Gabriel Garzón-Montano is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with a progressive, often breezy, and slightly psychedelic sound. Firmly rooted in soul and funk with hip-hop, cumbia, and nueva canción among the many styles that have informed his approach, he has released Bishouné: Alma del Huila (2014), Jardín (2017), and a handful of singles, including "Someone" (2020). The Brooklyn native picked up music through his mother, a musician who was part of the Philip Glass Ensemble during the '90s. The first instrument he learned to play was the violin, followed by guitar and drums. As a young teenager, Garzón-Montano started writing songs. Years later, while attending State University of New York at Purchase, he was in a funk band called Mokaad. The same year that the band independently released an EP entitled Booty, Garzón-Montano recorded a set of solo material with longtime friend and collaborator Henry Hirsch. Deeply unsatisfied with the results, he kept the songs to himself for several months but eventually uploaded them to his SoundCloud page. The Styles Upon Styles label, taken by what they heard, bundled the songs for official multi-format release as Bishouné: Alma del Huila in February 2014. Shortly thereafter, Garzón-Montano's career quickly accelerated. Mayer Hawthorne's chance record store encounter with the EP led to Hawthorne and the musician sharing the same management. Garzón-Montano toured Europe as the opening act for Lenny Kravitz, father of friend and former classmate Zoë Kravitz. The younger Kravitz played Garzón-Montano's music for Drake, whose "Jungle," produced by Noah Shebib, sampled the EP's "6 8." After several festival dates and additional stretches of touring -- including one in support of Hawthorne -- Garzón-Montano and Henry Hirsch completed Jardín. Previewed in late 2016 with the tracks "Sour Mango" and "The Game," the album was issued on Stones Throw in January 2017. Three years later, he returned with "Someone," his first single through a joint arrangement with Jagjaguwar and Stones Throw.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 27, 2017 | Stones Throw Records
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 /TiVo
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