by: Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano sat on his first solo recordings, deeply dissatisfied, for months. A whirlwind phase followed his reluctant SoundCloud upload of those tracks. The material, titled Bishouné, was released as an EP by the Styles Upon Styles label. Lenny Kravitz and Mayer Hawthorne subsequently called upon Garzón-Montano to open for them on separate tours. Additionally, Drake was so taken with the EP's "Six Eight" that the song became the basis of "Jungle," which brought the Brooklynite -- a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer -- to a new audience. Emboldened by a deal with Stones Throw and eager to evade categorization as a sample source for a mainstream pop star, Garzón-Montano moves forward on the fully developed Jardín. Made with longtime recording partner Harry Hirsch, the set advances his progressive, often breezy, slightly psychedelic sound rooted in soul and funk. Its dazed yet wide-eyed effect -- generated with loose yet intricately layered organic and synthetic instrumentation, plus what must be a percussion workshop's worth of gear -- is not unlike that of Robin Hannibal and Philip Owusu's works with and without one another. Like Owusu, Garzón-Montano sings with a kind of sweetened rasp and occasionally sounds like he's wincing, facing direct sunlight. If the album lacked its several (mostly) metaphorical fruit references, and didn't involve some fleeting feelings of longing, uncertainty, and weariness, most of these songs would still evoke a beatific summer day spent frolicking and lazing in a rich garden. The fun peaks on the bobbing "Crawl," in which Garzón-Montano is proud to proclaim "I act a damn fool/Baby when you crawl around on me." Just behind it is "Bombo Fabrika," which twitches and flutters like an elegant mid-'90s Timbaland production dipped in freaky MPB. Terra firma is left only on the affectionate space chase "My Balloon," one of several kaleidoscopic moments on this inviting album. The sky could be the limit. ~ Andy Kellman

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