Robert Gomez has been compared to Beck in some quarters,
but he's certainly not much like that single-named artist whenever
Beck is in his funky, soul brother mode. Instead, Gomez is most like
the Sea Change album Beck, which means that Etherville
is filled with many quiet, sad, pop moments.
Gomez has worked with contemporary jazz diva Norah Jones
in the past, and she in fact sings on "Happiness Today"
here. But such a song title is merely wishful thinking, because there
isn't a whole lot of happiness coming through the words and music
of this project. In fact, there isn't much of Jones' jazz influence
on it, either. Instead, chamber pop is a better description of what
has been created here. Gomez, whose singing voice is just barely above
a whisper, is oftentimes surrounded by the full support of strings
- especially on tracks like "Free." One song title, "Nocturne,"
describes the overall vibe of this music especially well, because
this disc is particularly suited for late night listening escapes.
"I Went Away" is slightly out of character, as it breaks
out for a few brief moments of musical chaos. But for the most part,
this is a CD of tightly structured, hushed laments.
There are quite a few definitions for the word "ether."
These explanations include "the rarefied element formerly believed
to fill the upper regions of space," and "the upper regions
of space: the heavens." But ether can also refer to "a medium
that in the wave theory of light permeates all space and transmits
transverse waves." Lastly, it can mean "a light volatile
flammable liquid C4H10O, which is used chiefly as a solvent and anesthetic."
None of these esotericisms describe Gomez's music, however. It's far
too sad to be heavenly, too personal to "permeate all space,"
and too subdued to ever burst into flames. Instead, Etherville
is better referred to as Robert Gomez's own highly personalized world.
1. Happiness Today
2. The Broken
3. Fast as You Can
4. I Went Away
6. Love Song
9 . A Safe Place
10 . Flight
11. In the End
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