Bittersweet and melancholic, Ft. Lauderdale’s Armando Zamora has released his first album The Reichstag Fire which is just five tracks long. For the most part I would say he’s off to a decent start with his alternative gloom and doom. He uses a low-fuss, acoustic aesthetic to create music that sort of glides over you. It manages to engulf the listener, let’s just hope the listener is in the mood to be engulfed by the gray haze that he creates.
Zamora has a voice that seems to come directly out of the grunge era. It’s dark and brooding but also soulful. He pours out his contemplative lyrics on the tracks effortlessly and it’s lovely. Zamora was a jazz guitarist in his formative years and I can tell he has packed a little of that in his bag of tricks. I love what he does with the guitar; it’s a nice, delicate touch to the heavy mood of the music.
The track that really showcases what he’s capable of happens to be the first on the album called “Guiding Wind.” He was wise to open with this one; it has the perfect ratio of hopelessness and hopefulness. Unfortunately, the title track, “Reichstag Fire” wasn't as pleasing. It took me some time to pinpoint what the issue was. I finally understood that I was missing contrast. The song is all weight and nothing to lift it up. Tracks three and five were interesting but struggled to really pop for me. There was also track four “Only Our Home” which was anchored with a spoken word performance. There was a disconnect between the speaker and the music that didn't quite meld.
One of the things Zamora had going for him was the audio production. Considering he himself is a bit on the dusty, fuzzy side of the musical spectrum, it was a learned decision that his sound be mastered cleanly. There was a crispness, especially when it came to his guitar which was vital. Meanwhile they let his voice be foggy and this contradiction really jived for me.
Overall my issue with the album is lack of contrast. I felt like I needed a lifejacket. I needed air, the fog just got too thick and something needed to break it up. I needed the songs to stand out more as individuals. This is a short release, which is absolutely fine, and can be a smart choice for your debut. However, when you’re doing your first release and you’re introducing yourself to the world, I feel you have to spend each track wisely. I would nix the spoken word track and use that valuable time on a song to further demonstrate what you could do musically.
Zamora has the tools to make interesting and engaging music. I could hear that with “Guiding Wind” so I know it’s there. He has a wonderful voice and solid guitar skills. It could just be a matter of him getting out of his comfort zone and taking more risks. I wish him luck, I can say with confidence that I am curious to hear more in the future.
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