Sunday Sounds: Jose Gonzalez

I listen to a lot of electronic-based music, or EDM.  It’s dominated my listening habits for about three years now.  I still listen to more traditional four- and five-piece indie/pop/rock records, but those are now peppered in from time to time.

For a lot of people, there’s a large disconnect in what I’ll call “humanity” in EDM.  Take folk music for example, which may well be the pinnacle of “humanity” in music.  It’s people with instruments that, for the most part, require nothing but skill.  They don’t even need electricity; they can play music anywhere.  An acoustic guitar can be comforting and intimate, even if you’re watching the performance with a few hundred or thousand other people.  Maybe it’s the acoustic element of it, something that feels more like a natural extension than synthesized, digital representations present in EDM.

Perhaps that’s what’s drawn me in to the realm of EDM, a search for the humanity I’ve easily found in other genres.  Sure, there are legitimate, heartfelt uses of analog instruments like acoustic guitars in some EDM, however it’s usually a piano from a program and not an actual instrument that’s been recorded.  Even without the familiar markers, humanity is alive and well in EDM, and the more you listen to it the easier it gets to recognize and connect with.

Even so, you need a break from time to time.  You need the familiarity of the instruments you grew up listening to.  This happens a lot on Sundays.  I play the Beatles, old Bob Dylan, Iron & Wind and Jose Gonzalez.

I know what you’re thinking: Which Spanish-speaking country is this guy from?  Think again: Jose Gonzalez is a citizen of Sweden.  But his parents were from Argentina.

Gonzalez’s voice is soft and subdued, a perfect match for the beautiful melodies he creates with his guitar.  He is also very accomplished in covers.  His rendition of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ imprints his own style onto the song while leaving the basic pieces and melodies of the song intact and well-represented.  He even lent the song to a project sponsored by Sony, and the video for it is too beautiful for words.  He also reworks Massive Attack’s Teardrop into an altogether different product, somehow maintaining the haunting, brooding beat and tone.

When I am overwhelmed by electronic beats, synthesizers and highly-effected everything of EDM, Jose Gonzalez is the humanity I need to find my center, where I can gather myself and work my way out through the week.

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