What makes Gastelum's choice of name peculiar, perhaps, is that the music on his album, "Musically Speaking" (imputor?, ), is entirely instrumental, lacking the most obvious facet of traditional poetry: language. But it is the rhythms and rhymes and repetitions that separate poetry from prose, a musical quality that evokes mood and emotion. In this sense, even though he never utters a word, El Poeta is a poet.
Like most of the acts on the roster at imputor?, a local label specializing in the difficult-to-define genre known as IDM, Gastelum relies heavily on a laptop for his compositions. The core of his music is its percussiveness, complex rhythmic patterns and drum-machine beats, which he overlays with instrumental motifs and melodies.
Songs are loosely structured, anchored by consistent threads but allowed to develop with an improvisational feel, a type of music perhaps best described as electro-jazz, or more commonly nu-jazz. Think syncopated rhythms and noodling instrumental smears that nod to classic jazz and funk pulled into mixes that fully embrace modern electronica and all its machine-made mayhem – broken beats and inorganic sounds scattered across the soundscapes.
Though "Musically Speaking" has some slow moments, for the most part it's captivating. A hidden track at the end, which goes acoustic with plucky Spanish guitar (Gastelum's father is a jazz guitarist), is especially alluring. Robert Walter, Chris Stillwell and Jafada also make guest appearances.
-- AnnaMaria Stephens