Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Spotty Electronica with some great moments from Ernest Gonzales

On the Exponential Records website, Ernest Gonzales tells us that growing up in Texas as the only child of an electrician and a Home Depot customer service rep, he spent his childhood on video games, drawing trees, making bow and arrows, too much MTV, and pizza pockets. While he was in school, he used extra scholarship money to buy his first drum machine, and since then has been developing his talents creating electronic music.

Ernest Gonzales Self Awakening

It feels like a full band could turn a disc with some great ideas into a great disc.

Ernest Gonzales already has eight releases under his belt, but I must confess I have never heard any of them. His ninth release is a seven-track EP entitled “Self Awakening.” I was a bit worried when the disc began, because the first track, ‘Self Awakening,’ was only mildly interesting. Clean guitar picks out a simple melody with a steady programmed beat and a plodding bass line. The song undergoes no crescendos and no additional melodic lines are introduced after the first minute. It’s a pleasant enough song, but not very engaging.

Then I saw the second track is called ‘Self Awakening (Faunts Remix)‘ and I began to see some of the interest. The same basic idea is in there, but this song sounds very different. The beat is more Rock-oriented. The clean guitar is accompanied this time by stomping fuzzy bass and some keyboards. The song moves through several passages, becoming large and driving before it dwindles back to where it started.

Self Awakening (Take Cover)’ is so different it is barely identifiable as the same song. Between the techno percussion, synthesized sound effects, and disjointed vocal samples, all that remains is the chord progression. The other versions were electronic, but this one is Electronica. The first three tracks on ‘Self Awakening’ are an interesting study in theme and variation.

The fourth track, ‘Upon the 19th Day (Cyne Cover),’ features quiet keyboards, synthetic cello, and echoing percussion and reminds me of French New Age musician Jean Michel Jarre, except it is the backdrop for a rap. This track didn’t do much for me because the rhythm of the rap never changes and each line rhymes once at the end. Neither the music nor the lyrics nor the vocal performance are strong enough to really carry a song.

The next track, ‘We Can Live in the Forest,’ has several lines of plucked bass and guitar backed by unwavering electronic percussion. This track needs more but I’m not sure what it needs more of. Ideas, I guess. It is thin and repetitive. Listen to the Amazon sample and you’ve heard the whole song. ‘I’m Here You’re There (Mexicans with Guns Remix)’ is straight up Electronica, possibly aspiring to Rave music. The disc is rounded out with ‘Etchasketch Trees (Yppah Remix),’ a danceable song with dreamy keyboards and wailing guitar in the background.

The second and third ‘Self Awakening’ and ‘Etchasketch Trees’ have some interesting moments, but overall ‘Self Awakening’ suffers from a lack of complexity. The melodies are simple, the production and effects are often gimmicky and derivative, and the arrangements don’t shake things up enough. There are some good ideas in this music, but it felt like it needed either more time being refined and fleshed out or the input of more musicians to add depth and texture.

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November 11, 2009 - Posted by | Chillout, Electronica, Hip Hop

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