“Bombo Fabrika,” the third single off Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s debut album Jardín, is a blend of his varied musical influences that evades easy comparisons.
It’s not a stretch to say that Gabriel Garzón-Montano was exposed to music from birth – his mother was a musician in the Phillip Glass Ensemble who encouraged the Brooklyn based singer-songwriter to pick up multiple instruments from a young age. Aside from his early training in classical music, it’s clear that Garzón-Montano’s French-Colombian heritage informs much of his music as well. Drawing from a plethora of influences such as funk, classical avant-garde, and cumbia, Garzón-Montano’s sound is a distillation of these varied influences that evades easy comparisons.
Something in the wind – tastes so sweet
Time to eat again – a peach bite melody
Mama made it rain – milk and blood
So the funk is on ten – never mind enough
“Bombo Fabrika” – Gabriel Garzón-Montano
With the release of his first EP Bishounè: Alma Del Huila in 2014, Garzón-Montano landed a spot opening for Lenny Kravitz on tour, and his track “Six Eight” caught the attention of Drake, who sampled it for his song “Jungle” off his If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape. Garzón-Montano’s debut album Jardínarrived in January 2017, and it is further proof that he is here to stay.
I glow for you
I’m in the silo
I glow for you
I’m in the silo
Oh my god – Prophecy upon the bones
We gets up like trampolines – Bombo Fabrika on a roll
Get down gently – Gently down the stream as I row
Eyes blink open and I see all my little thoughts in a row
Whereas his EP was more straightforward soul and R&B, Jardín feels like a progression upon Garzón-Montano’s sound. The album is a labor of love three years in the making, painstakingly recorded on two-inch tape, with Garzón-Montano playing most of the instruments. The title Jardín perfectly encapsulates the feel of the album, a kaleidoscopic riot of color. With song titles like “Sour Mango” and “Fruitflies,” it’s hard not conjure up images of sunshine and orchards of ripe fruit when listening to the album.
Of the three singles released from the album so far, “Bombo Fabrika” is perhaps the one that stands out the most for its distinctive individuality; it’s so far removed from formulaic, cut-and-paste chart-toppers flooding the airwaves. The instrumentation feels incandescent, replete with strings, a celesta, and handclaps. The song starts off sparse with Garzón-Montano singing over synths and a skittering beat, but the track builds and builds, sneaking up on the listener and ensnaring you in its intricate layers of instrumentation and harmonies. The synths lend a slightly disconcerting tinge to “Bombo Fabrika,” and when juxtaposed with the lilting celesta, impart a dialectic tension to the song, as if the track is at once both familiar and also keeping you at arm’s length.
Adding to the tension of the instrumentation, the lyrics themselves are veiled in imagery vaguely reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” It’s difficult to parse the true meaning behind some of the lyrics of “Bombo Fabrika,” but every line is a vivid picture: purple clouds and peach bites, trampolines and silos. Garzón-Montano repeatedly references plants and fruit throughout the album in an almost synesthetic fashion, as if these fruits and colors were oblique metaphors for emotions not easily discussed. However, in the description box below the music video for the track, Garzón-Montano writes that “’Bombo Fabrika’ is about the place I go to when I write music. The music is not mine, it flows through me from a source much older and wiser than my body.”
Directed by Santiago Carrasquilla, the accompanying music video was shot in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, where some styles of cumbia music originate. Scenes of children dancing and men riding horses are interspersed with Garzón-Montano dancing in fields and streams, and the video draws to a close with Garzón-Montano performing at a party at night. The visuals truly enhance the track, allowing the viewer to steep themselves in a different world for five minutes and learn about another culture. In the current political climate, it is more important than ever to expose ourselves to art that crosses borders and engenders open-mindedness. All in all, this cultural cross pollination is but one reason why Garzón-Montano’s music is so electrifying. Here’s hoping that his next release arrives sooner rather than later.
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photo © Santiago Carrasquilla