by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
On Folly is the debut solo record of Carlos Hernandez, most notably of Ava Luna, but someone who has his hands in many other projects be it as a producer or lending a helping hand to other band’s projects. On this outing Hernandez gets to expound on his own brand of R&B and multi-layered pop in greater depths and fully execute his own vision. Hernandez enlists help from time to time from some friends from the New York music/art scene to flesh everything out and add accompanying harmonies. Hernandez also shows off his instrumental versatility here, with some very creative keyboard and impressive bass work.
“Summer Salt” is a very deep funk workout with an extremely strong low end that is very fluid and locked together while the occasional guitar line jumping in and out adds some additional color. Hernandez coolly coos the vocals in this drifting and summery workout that announces itself clearly and bravely and encourages you to flow along with the driving rhythms. “Crush” pairs some sleek guitar and choppy keyboard that will have you moving and dancing along quickly and uses space to some magnificent effect. Hernandez guitar lines are bright and sharp, and the rhythm section once again effortlessly lock themselves into the groove to create a strong and swaying foundation.
“Second Man” drives along in a more straightforward pop fashion with some psychedelic touches that will be a little more familiar to the Ava Luna crowd. Hernandez’s guitar work comes to the fore here and some nimble fills grab your attention almost immediately, while the vocal interplay brings the listener to another dimension. “Ocean Parkway” is another R&B workout featuring some welcomed angular guitar work from Wendy Eisenberg, formerly of Birthing Hips, as she answers Hernandez swerving keyboards. Hernandez and associates conjure up a little bit of a Tom Tom Club feel, as everything jitters along, and Eisenberg lets loose an appropriate solo bringing everything to a halt.
Hernandez has crafted a record that shows his love for the groove and experimentation with where the atmosphere can take you as a musician, be it measured jazz inflected melodies, angular and cutting funk, or playing with space to heighten the underlying anxiety. Everyone involved in this record have created a clean yet constantly and moving soundscape that opens possibilities to move and progress at every moment. Hernandez shows some of the same off the wall pop craft exhibited in Ava Luna recordings but pushes the dance and funk aspects to the fore on this recording to a very positive affect. On Folly is a record that will reveal new levels of sound and approach on every listen, and the irresistible power of groove and movement make for a thrilling listen.