Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze onto Herman Martinez, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist hailing from New Jersey. While he’s still building up a repertoire, his current offerings do provide complex insight into his potential. (Something he’s chock-full of.) Let’s delve into a handful of Martinez’s tracks, an endeavor that’ll drive us deep into a web of surreal, experimentalist rock.
Right off the bat, Martinez’s portfolio is particularly compelling. From the underground heavy metal outfit, Psyphoria, to the belly dance opera known as Ex Astra, Martinez has been involved with some peculiar stuff. Once you immerse yourself in his chaotic sonic wonderland, those influences are seeping out of every corner. The dynamic, bizarre rocker, ‘Phonic Chronicles,’ makes a bold statement out of the gate. This hellishly odd seven-minute romp descends into Martinez’s madness with elegant tact.
‘Clusterflux’ is another interesting track. This atmospheric effort is akin to something off the cutting room floor of a Thom Yorke session. It also provides a good gateway for me to mention something important: Martinez’s music is anything but accessible. It’s experimental in nature and seems to demand a level of attention from the listener. You can’t passively absorb what’s happening here; it’s intellectually crafted music that you have to be involved with while listening.
The Pearl Jam-esque ‘Spoonbender’ is exactly the same way, building a slightly different landscape around reverberated guitars. ‘Verse Chorus Universe’ employs similar atmosphere, but definitely melds with Martinez’s metal roots, too. I’d argue that ‘Verse Chorus Universe’ is the best entry point to Martinez’s work. That tune is more immediately accessible than the rest.
I only have one critique of Martinez’s work. I listened to a half dozen of his tunes for this review and I went through them half a dozen times. Even now, I still have trouble differentiating the tracks. His work melds together and the lines between songs blur. If Martinez really wants to create a successful act, and strong records, he’s going to have to embrace some more diversity in his sound. ‘Sculptor’ is a good step in that direction, but it does eventually devolve into similar stylings as its counterparts.
As aforementioned, Martinez is chock-full of talent. He needs to harness it into a thicker, more layered blend of music. What’s available from him now is certainly a fantastic start, but he’s got a long way to go if he wants to round his act out. He’s sitting pretty with some excellent songs, though, so the only place to go is up.