Adan Gonzalez is the brainchild behind The Empty Orchestras, a collective of friends that create atmospheric ethereal ambience with guitars that illuminate the lead vocals. The three songs of For Old Souls In a Young Universe decide to omit drums all together which in this case sounds perfectly fine because the songs are pretty full as they are. The guitars on the album are covered in an ample amount of reverb while the bass for the most part creates a bottom end for the songs to lay on. Gonzalez has an interesting original voice that complements the music rather well with repeated listens. My first impression was that his voice might be too raspy but I started to grow accustomed to his tone over repeated listens. It should be noted the Gonzalez only has vocal duties on "Young Universe" while Kevin Whipps sings on "Persephone" and "Sunday". The production on the album is fair but excellent for the conditions it was recorded in. Gonzalez recorded the whole album on an iPad in his house.
The guitars and vocals sound pretty good except for the occasional digital distortion but the bass recordings could have been improved on a number of songs. Besides the minor issues with production the songs are ethereal guitar landscapes that have well-written often catchy songs behind them. “Young Universe” is the opener that treats us to the ringing out of guitars chords as some technically impressive yet creative lead work is displayed. The guitars had good contrasting tones that eventually evolve into more standard chord changes letting the central melody of the song come into fruition. We are introduced to Gonzalez’s vocals around the 2-minute mark, which tracks the transition of the music from a loose ambient piece to a more substantial song.
“Persephone” has no ramp-up time as the bass, vocals and bass start the song off together. There is a lot of intricate guitar work on this track that was either picked delicately or at other times a single string would get shredded with 16th notes. The shortest and best song on the album was the closer “Sunday.” The addition of soft crystalized bells and background vocal harmonies added to the cloudy ambience they were going for. As the song progresses, the energy picks up and starts to feel more like a traditional acoustic pop song. The vocal melody on this song is most memorable and ends on a high note. Overall, this short EP displays some solid songs and ideas that, while they aren’t perfect, show some well thought out compositions. I’m looking to forward to how these guys progress and hope to hear a full length soon.
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