Angélica Garcia’s latest EP, Echo Eléctrico, came out on Spacebomb Records in October, and if you are still sleeping on this multi-layered exhibition of Garcia’s vocal talents, you really need to fix that ASAP, writes Marilyn Drew Necci.
Keeping up with what’s going on in the Richmond music scene can be a full time job, and as someone with a whole bunch of those, I know firsthand that even staying right on top of things, it can take you a while to get around to some things that clearly demand prompt attention. Therefore I will have to humbly request a #latepass from those of you who’ve been up on Angélica Garcia‘s latest, a five-song EP released on cassette by Spacebomb Records entitled Echo Eléctrico, ever since it came out back in mid-October. As for the rest of you, I only hope that this article will encourage you to get familiar with this excellent release before the hour grows any later.
Angélica Garcia has been in and out of mainstream attention multiple times over the course of her career thus far, beginning with her 2016 major-label debut, Medicine For Birds, which got a lot of attention at the time of its release. A couple of years later, she came to Richmond, and hit paydirt a second time when “Jicama,” the lead single from her second album, Cha Cha Palace (another Spacebomb release), made it to former President Barack Obama’s year-end playlist in 2019. Isn’t it weird that a former United States President has the whole world tuning into his Spotify Wrapped at the end of every year? I sure wouldn’t have expected that back when I was in high school and George H.W. Bush was president.
Anyway, this is all review for those of us here in Richmond. We’ve been paying attention to Garcia the whole time; we know and love her complex pop tunes and their strong influence from the Latin American music of Garcia’s Mexican and Salvadoran family. We didn’t need Barack Obama to tell us to listen to Cha Cha Palace, and honestly, none of y’all need me to tell you to listen to Echo Eléctrico, either. But on the off chance you haven’t yet: let me explain why you need to get to it ASAP.
The first thing you need to know is that Garcia recorded Echo Eléctrico on her own, with a loop station, building up these multi-layered tracks out of almost nothing more her own voice (isolated piano notes do appear on the EP’s closing track, “Paloma Negra”). Honestly, though, you might not guess it if I didn’t tell you; while all five of these tracks have an atmospheric, echoing feel, most of them also feature humming beds of sound that, if you didn’t listen too closely, you might think were created by synths. You’d be wrong, though, just as I was (I didn’t read the blurb telling me it was an a cappella EP until I was halfway through track two, “Macorina”). On a technical level, this fact is the most impressive one about Echo Eléctrico; just knowing that Garcia created these towering cathedrals of melodic sound solely by layering her own vocals is enough to render the whole thing rather fascinating.
But it must be said: if these weren’t good songs, none of it would matter much at all. Fortunately for Garcia, she obtained these tunes from an impeccable source: the traditional songbooks of Latin America. All of these songs are standards in Spanish-speaking parts of the world (including neighborhoods right here in Richmond), and even if you’ve never heard any of them before, Garcia’s versions will help you understand why. From the rumbling intensity of opener “Malaguena” to the affecting sadness at the heart of “Paloma Negra,” there’s a ton of power in all of these songs, power that is channeled to stunning effect throughout Echo Eléctrico.
In the end, this album reminds me of nothing so much as mid-period Bjork, when she was working with largely a cappella textures on her Medulla album. Of course, Garcia’s Latina background and source material allows for a much more soulful result than Icelandic princess Bjork was able to generate with her own experiments in similar styles. So even if you were one of the many who was weirded out by Medulla, I highly recommend that you dive in on Echo Eléctrico. These songs will get under your skin in a hurry.