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Martin Gonzalez – Suspiro

Martin Gonzalez – Suspiro

Martin Gonzalez - Suspiro

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Release Date: 22 March, 2024
  • Label: Independent
  • Musicians:
    Martin Gonzalez - Guitars,
    Elizabeth Hull - Vocals,
    Richard Henshall - Guitars,
    Cenk Esen - Piano & Synths,
    Zac Zinger - Sax,
    Ruben Monteiro - Hurdy Gurdy,
    Peter Jones - Bulgarian Choir
  • Favorite songs:
    Clueless, Ouroboros, Hydrilla
  • For Fans of:
    Intervals, Plini, Periphery

Martin Gonzalez first became “famous” to me due to his participation in the whacky bunch of free-spirited troubadours known as Atomic Guava. I could go on a rant about them, which is not the purpose of this review, so I will just say they made enough of an impression on me for me to know that I want to hear everything that any of these guys release. And that gets us to “Suspiro“: the debut solo album from Martin, which was bestowed upon the world in late March.

“Suspiro” feels like an honest experiment. It’s wacky and weird, but it hits all the intended feels in unexpected ways. The first thing I loved about this album is that despite Martin being primarily a guitarist, this isn’t a guitar-centered album. Each song feels like a full band song, where every instrument plays a valuable role in the overall sound. I think the drums are sampled, they sound somewhat plasticky. And the production overall definitely could be better. You can hear that it’s a low-budget debut album. It lacks some attack on the drums and beef in the riffs. But the writing and energy are on point.

Martin Gonzalez – Ouroboros (feat. Elizabeth Hull)

Guitar-wise, it is actually not a very riff-driven album. It has some very tasty grooving riffs in certain moments (‘Clueless’, ‘Ouroboros’) but for the most part the riffs do their djenty thing in a pretty functional manner. On top of that we get fabulous lead melodies and themes. It’s got the nerdy positive sound you get in things like late Intervals or Plini. However, I feel like Martin developed that idea in an unexpected direction. He mixed in some great electronic and atmospheric elements, which can be most clearly heard on ‘Suspiro’. The title track and album closer is almost more of an electronic vibe track with some djenty moments than a prog metal song. On the other tracks electronic beats and synths are often used for brief interludes or for connecting different parts of a song.

Martin’s guitar solos can most accurately be described as playful. He is a technical guitarist, and when the moment’s right, he can shred your face off, but for the most part there’s a jolly interplay of bends, mutes themes and runs coming together in a fluffy flow of melody. It feels light, breezy and inviting (‘Purpose’ is a good example).

Martin Gonzalez – Purpose (feat. Richard Henshall)

To top this off, each song has its own identity and is different from the others. I feel like the opener, ‘Clueless’, is the best combination of all elements that are expected on the album. After that, each song has a different twist. ‘Ouroboros’ and ‘Hydrilla’ feature Elizabeth Hull from Atomic Guava on vocals, delivering some stellar performances: the former more aggressive, the latter more dramatic and emotive. On ‘Finding Home’, the jazzy vibes are strong, and there is a feature from Cenk Essen on piano to fit in with that vibe. ‘Purpose’ gives us a guest solo from Haken‘s Richard Henshall, and I love how clearly noticeable the differences in style of Richard and Martin are on this one. And on ‘Reality Check’, Zac Zinger‘s guest appearance takes the prog-o-meter to 100% by doing the most prog thing that anyone has progged in the history of prog: add a sax solo! On top of this, ‘Clueless’ and ‘Reality Check’ are connected by a reprising theme on hurdy gurdy, which gives a weird folky vibe, somehow making sense in this context!

Martin Gonzalez – Hydrilla (feat. Elizabeth Hull)

The last thing I thought I’d do when reviewing an album centered on a guitarist is list a lot of instruments. However, Martin has created a sonic space in which each of these musicians could display their talents into the songs, and to keep the music cohesive. At the end of the day, I think the best way to describe “Suspiro” is easy listening for the prog nerd. Despite its technical aspects, virtuosity and experimental nature, it is catchy, groovy and loaded with positive vibes. It’s ideal to relax and set a good vibe. And it makes me want to recommend it to anyone as much as I recommend it to fans of the genre.

Track List:

  1. Clueless (04:16)
  2. Ouroboros (04:41)
  3. Finding Home (03:40)
  4. Purpose (03:45)
  5. Hydrilla (04:49)
  6. Reality Check (02:35)
  7. Suspiro (04:45)

About the Author

Andrei Dan

Born and raised in Romania, currently living and studying in the Netherlands, Andrei was introduced to both classic and modern prog at once when he discovered Symphony X and Intervals in 2015. He has quickly grown fond of all the sub-categories of metal but keeps a focus on progressive or innovative music. Most of his free time is spent keeping track of new artists or releases and visiting concerts.

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