Ernest Gonzales: Been Meaning to Tell You
FoF Music

Kind of funny, isn't it. Whereas Ernest Gonzales's Exponential label often issues instrumental hip-hop of one kind of another, his second full-length often plays like an affectionate homage to New Wave and ‘80s electro-pop (in actual fact, the album's designed to be a love letter to his wife, Devyn, that expresses all of the words, thoughts, and emotions he feels for her). The disc's thirteen high-energy cuts overflow with day-glo synths, fulminating breakbeats, and lead guitar and bass melodies that intertwine like some New Order tribute band. It's rambunctious, high-spirited, and fun, and feels rather old-school in its production approach with Gonzales's careful layering of instruments doing its best to approximate a live band feel. The San Antonio, Texas-based music producer's trump card is melody, as pretty much every one of the tracks distinguishes itself on such grounds first and foremost, with candy-coloured arrangements following close behind.

Many of the songs are three-minute jewels teeming with joyous synth and guitar weaves (such as the opener, “Dancing in the Snow,” with its pretty pealing guitar and glockenspiel melodies, beat-boxing, and breakbeat skitter), and lovely tunes abound (e.g., “Upon the 49th Day”), whether they be uptempo (“Opening a Lost Sacred Door,” where the loose slam of a garage band marches assertively through said door) or trippy (“Psychedelic Bellhop,” where 8-bit melodies jitter before the six-string explosion sets in). A marriage of jubilation and melancholy, “Falling Asleep to the Glow of the Television” rides arcade melodies and glistening guitar shadings over a hiccupping wave of hyperactive drumming. Three minutes of shoegaze-dreampop swoon, “We Can Live in the Forest” rides a front line of New Order bass lines and chiming guitar melodies. Note as well that the jam-packed release includes the album itself plus two supplements: a sixteen-track remix album (featuring contributions by Aether, CYNE, Daedelus, Mexicans with Guns, Pollination, Take, and others) and a full-colour digital art book (available in digital and physical form) that includes notes by Gonzales about each song as well as illustrations by international artists.

February 2010