As the school year gets into full swing, I mourn the loss of days I could spend watching Netflix and eating my body weight in Chipotle burritos. As the days get shorter and my time spent in the library gets longer, I hunt for new music to get me through the (recently chillier) September evenings. This is where Gabriel Garzón Montano comes in.
Raised in Brooklyn with a classically trained singer for a mother, Montano began playing the violin at the age of six and continues to play various instruments today. His first and only release, Bishouné: Alma Del Huila, features Montano playing every instrument and writing all of the music for the six tracks. While Montano released the EP and toured alongside Lenny Kravitz in the fall of 2014, his most recent rise to fame occurred when Drake sampled his opening song “Six Eight” in “Jungle” off If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
“Six Eight” opens the EP with its sultry and seductive sound, setting the stage for what Montano hopes to accomplish with the rest of the album. I first heard the song in the closing episode of “Last Chance U” on Netflix, but aside from providing a soundtrack for a crying football team, “Six Eight” is passionate and sexy with slow, heavy beats and claps. The five-minute song boasts only four lines that Montano sings on repeat; “Rock me real slowly / Put a bib on me / I’m just like a baby, drooling over you / The things you do.”
Following “Six Eight” is “Everything is Everything,” a track whose a cappella intro becomes its background accompaniment. It’s hip and clever, using traditional concepts of groove and rhythm to create an untraditional combination of pop and funk. “Naeja” lures listeners with light piano and techno beats, leaving them slightly uneasy when faced with the ominous undertones. The lyrics play into the restlessness of the steady, chorus-less track when Montano croons, “Thought I saw the man / Just my own footsteps in the sand.”
The difficult to understand “Pour Maman” utilizes layered vocals, a tinkling piano and heavy bass to transform into a new rock sound, as Montano murmurs to a missing lover. Closing with the prophetic lyrics, “I’ll never leave you / I’d rather leave you,” “Pour Maman” mourns the loss of a past life. Transitioning quickly to “Keep On Running,” the most piano-heavy song on the EP employs its instruments to mimic its title. With abrupt and hasty strokes to imitate running away from the past, its upbeat sound contrasts with the bleak lyrics, “Won’t ever get away / If you’re living for yesterday / Don’t expect things to change.” It’s simple and epitomizes Montano’s sound through a combination of traditional instruments with modern remixes.
Bishouné: Alma Del Huila closes with “Me Alone,” a soulful and sensuous song that makes good use of a steady drumbeat and electronic voices harmonizing in the background. Its closing lyrics, “Well well what a mighty hard life to lead / All this sunshine is heavy hangin’ over me / I know the grass is greener where the angels be,” speaks to the fear of loneliness and the starvation for touch that comes along with it. At the end of the EP, Gabriel Garzón Montano leaves the listener with both a respect for a doomed past and a renewed sense of hope, looking ahead for better days.