Imagine for a moment that you could move between states of consciousness and dreaming with the simple slide of a fader. One moment you’re on your bed staring at the ceiling, and the next, the “popcorn” plaster frozen mid-drip from your ceiling takes the shape of something else–a face for a moment, now a swirling vortex, resembling more of a stretch of cosmos than any one person, let alone a ceiling covered in dried plaster drops. You’ve forgotten about your bed, and realize you’ve been floating in space for hours. Suddenly, a story unfolds, one which you were not aware of in its entirety until you appeared in-media-res, apparently a vital component of the narrative. This dream-like journey is one that can be had upon embarking on a listen of Voyager, the debut EP from Weslaco’s own Edwin Gonzalez.
Not an entirely new face on the RGV music scene, Gonzalez may be better known as the synth player in the Mid-Valley’s answer to Orange Juice, Roxy Music, and everything-in-between, Gusto Gusto. While their debut LP, Dynamic Worry, sits in release limbo (where it has lived for the last half-year or so), Edwin appears to have been hard at work on his debut solo release, Voyager, a sweeping non-linear epic which unfolds over the course of seven songs, and runs just a cough over 16-minutes. In that time, the listener is propelled through different dimensions of jazz, hip-hop, avant-garde soundscapes, and even baroque-pop, sometimes all within the same song.
According to Gonzalez, everything on the EP was recorded in his bedroom using a Roland Juno-DS synthesizer, a vocoder, an Akai drum machine, and an electric guitar. These days, in the age of SoundCloud and Bandcamp, where access to recording software and music-making tools has never been more affordable and you can produce an entire career’s worth of music on your own — without having to leave the comfort of your bed, if you so wish — this type of home studio setup is not that uncommon. However, the fact remains that tools do not make talent. You can wake up to a house full of the industry’s best recording technology and still manage to produce a steaming pile of shit if you don’t have a talent for it. As you will hear on Voyager, Edwin Gonzalez suffers no such predicament, and instead, manages to produce one of the most passionate and overwhelmingly inventive records to come out of the Rio Grande Valley music scene in some time.
Seasoned ears may wince at the inconsistent production style and occasional imperfections that decorate this record, but to be fair, anybody would find it a struggle to hear anything through all that salt. In any case, imperfections are built into the natural world and — especially in the case of music — can often contribute to the passionate energy at the heart of a project in colorful ways. Such an energy exists on Voyager, strong enough to provide a vivid and fluctuating sense of place, not unlike what one would experience while taking a trip. Except, instead of staring out the window from the confines of a plane, train, or automobile, you are free to explore the outer reaches of your mind, unsure and perhaps unconcerned with the existence of temporal boundaries. If you, like many eager minds born in the Rio Grande Valley, like to dream beyond the confines of the region, consider bringing this EP along for your next voyage.
VOYAGER by Edwin Gonzalez on Spotify