite discoveries from the past 6 months. Brought to me (and you) by way of You and Your Hippie Friends, the sister label of Paris based Hippie Dance. Hippie Dance was founded by perennial boppers Rebolledo and Superpitcher, who together form the effervescently named Pachanga Boys. It appears to be primarily an outlet for their own mindful productions, with a light salting of other artists represented. The creation of a sister label feels like a mere categorization move; a place to curate “their friends” unreleased music, though, of course, it is marketed as an artistic vision. Regardless, the productions released on You and Your Hippie Friends so far have delivered new looks at established producers, and first takes on producers being called up from obscurity. Paulor falls into the latter category.

Plucked from Monterrey, Mexico’s premier club TOPAZdeluxe, which in turn plucked him from the architecture trade, Paulor seems to be somewhat of a crown prince for the label. His boiling blends of rock riffs, minimal techno, and forward thinking disco are helping ossify the artistic ambitions these so-called Hippie Friends. Before its release, his track Paulor’s Blues s gained significant steam amongst DJ’s, and now the infamous cut is wooing streamers on his eponymous debut EP. Its a slick rolling beat behind prominent rock guitar riffs, well suited for slow-lane cruising through the desert from Vegas to LA with a pack of cigarettes for a friend.

The desert feels like a natural companion to Paulor and his style. To be in the desert is to be in a place where you don’t really belong; there is no water, little food, and the weather patterns will kill you in any season. It is harsh, unforgiving, and eerily still. It feels at once ancient and alien. To be there is to drink of the essence of isolation, and flirt with the terror of loneliness. In this way, the desert might just be the coolest biome, or at the very least home to the counterculture. The Hippie movement may have once sunk its roots in San Francisco, and around campuses, but it does so no longer. It was outpriced and moved to the desert. The desert is where people go to live with a sense of abandon, free from pressures of supervision and narcissism. Free to explore the undulations of individualism.

Honestly, I know next to nothing about Paulo Rodriguez the person, and what his predispositions about the desert are, but from what I can tell, he at least seems to enjoy it in some form or another. He bid Tim Sweeney to join him in the desert during his interview on Beats in Space. The desert, in many instances, is an artistic crucible, and there is no crucible more vibrant and audacious than the Burning Man festival. Presumably, this is what Paulor was referring to when he spoke with Sweeney. Paulor has participated in the Mayan Warrior sound and visual installation at the festival for a number of years. Below is his set from 2018.

It is a rollicking set that starts slow and builds into a party steeped in frothing minimalist beats and soaring melodies. At the beginning, Paulor appears to be playing out from the Mayan Warrior to a handful of people, but by the end, he has pulled in quite the crowd. As he moves from warm-up tunes to peak tracks his body language hardly changes. He almost looks bored, or aloof in his poncho as he nonchalantly sways back and forth. Given that he is standing on a huge art installation that aesthetically pays homage to the ancient Maya civilization while blasting lasers and electronic music at onlookers, I would say it would be a mistake to call him aloof. More likely he is dosed with a few mushrooms, or MDMA, or a little bit of both if he knows what’s up. If it’s true, the man has a lock on proper apportionment for his body, because it doesn’t appear to affect his mixing, and there were no erratic selections.

The set is a head-bobbing affair for about the first half, then the energy picks up and footwork is obliged. At 49:30 he begins an extended transition into Little by Pauli vs Alden Tyrell. It is a housey head pleaser designed to induce serotonin. Not exactly an experiment in sound design, its signature synth line is at once epic and familiar. An excellent track to pull in the wanderers on the Playa. Interestingly, he lets it ride for about 5 minutes before he pulls in a markedly different track at 54:45: Super Vatos by Rebolledo featuring the idiosyncratic Matias Aguayo. The track is defined by a strict beat that rings with a chopped tambourine, and synth note that expands and constricts like hyperventilating computer lungs. It opens with the chant, “Violence. Focus. Control,” which places the emotional content in a darker, more focused realm than its predecessor in the set. This two-track movement at the halfway point is elegant juxtaposition as it brings the crowd up into the euphoric wonder of Burning Man, before they descend into the intense and shrouded corners of artistic realization.

Paulor brings a musicality to his sets that staves off the monotony that tends to creep up on four-on-the-floor DJ’s. With it, he seems to provide precisely the sounds you want to encounter roaming the playa: something to wrap your dosed nervous system in warm, round bass, and tantalize your imagination with sonic cascades of high-emotion. Psychedelic and sexy, what more could you want?

I had my Shazam purring for this one. The cuts may not have been from the very back of the bin, but the right ones came at the right time, which is the best thing a DJ can do.