Gabriel Garzón-Montano – the sonic love child of Prince, D’Angelo, James Blake and Pete Rock – is a pleasure to chat to. Being a multi-instrumentalist and anextremelyproficient songwriter/arranger, his compositions are entirely self-produced, conferring on them an originality that aids in bucking the current homogenisation of R&B, and cohere perfectly with his new label – Stones Throw.
About a week ago now, I made a prediction – and it seems to be coming true. When Gambino announced his third LP ‘Awaken My Love!’ and released its first single‘Me and Your Mama’, there was a marked deviation from his pensive bars and pop leanings – instead, opting for smoky vocal lines and sunburnt guitars. This, I believe, was a welcome addition to his catalogue and luckily – he’s continuing in this vein.
If we were to sketch a musical Venn diagram, West London’s Léks Rivers would perch (baseball cap backwards – obviously) slap-bang in middle of where these hypothetical circles intersect. That is to say, Rivers’ is somewhat of an anomaly. His omnivorous consumption of music manifests in multiple ways: physically, as a zany hipster who unabashedly bucks the roadman trend, and sonically – with his psychedelic, genre-bending compositions aptly labelled ‘future soul’.
Léks turned some heads in 2015 with his independently released track‘Soho Knights’. Over eccentric organs and thunderous snares spanning the whole stereo field, Rivers’ soaring vocal lines immediately struck a chord with the labels. When you’re channelling the trail-blazing spirit of both Stevie WonderandAndré 3000 – how could you not?
Eventually, Black Butter Records snapped him up. It’s not hard to see why: boasting an eclectic range of artists from J Hus to Eats Everything, Léks might even share sonic commonalities withallof them.
This leads us to his most recent offering, ‘No Rest For The Wicked’. Poignant piano riffs and formidable, driving chords pave the way for Léks’ blistering vocals: ‘I am not here to play/I am not here to love you/You falling a victim to fame/That is why I cannot trust you!’ The track, with its discernible R&B overtones, bears a striking resemblance to The Weeknd’s ‘Wicked Games’ (not to mention the title); however, there is an intensity to Rivers’ vocals and instrumentation which carves a lane entirely its own.
Yeah, Radio 1 – fuck – even Capital could spin this track all day and everyone would love it. It’s potency is undeniable. Don’t get it twisted, though: Léks didn’t make this shit for the radio – nuh uh.