An eachoing stadium clap. Silence. Then, nonchalant vocals break the tension: “Rock me real slowly.” Silence. So begins Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s track 6 8, on his debut EP, Bishouné: Alma Del Huila. Recorded to two-inch tape and recorded in a former church, the EP, like its native Brooklyn-born-and-bred author, is New York noir at its core.
Garzón-Montano has previously played significantly more cheerful tunes with the NYC big band EMEFE and funk outfit Mokaad, which he founded while enrolled in SUNY Purchase’s music program. Both bands played at FELA x CMJ: A Celebration Of Fela’s Spirit And Music in 2012. Yet as a solo artist, his tune has changed from gleeful party music to an emotional, yet still funky, soul swerve.
Where 6 8 evokes kissing in a streetlamp-lit alley after jazz club closing time, the lush soul of Everything Is Everything,— note the pronunciation of thang (rhymes with “rain”)—emphasizes his caution-to-the-wind retro cool. That track, along with the smooth hustle, Keep Running, are chill R&B that, especially given the silky cadence of his high-pitched vocals, would do The Purple One proud. No, not Barney.
Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s minimalist appeal to the heavens of funk are very Dilla-esque. Yet unlike the the Detroit stalwart, Garzón-Montano is a multi-instrumentalist (violinist, guitarist, bassist drummer and pianist) who keeps the process organic. Within a scant 30-minute EP, this promising young artist touches on love and loss, and always buttressed with a sly bit of vintage style.