In “I am Europe”, Gonzales’ brilliant lyrics metaphorized major European cities and countries within a catchy Boys Noize soundscape. At the time, having lived in and travelled around Europe for a decade, Gonzales explained that he still had an “outsider” view of European history and culture, and that his lyrics simply reflected what he observed. Fast-forward another decade and Gonzales appears to find himself back in the country that formed the genesis of his ethereal Solo Piano—but this time, he’s not an outsider anymore, having lived about half his life in Europe. He’s not necessarily an insider either but was likely looking for a new challenge that would drive the authenticity that can only stem from a beginner’s mind, and in the case of “French Kiss”, capturing Gonzales’ deep lyrical wit completely in a non-native language (i.e., France” French—as opposed to Quebecois) was likely a formidable—and slightly risky—task.
A ‘crossfader’ is a convenient left/right control on the front of most DJ mixers that is invaluable to mixing tracks, since it allows the DJ to control just how much of one song is heard at the same time as another. Move the crossfader all the way over to one side, and only one music source is playing. Slap it back, and the other source is heard. Leave it somewhere in-between, and both songs can be heard simultaneously. An experienced DJ cues up songs generally close in tempo and in the same key, and deftly matches the tempo and beats such that when the slider is moved to the centre, a new song emerges that is a creative, seamless and delightful blend of the two.
This DJ spirit certainly seems to have been at play in Plastikman and Gonzales new collaborative album Consumed In Key, where Plastikman’s 30-year old classic Consumed is the fortunate recipient of Gonzales’ piano interpretations—and the results are stunning. We’ll dive deep into all aspects of the album, but first, a closer look at the uncanny parallelism of the Plastikman/Gonzales timeline.
For most of us, hard work achieves short-term goals that will likely be consumed and seen by a few people — ourselves, co-workers, friends, and so on. Even people whose work is seen by millions of people know that change is relatively constant; web designs that work today will be overrun in a few months, and authors can publish second editions. Imagine you had only one shot to create something to be consumed by millions of people. Continue reading
It appears that Gonzales took his own “Entertainist” lyrics to heart; Solo Piano III represents a gorgeous evolution of solo piano music – a way forward that attracts new fans without alienating current ones. In our eyes (or ears), Solo Piano III is the future; it leads the way into a world filled with musical craftsmanship and beautiful harmonies, where there is time to gaze into the distance and contemplate life, to love, cry, and (of course) have a good laugh. Continue reading
Back in April 2013, we covered an interview Gonzales had with “Sud Ouest” (a regional French magazine). Within the interview, he indicated that the “inherently imperfect” sound of the piano sounds even more perfect to our ears, and added that there will, “no doubt be a Solo Piano III or a Solo Piano IV album.” Four years later, we’re happy to say that all signs are pointing to Gonzales actively working on Solo Piano III. The first hint we saw was a Twitter response Gonzales sent to someone who had a question:
@ClaraJeffery working on 3 as we speak!
— Chilly Gonzales (@chillygonzales) March 12, 2017
Very rarely are we treated to a nexus of talent that echoes the great duos: Bacharach and David, Webber and Rice, Morrissey and Marr, to name a few. The inability for critics and music services to “pigeonhole” Room 29 is ample evidence of the novel space the album holds; not to say the record companies haven’t tried, with made-up categories such as “Classical Crossover.” After repeated listenings, Room 29 solidly remains in a category unto itself – a musical and lyrical adventure. Feist pointed out that Room 29 (the album) is actually the soundtrack to Room 29 (the performance), but while the majority of us miss out on the added visceral benefits of a live performance, Room 29 (the album) evokes powerful mental images of our own creation – a unique and personalized Room 29 performance for each listener. The review below is obviously based on our own experience (save a few choice quotes) and our familiarity with the unbelievably high water mark Gonzales sets for himself. Continue reading
Honing and refining his skill, moving from Solo Piano to chamber music and now to voice and piano (and chamber music), Gonzales’ trajectory appears to focus on re-introducing classic techniques to new audiences. And one senses that listeners are ready for something with deeper and lasting meaning; not since the heyday of disco have audiences been subjected to deep and relentless domination of dance-oriented 4/4 pop – people are looking for a different relationship with music. Room 29 is a collaborative effort, bringing together the witty and insightful lyrics of Jarvis Cocker and the deep and emotional Gonzales piano that we know and love. From the pre-release tracks, it’s easy to hear how well this pairing works, but (as with any Gonzales release), there’s a lot of background to discover and layers to peel back – let’s have a closer look. Continue reading
Summers in Canada are never long enough; nature seems to be able to “cram in” a year of growth in a few short months and we end up trying to do the same for trips to the beach and cottage, and all manner of work that has to take place outdoors. Taking a break from work or school always seems to provide a “tangential” inspiration for a new approach to a problem, or even coming up with entirely new ideas. This year, the end of summer also means that Gonz’s “radical sabbatical” is about 3/5 of the way through, but with his new Apple Beats One show (Music’s Cool with Chilly Gonzales) it appears that he hasn’t completely stepped away from public view. When we read that Gonz will be participating in the Red Bull Concert Academy in Montreal (with a special “Gonzervatoire Masterclass Concert” on October 26th) Continue reading
Chilly Gonzales and his long-time director Jonathan Barré have created one of the most compelling Gonzales videos to-date: (Not) A Musical Genius. At first view, the video is funny and touching: a young pre-Gonzales Gonzales has a crush on his piano teacher, who turns out to have a boyfriend. This unrequited love motivates Gonzales to form a new persona – one that will win the hearts and minds of an audience. On repeated views, there are a multitude of symbolic elements that seem to underscore a much deeper message, which we will explore in-depth. Continue reading
It’s been a hectic day. You’ve finally managed to squeeze into a seat on the train ride home, and press ‘shuffle’ to let the digital gods decide you musical fate. As you stare out the window, your head is filled with the unmistakable first few notes of “Othello”. Instantly, all other sounds disappear and it’s just you and Gonzales’ piano – his music conjuring some fantastic mental images and emotions as the velocity of the train slows down imperceptibly. Great music connects the auditory, visual, and emotional centres of our brain, and Gonzales has refined his craft to create a ‘perfect storm’ of all three. Gonzales is a master sculptor: his medium is sound, and he uses his piano as a tool to chisel away layers to uncover beautiful and unique sculptures that exist within all of us. Continue reading