Gabriel Garzón-Montano – Jardín - 2017 Downtempo Hip Hop Neo Soul 180 Grm LP
Gabriel Garzón-Montano – Jardín
Stones Throw Records – STH2381LP
Vinyl, LP, Album
27 Jan 2017
Electronic, Funk / Soul
Neo Soul, Contemporary R&B
A2 Sour Mango
A4 The Game
A5 Long Ears
B2 Bombo Fabrika
B4 My Balloon
Additional Engineering – Arun Pandian (tracks: A2, A5, B2)
Artwork, Design, Photography – Santiago Carasquilla
Artwork, Photography – Joe Hollier
Backing Vocals – Luna Garzon-Montano (tracks: B2)
Drums – David Frazier, Jr (tracks: A4, B1)
Guitar, Effects – Alex Frenkel (tracks: B2, B4)
Mastered By – Heba Kadry
Producer, Arranged By, Composed By, Keyboards, Piano, Drums, Drum Programming, Guitar, Organ, Handclaps, Vocals, Percussion, Bass, Mixed By, Artwork – Gabriel Garzón-Montano
Recorded By, Mixed By – Henry Hirsch
String Arrangement – Patrick Higgins (2)
Strings – Joshua Mooney (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B3), Mariel Roberts (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B3), Megan Atchley (tracks: A1, A2, B2, B3)
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( pitchfork) "
His poised, adamantly musical major-label debut, Jardín, should banish those concerns. Montano settles on an unusual and fertile combination of sounds, knitting together the burnished, languorous acts of the late ’60s and early ’70s—the Association, Todd Rundgren—with lean, hair-trigger grooves. The result is heavy on pearly funk and pop, live instrumentation and harmony. But Montano mostly avoids sounding like a tasteful throwback, pulling off his merger with zippy grace, in the manner of a prime Pharrellproduction.
Like Pharrell, Montano has an everyman voice that he's adept at rescuing with exquisitely layered arrangements. But this is not immediately apparent on Jardín: early on, Montano seems intent on showcasing his lone voice in multiple settings—a slice of buzzing hip-hop soul, and then a pivot into piano balladry. The record blooms on “The Game,” the fourth track, which is filled with wonderfully multi-tracked iterations of Montano, each intoxicated on melody. Behind the lead vocal, he sings both a descending, calligraphic line and an unfussy alternative that moves with the beamed focus of a weary sigh. Just as these threaten to bottom out, he adds an onomatopoeic two-note interjection that climbs upward, like the small, immensely gratifying plop that rises after you toss a pebble into a pond.
Similarly heaped vocal passages, teeming with good ideas, are everywhere on the second half of Jardín. Montano especially enjoys contrasting blocky, beeline melodies from A to B with more scenic paths, as if to gently chide ruthless, shortest-route-best-route songwriters. (Montano wrote or co-wrote every song here, played almost every lick, and served as his own producer.) "Long Ears" includes held notes that move with the easily identifiable logic of a staircase as well as loopy, horn-like vocal sequences, jumpy collations of lunging jabs and luxurious glides. It's like someone overlaid a men's choir doing simple warm-ups on top of the backing vocals from D’Angelo’s “Send It On.”
That suggests a dangerous level of self-seriousness, but Jardín stays light on its feet, serving up these vocal feasts with nifty, shifting rhythmic beds: odd click-boom combinations, agitated, slap-happy pitter patter, studio-ace, Bee Gees-level punch. On “My Balloon,” Montano even designs something that could catch the ear of an adventurous radio programmer, soldering a thick synth whirl and light drum programming onto a pop-funk lattice. It’s detail-rich, but the curlicues can't hide the hook's brick-through-a-window bid for your attention.
Refreshingly, there are no whiffs of Drake-indebted R&B here, none of the mixture of hard-bitten programming and bathetic singing that permeates the airwaves and continues to entrance many young singers. This divergence is not necessarily surprising—after all, “Jungle” was an outlier even within the confines of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Montano's presence on the track helped create a resoundingly ambivalent moment on an album otherwise characterized by chest-thumping standoffishness.
Still, Montano's album marks him as part of a current of rising singers pointedly and successfully ignoring the latest wave of hip-hop/R&B hodgepodge. This varied group includes Guordan Banks, who landed a No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart in 2016, Yuna, whose album Chapters spawned a pair of radio hits, and KING, who recently earned a Grammy nomination for last year’s We Are KING. Montano has been tactful about his tenuous connection with Drake in interviews, but Jardín represents a soft rebuke to the star—as well as a rich, buffed debut from an adept young artist.
|Format||LP, 180 Gram|