imputor? Press Clippings

El Poeta :: "Musically Speaking" Review

San Diego Union Tribune

Literary scholars believe that poetry has its origins in song, so perhaps it's fitting that San Diego musician Angelo Emile Gastelum calls himself El Poeta. Long before poetry was confined to musty old books in the dark corners of libraries, it was an oral tradition, appealing to the ear rather than the eye.

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