Perhaps it might be considered a bit unfair of me to review this album, given that I have little to no experience with ambient, and electronic music like that of Gentoo, but music is indeed a universal process, and so I shall endeavour to review it all the same.
Gentoo is the baby of Texas artist Damon Kelly. His seventh, and latest album ‘Structures‘ will be dropping on January 20th, though the full album is currently available for sharing and downloading on Sound Cloud. To get a sense of the quality of Gentoo, do check out the mind-clearing song, and accompanying video for ‘I Still Dream Of You‘, from his EP Light.
Now with regards to electronic music, too much synth has always seemed to take away from the true quality of music. If one were to take the same notes, and similar dynamics (such as could be translated back to real instruments), and play them with an actual instrument, as opposed to a virtual one, I’m willing to bet that the real instrument would come out on top. That being said, Kelly has combined the two to create a truly unique sound. The use of real bass, guitar, and sometimes drums, is a relief amid the sequenced remainder of the album.
There are equal parts epic, creepy, and calming in this album, though the epic side of things never truly resolves to become as huge as the listener may expect or want it to. Such constantly building tracks like the album’s opening ‘This Is As Far As We Go‘, can be very effective, driving the listener to continue through in the vain hope of either a swell, or a sweet resolution at the end. Nine Inch Nails is probably the best at such tactics (though to be fair, they typically do have some sort of resolve by the end).
Some of the track titles do leave me wondering quite a bit. The opening track seems to suggest one should go no farther, but then it is followed by ‘Listen’ which one will discover is nearly the exact same beat for four and a half minutes. The song ‘Strings’ seems to be false advertising, but is perhaps saved by the heavily featured bass (the only stringed instrument in the entire tune). ‘Libra’ Is perhaps the best tune on the album for its eighties-sounding guitar picking through the background of the track, and its general feel-good, upbeat quality. It’s thankfully not too repetitive as to be rendered boring or annoying, and it does genuinely fill the listener with a sense of positivity.
Overall, if one is looking for some synthetic, ambient music with a healthy flavouring of analog instruments, then checking out ‘Structures‘ is the thing to do. One can very easily find their way into a zone that may not be out of body, but certainly out of mind. The repetition of the album does help to clear one’s thoughts (though some might think all too well), and there are some truly interesting musical pairings within the tracks.