The New York based multi-faceted artist Jack Broza is only 22 years old but he has already taken in plenty of what the world has to offer someone who is willing to take chances. Broza trained as a jazz and classical guitarist and studied contemporary composition at Yale and also studied Afro-Cuban music in Havana. His first foray into solo recording for himself alone is the record Gather, Together. Broza is not alone here on this record which is overflowing with as many players as it is directions in soundscapes.
The opening track “Holler to the Heavens” is a sound collage of human voices which soon focuses on a poem being repeated and then morphs back into a voice collage. I understand the concept though I feel it’s a bit cliché by now, no matter how you slice it. Perhaps it works for some on some sort of higher level.
Next, we get the track “Pieced Together (feat. Ashtan Towles).” The title seems to be a bit of a metaphor for the song and the entire record. The opening is a simple banjo riff that gives way to a female vocalist that is at first raspy but then as the song slowly picks up there’s an R&B feel to it which was interesting but then seems to implode as it veers off course and sets up the next song with mariachi style horns. That next song is “Contigo en la Distancia (feat. Camila Guiza-Chavez)” has a Brasil ’66 thing going on, and is definitely the best song on the album and it’s most fully formed; it sticks to the script and doesn’t try to experiment for experiment’s sake.
The next few tracks, “Make Anew” and “Hunter Hoarderer (feat. Fernando Rojas),” revert back to the vocal experiments, voices talking and found sounds that just sound out of place on the record as there is nothing to really justify them or hold them up. Perhaps twenty years ago these would have been able to capture more of my attention. When the experiment does work, like on the classically imbued, “New Mantra (feat. Ashtan Towles & Justin Park)” it is a reminder that talent is something that one must hone over a lifetime.
The bright spots on Gather, Together, are worth the price of admission. Under the right influences some of the more “experimental” pieces may sound more mind expanding, but then who is really doing the work? But alas Jack Broza is still young and very talented as well as unafraid to try things, which is key for any artist no matter what their age or medium. The good stuff here is definitely worth the listen though.
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