credit: Matthew Scott
On his debut LP, Jardín, Gabriel Garzón-Montano sings of the struggles and uncertainties of the many-layered game that is America today, from the specific doubt and double consciousness of the first-generation hustle, to the universal challenges of love, legacy, and exploring the maze of one's own mind. A child of immigrant parents - a child of Brooklyn, NY - Garzón-Montano’s aesthetic is an extension of his French-Colombian heritage, a pastiche of Bach sonatas, cumbia records, and the machine gun funk that echoes to this day from behind half-rolled tints up and down Nostrand Ave. His mother, a member of the Philip Glass ensemble in the 1990’s, instilled within him a painstaking attention to detail that remains a hallmark of his process. “My mother is the reason I love music,” he says. Her rigorous classical instruction served as his creative engine as he honed his skills over the course of years in the lab, copping Stevie's changes, studying Prince's lyrics, and absorbing the beat theses of Timbaland, Dilla, and Pete Rock.
Jardín comes on the heels of three intense years of touring, writing and recording. Soon after the 2014 release of his debut EP, Bishouné: Alma del Huila, Gabriel was invited out on the road by rock legend Lenny Kravitz, as direct support on 23 concerts across Europe. The day after playing Wembley Arena, he received a call notifying him that his song "6 8" would be sampled by Drake on his full-length If You're Reading This, It's Too Late. The months following these cosigns Garzón-Montano was featured at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits, and on back-to-back tours with English indie-rockers Glass Animals and Stones Throw label mate Mayer Hawthorne.
In 2016, he returned to Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY, to record Jardín with his mentor, analog guru Henry Hirsch. A capable multi-instrumentalist, Gabriel tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano, and synthesizers direct to 2" tape, adding percussion, digital programming, and several layers of his own vocals to create a lush sonic environment that recalls a contemporary, streetwise Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. "I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is - how delicate their hearts are," says Garzón-Montano. "A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I've always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky." This intention is, perhaps, what has always attracted listeners to his music. Fans of Bishouné will find familiar ground in the organic sounds and impressionist narratives of Jardín: the Moog-heavy "Fruitflies" reads as a lyrical epilogue to "Keep on Running," while "The Game" brings the folkloric percussion of "Me Alone" home from Cartagena to Crown Heights. The enduring choruses of "Sour Mango," "Crawl," and "My Balloon" exhibit a melodic and compositional craftsmanship reminiscent of the fan favorite "Everything is Everything," confirming Garzón-Montano's innate pop sensibilities, and his indisputable knack for fusing a wide range of classic influences and cutting-edge ideas to create a sound all his own.
"Something's growing in the garden."