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In the eight months since Goldbloc, the electro-soul project spearheaded by producer Esteban (aka Esteban Pacheco), released its debut EP “Black Gold,” the first track, “Days Are Dreaming,” has surpassed an astounding 136,000 plays on SoundCloud. “Black Gold” features the Boston-based singer Solei, whose soul-accented voice functions as the focal point of the EP. But it is Esteban’s deft touch and starry vision that define Goldbloc’s hypnotic, downtempo sounds.
Esteban has lived most of his life in Cambridge, save for the years he spent majoring in biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He started making beats in college, releasing tracks under various monikers, including The Matador. None have attracted the kind of buzz that Goldbloc has. (Esteban, along with drummer Alex Brander and vocalist Tory Yoko, will perform as Goldbloc at Church of Boston on Dec. 10.)
“Black Gold” is a sexy, meditative concoction undergirded by deep, shuddering synths and the sinewy movement of spacious backbeats. Dreams and dreaming are reoccurring themes, made excruciatingly almost-tangible by Solei’s close, commiserating performance. She sings a kind of trancy stream-of-consciousness, her voice split and multiplied into a shifting, breathing kaleidoscope: “Me too, slip down low/ That’s where you find the good people go,” she sings in “Days Are Dreaming,” wistful yet sure.
“I kind of had to take some time to figure out what Goldbloc was and what I was trying to do with it, exactly,” says Esteban of the project’s success. “That’s such a big thing for an artist, is to figure out what you’re going to do, let alone how you’re going to do it. ... There’s also a lot of pressure to do things the way people have been doing them, especially if you do get some attention in any way.”
Esteban decided to call Goldbloc a “collective,” a concept modeled on the producer-driven group Thievery Corporation, whose founding members Eric Hilton and Rob Garza form the basis of a loose and ever-changing lineup of collaborators.
“It’s really great what they’ve built over time. They’ve been doing it since ’95,” says Esteban. “They’ve kind of built this big band. When they play live, they have two huge tour buses. And that took years and years of collaborations, both in studio and for their live shows. And I thought that was a really great thing that I didn’t see too many people doing.”
In that spirit, Goldbloc’s next EP, “Evolution,” employs the vocal talents of Tory Yoko. Yoko has a more fervent style in contrast to Solei’s leisurely croon, and Esteban mixes her further away, a distant, beckoning presence. Even more so than in “Black Gold,” on “Evolution” the singer is treated as just another instrument, a sound or texture to be chopped up and manipulated. It can be difficult to discern the words on the new EP, but Esteban wisely recognizes that it is the intimate, emotional quality of the human voice, more than any particular lyric, that brings his songs to life.
“Evolution” is named for the intro track, a trippy riff on a lecture by the scientist/entrepreneur Dr. Peter Diamandis. It is built around the audio pulled from a YouTube video, in which Diamandis expounds upon the possibilities of technology in human society. “All of a sudden, we are becoming a species of seven billion interconnected individuals. We are a new organism,” he intones, a note of wonder in his voice. It’s a sweeping statement, one that unfurls confidently within Goldbloc’s vast sonic palette. It’s music meant for dreaming, made by a dreamer.
This article was originally published on December 08, 2014.
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