In the mid-’90s I was fortunate to be introduced to New Mexican artist, sound engineer, producer & self-taught pianist Ruben Garcia by Barry Craig (aka A Produce) with whom he collaborated on and off at the time. Ruben didn’t like computers, e-mail, and stuff, so instead he and I had some enjoyable phone calls in which he also told he could be off the radar for quite a while. As some of these periods could become longer than anticipated, it was Barry who reconnected me him Ruben again. Ruben Garcia’s work was minimalist, echoing a similar depth and sphere as those of Harold Budd and Brian Eno. The connection with those composers of intimate, emotive music was imminent. In this respect, Mr. Budd once said: “Something wonderful and magical happens when Ruben Garcia meets a piano. It happens to me sometimes; it happens to Ruben all the time.”
Well, the passing of Harold Budd in 2020 made me recall the fine works of Ruben Garcia, who passed away in 2013. Contrary to his previous releases, “Room Full of Easels”, probably the best of Garcia’s discography, contains longer tracks where the artist displays slow-evolving, introspective, and in-depth atmospheric ambiances with a meditative vibe. Harold Budd’s loop-based treatments with lots of reverb are all over the place as the listener is immersing and drifting on a sea of calm.
The more than one-hour album of refined piano meditations includes mostly long, drawn-out tracks with the exception of the title piece which claims only a mere 3 minutes. Jeff Pearce (who remembers Mr. Garcia’s for his great touch with electronics and a completely mesmerizing way of playing the piano) plays ambient guitar on two of the pieces, Scott Fraser plays “whale guitar” on one track and Harold Budd was in charge of the “treatments” on the album opener. Soft, very subdued (including Fender Rhoades-like) sounds and tape loops create a dreamlike atmosphere almost parallel to gems like Budd/Eno’s “The Pearl” and “Plateaux of Mirror”, but Ruben has a wacky habit of mixing slightly alienating elements and ambient sounds like howling wind and rain into the soundscape occasionally, as on the beautiful, oneiric “Eleven Moons”(clocking at 21-minutes). The title piece and the closing track are both a bit smoother, with the closing track carrying bass riffs as the only rhythm over which Jeff Pearce lays his fine guitar playing. Some will be quick to call it New Age, but then you are grossly underestimating Ruben’s great talent work. Despite its simple structure and soothing appearance, there is a lot of depth in the serenity of the background compositions, and that alone makes “Room Full of Easels”, a definite must for the aficionado.
|You can see what reviews I have done of this artist on the Ruben Garcia artist page
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