Garnica: Fool Again
Galaktika Records

Rafael Garnica has established reputation as a DJ, radio host, and music producer, but his first love remains drumming: he broke into the music business as a drummer touring with bands and today helms the drum chair in the Pulshar band on Desolat and the rock outfit GALGO. It makes sense, then, that his debut album Fool Again would have a pronounced percussion focus, but it's also far more than a simple collection of beat-based jams. Using samples lifted from vinyl releases from the '70s, '80s and '90s, Garnica has crafted a refreshingly concise, forty-three-minute set of material that oozes a soulful and oft-nostalgic vibe.

And the operative word is definitely craft, as Fool Again repeatedly impresses for the craft of its ten productions, with Garnica showing no small amount of taste in his shaping of the material. One hears clearly how well he arranges sampled elements into a coherent whole in a track such as “Put Your Hands,” where orchestral strings and keyboard and percussion accents form a lush backdrop to the titular vocal riff. It's also virtually impossible to know whether what one is hearing is Garnica's own playing or a sample—even if one presumes that the chunky synth smears draped across a cut such as “Getting” are Garnica's own contributions (it's also hardly likely that the old bluesman's drawl heard in “D.B.” is Garnica).

Fool Again starts strongly with “No Regrets,” a midtempo electro-sparkler sprinkled with vibrant synths and goosed by claps and an infectious, bass-prodded groove. The tracks that follow pointedly contrast with one another: simple acoustic piano melodies boost the quietly soulful languor of “I Don't Care About Winning, I Care About Playing”; vibes and Paulo Orlarte's vocalizing give the bump of “Oh Korea” a distinctive edge; and sweetly floating sounds of “Interlude” suggest a ‘60s Easy Listening vignette. Warm, melodic, and soulful are the keywords here, and none of them are objectionable when applied to the kind of serenading jams Garnica features on the album.

April 2013