Over the past couple of years of this site’s seven year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, with his work drawing from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul, hip-hop and the wildly adventurous multiculturalism most familiar to native New Yorkers and New Yorkers. Along with that, Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned that his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail.
Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate, JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.
Jardín was recorded withGarzón-Montano’s mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally, our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.
Of course, unsurprisingly, I’ve written about several singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are; and “Sour Mango,” a slow-burning and soulful track, which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths, but underneath the surface, there’s an visceral ache over a love that seems completely unlikely.
The album’s latest single “Bombo Fabrinka” features a lush and soulful production consisting of shuffling boom-bap-like beats, twinkling keys, and layers of Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals — and while building upon the overall sound of the album, the song reveals an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, who has an uncanny talent for writing a sharp, infectious hook paired with introspective lyrics, based on deeply personal and revealing experiences with love and loss; but interestingly enough as Garzón-Montano explains “‘Bombo Fabrika’ is about the place I go to when I write music. The music is not mine, it flows through me from a source much older and wiser than my body.”
Directed and filmed by Santiago Carrasquilla in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, the recently released music video for “Bombo Fabrinka” is a revealing and cinematically shot glimpse into the day-to-day life of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. And although, the people of the village may be poor, they express a pure joie de vivre that’s absolutely infectious. Garzón-Montano says of the video “Palenque is a magical place — people blasting music and playing drums and singing everywhere — expressing more joy than I’ve seen or felt in my whole life. . . Palenque is famous for originating some styles of Cumbia music. Filming this video in such an energetically potent musical birthplace was an incredible and humbling experience.”