★★★★★

 

Brooklyn-based songwriter Gabriel Garzón-Montano has created an album that is truly weird, often dark and very, very affecting.

There’s a sense of absolute conviction within its surgical editing: there are no uncertain musical choices or production ambivalence. Garzón-Montano has given himself no quarter to hide. Each note is absolute and the composition is truly amazing. 

 

Jardín shouldn’t work. It’s so minimalist and slick it outstrips everything close to it. It’s almost too much itself: too precise, too stripped-back. Jardín’s bones lie exposed, flayed clean and desolate to the listener. 

 

The album starts off with ‘Trial’, a short, ethereally mournful piece. Garzón-Montano’s lyricism is probably at its most honest and reflective here, and it’s one of the album’s most instrumentally full pieces, featuring a string section. We move on to the well-known ‘Sour Mango’ and back to Montano’s more mainstream songwriting decisions. 

 

The minimalist approach connects songs that should otherwise sound very disparate. The bright little piano trills and sleigh bells of ‘Fruitflies’should have no business next to the soul club tango feel of ‘The Game’, but with nothing but simple synth lines, drums and vocals, it somehow comes together.

 

The songwriting chops are without question here, but it’s the musical symbioses of Garzón-Montano and producer Henry Hirsch’s clean-cut mastering that really set Jardín apart.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s Jardín is out now via Stones Throw/Inertia.

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