This Tuesday, May 16, Gabriel Garzon-Montano is performing at The Crocodile in Belltown. Gabriel Garzon-Montano’s Jardin, released early this year, intricately melds together notes of soul, pop, hip-hop, and funk, ultimately creating a vibrant sound owned solely by him. Hailing originally from Brooklyn, Garzon-Montano’s interest in music was sparked in childhood by his mother, a musician in the Philip Glass Ensemble during the ‘90s. Though most commonly recognized as the creator of the sample featured in Drake’s Jungle (check out his original Six Eight), Garzon-Montano is so much more than that. Weaving together bright funk notes and unlikely time signatures, Garzon-Montano’s Jardin is a powerful collection of music that insights both introspection and pure dancing fun and will undoubtedly be a memorable experience live.
In 2014, someone needed music for a guacamole pool party. It was out of this need that electro-funk dance duo CAPYAC was born. Formed by Delwin Campbell and Eric Peana, CAPYAC’s self-dubbed “balloonwave” sound fits right in with the nu-disco genre, incorporating elements of soul, funk, and utter surreality. The Austin-based group is known in their local music scene for over-the-top performances focused on getting people to move. Last year, they released their debut album Headlunge. Popular single “Speedracer” was the highlight, featuring dreamy-sounding vocals over a groovy beat.
This year, CAPYAC has already dropped a new EP. Titled Fis, the project consists of four mostly instrumental tracks, incorporating the same funk and electronic influences as Headlunge. My verdict? Meh. While an admirable extension of CAPYAC’s take on French house, Fis did not leave me feeling nearly as impressed as I had hoped to be. The EP began with the 9-minute “No”. It’s decently funky and smooth, but it began to feel repetitive about halfway through. “Bubblegum” fared a little better, introducing energetic female vocals as a contrast to the mellower sounds of “No”. Fis found redemption in its fourth and final song. “Comfort Zone” fades in with CAPYAC’s usual electronic beats before throwing in a sweet (and slightly erratic) saxophone solo. It was a nice surprise, providing a glimpse of the eccentricity I would imagine CAPYAC to embrace in their shows.
All of the above being said, don’t let my words deter you from supporting this band. Their live performances seem like a blast, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you listen to “Speedracer”.
Funk has lost a legend. Last week, Junie Morrison passed away at the age of 62.
A founding member of Ohio Players and later the musical director for Parliament-Funkadelic, Morrison was a pivotal force behind both 70s funk and modern hip hop movements. Artists like A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, De La Soul, and The Roots have all sampled his work. “He was very appreciated,” wrote Solange. “He was the ‘Super Spirit’ indeed.” (You can read Solange’s full post here. Her 2015 song “Junie” was inspired by the late musician.)
Morrison’s mark on music is clear. His contributions on Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” helped drive both bands toward later successes. In the heavily-sampled “Funky Worm”, Morrison performs his famous Granny voice and worm synth. The storyline, a conversation between Granny and Clarence, is two and a half minutes of disgusting funk and humorous strangeness. It’s so rad.
In addition to his 80s work with P-Funk, Morrison also produced multiple solo albums under several aliases. He continued to write and perform into the 2000s with his own record label, Juniefunk. In 1997, Junie Morrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of P-Funk.
Rest in peace, Junie. We’re grooving for you.
“What I mean to say is that the essence of the funk has always had a tendency to speak of bringing people together.”
PSA for all you dance and disco lovers: last month, Tuxedo quietly released new EP Fux with the Tux. The sharply-dressed duo of soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and Seattle hip hop producer Jake One seems to be riding the wave of 70s/80s revival in pop music. Many artists like Daft Punk and Bruno Marks have struck a balance between retro and fresh, and I think you’ll find that Tuxedo also fits into this category quite nicely. As with many throwback artists, Tuxedo’s long list of influences includes artists like Chic and Cameo, in addition to boogie, hip hop, and electronic music.
Fux with the Tux packs plenty of funk in only 10 minutes. The EP kicks off with its title track, jumping straight into a catchy beat and groovy synths. This song plays off of vocals from both Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. Although a bit repetitive, it’s still a well-done cross between old-school funk and newer hip hop.
“Special” rolls in with more prominent percussion than the previous track. I love the bass in this song, and the vocal harmonies are a great highlight. If you liked Bruno Mars’ “Chunky", you’ll like this one. (I would also make the claim that “Special” is perhaps a classier(?) take on Mars’ message in “Chunky”.)
In its final song, the EP winds down with smooth slow jam “July”. The horns in the chorus are a great touch, and the background female vocals nicely accent Mayer Hawthorne’s crooning words.
Tuxedo is expected to release a full-length album later this year. Keep an eye out.
You might not know his name, but it is likely that you will recognize Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s voice. Garzón-Montano was pulled into the spotlight after Drake sampled his track “6 8". But he is determined not to let that define him. “I don’t want to be that guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’,” he said, “I don’t want that to give me my value”.
I think those concerns have been effectively erased with the release of his full-length debut Jardín. As the primary vocalist, instrumentalist, and composer for Jardín, there is no doubt left about this man’s talent.
Music became part of Garzón-Montano’s life from an early age. Gaining the foundations of classical training from his mother, he learned violin as a child before moving on to guitar, drums, bass, and piano. His resulting musical career has incorporated his experiences with urban electronic and hip-hop, as well as influences from his French-Colombian heritage.
It’s actually quite a feat to locate Garzón-Montano’s sound on the wide map of his influences. I would place it somewhere between chill funk and neo-soul, balanced with a touch of psychedelia and a hard penchant for groove. On Jardín, this has culminated in a luxurious ode to life, beauty, and romance. The layered vocals and lush instrumentals across each track are irresistible.
Opening with “Trial”, Jardín eases the listener in with soft harmonies laid across a restrained string performance. The next few tracks build up to soulful vocals from Garzón-Montano, punctuated by the funky rhythms of “The Game” and “Crawl”. From this point onward, Jardín somehow feels like its own microcosm. It’s minimalistic at times, yet eerily moody in a world that seems very much separate from ours. Garzón-Montano is quite aware of this. He closes the album with the gentle, soothing melody of “Lullaby”, perhaps as if to delicately deposit the listener back into reality.
I’m very impressed with this release. The intricacies and details in Jardín seem to indicate that we can expect more great things from Garzón-Montano. He is certainly surpassing his time in the spotlight as “the guy that got sampled on ‘Jungle’”. He is making his own name for himself, and I look forward to what he will bring us in the future, perhaps with a bit more polish if nothing else.