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March 4th, 2009
Tuesday reviewsday: Three recordings

By SARAH STEVENS
Scene Reporter 

It’s Wednesday and we’re just now on Tuesday Reviewsday. Time flies when you’re having fun. We present here three recordings with local flavor.

A. J. Vincent – EP 

This EP release from A. J. Vincent is a short but sweet, six-track taste of meandering piano tunes set to a catchy and upbeat, but simple accompaniment. The whole thing is over-laid by Vincent’s distinctively strident, and sometimes outright wailing, vocals. His voice calls to mind the unapologetic emotional voices of such Indie minimalist singers as the Wombats‘ Matthew Murphy.

This resemblance is marked in the sound of the vocals in the first track on the EP, “Dulce,” in which Vincent punctuates his original lyrics with melodic piano interludes that wander up and down the keyboard in counterpoint to the pulsing beat.

Vincent’s ivory-tickling skills are represented in each song on this album, and one gets a feel for some of his influences in his song, “When Mozart Meets Mercury.” The last track on the CD, the title pretty much says it all. It opens to a classical piano playing unaccompanied, and is joined by other instruments to build to a crescendo of a more modern style that blends rock and contemporary influences into the traditional piano performance.

Lyrics on Vincent’s EP tend toward the poetic and introspective, in places sacrificing sense and structure to achieve more of a counterpoint effect to the tone and rhythm of the piano. Vincent’s style is almost a mix of Tori Amos and Coldplay, with a more accessible feel and more complex piano work.

With just six tracks, this EP definitely leaves the listener wanting more. For more information on A. J. Vincent, check out his website at www.ajvincent.com.

Ernest Gonzales – Lullaby Re-Release 

Ernest Gonzales’ Lullaby Re-Release delivers exactly what the title implies, an easy to listen to ambient experience with no hard edges or rough handling. Gonzales takes to electronic tones like Aphex Twin, but with a bit more structure and a bit less bite. The opening track, ‘Clouds,’ eases through light tones and a steady down-tempo beat, and sets the tone for the entire album.

Meditating to Gonzales’ Lullaby would be entirely possible. The tracks transition into each other without ever being actually continual. Some songs, like ’Run Jump Seek,’ would fit in on an Orb release from the 90s, and yet Gonzales keeps the sound original and modern. Ambient music is usually not something one actively listens to, yet sitting down with Lullaby lends a sense of peace and focus without being boring or rote.

Some tracks take the beat up a little, and others, like “Post-Modern Flower,” blend the electronic tones with a more basic instrumental sound and coherent melody. Gonzales has painted a portrait in sound with this release, it almost seems to fit more in the category of art than many albums being released locally. The tones are polished and purposeful, and the overall experience leaves a pleasant after-taste of soothing simplicity.

This entire album can be listened to, or purchased in digital format from www.antipop.net, or you can check out Ernest Gonzales at www.myspace.com/theoryofeverything.

Various Artists – Texas (Exponential Records) 

Texas is Exponential Records’ SXSW label sampler that includes 17 songs from local artists. Available online for download from antipop.net, this release includes a plethora of styles and sounds from the self-proclaimed “dirty south.”

The official release date for this album is March 24, but they are not being stingy with the availability of this music. Featuring so many musicians from right here in Texas, this album is a not-to-be-missed representation of local electronic talent. Texas incorporates ambient tracks like Day Of The Woman’s “Cassette Tape,” and “Upon The 49th Day” by Ernest Gonzales with harder dub-step numbers like “Onyx” by Otik Angst. This is not a CD with definite appeal for anyone interested in a musical version of abstract art.

Mnolo and Word Association’s Omari Kamau shake things up a bit with their hip-hop song, “No Sleep,” which manages to keep the overall electronic feel of the album with the digital sound of the tracks underlying the lyrical flow.

Each track on Texas has its own unique style, a representation of the musical diversity throughout the electronic scene right here in the state from which the album gets its title.

Samples and breaks punctuate the entire album, from audio samples of Denzel Washington to jazzy instrumental samples. This album is free, so it’s a no-brainer for listeners looking for a sampling of local electronica.

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