Saltillo. I’m not talking about the capital of Coahuila in Mexico. I’m talking about the one man wonder band created by Menton J. Matthews III and his unique outlook by combining orchestral music with laid back hip-hop beats and lyrics from some of Shakespeare’s greatest works such as Julius Caesar and Hamlet. A multi-instrumentalist virtuoso, Menton derives his powerful tracks from his own playing and then using Pro Tools he adds in the beats and the lyrics. He only has one album out as of this time, and its name is Ganglion. He’s still in the development phase so most of his music can be found on MySpace or on his website. Go on and listen to his first song titled “A Necessary End”.
Going into this the first time, you’re not sure what to expect from the cello riff that starts the song. Things sound a bit busy at first and then the bass comes in and it lays back. Then next thing you know there’s a piano and some chill beats behind it. Pretty slick, huh? Is that a vocal voice in the background you hear? Why yes it is. And do you know what those words are from? If you don’t, then I don’t know why you’re reading this blog. Those are from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. Pretty interesting combination, isn’t it? Things start to pick up for a while and then it starts to die off a bit. Is the track over already? What’s going on? Then all of a sudden there is pure musical bliss. A simple violin riff over a busy rap beat and your mind is numb. Move on to “A Hair On The Head Of John The Baptist”.
Simple beginning, nothing fancy, and then all of a sudden Ophelia and Hamlet and conversing. Hopefully you can recognize Hamlet when you hear it. The piano riff playing a half-time feel over top of the drum beat and guitar give it a complex, yet laid back feel. And honestly, what’s better than some Hamlet combined with awesome music?
Other tracks of his that stuck out to me are “Backyard Pond”, where microtonal melodies cross over with vinyl scratches on top of a glorious synthesizer melody, “The Opening”, where the orchestral intro phases in and out of a trip-hop back beat and drum programming, and “Grafting”, where his string work almost sounds like pastorals from the ancient times while trip hop throws a new view on top of the whole thing.
If you haven’t heard of Saltillo before, well, I’m not surprised, but hopefully after this they’ll become a regular on your playlist. I’m not a huge fan of rap beats and whatnot, but Saltillo is an exception. Such a unique combination of orchestral melodies and trip-hop back-beats really makes this music a thrill for anyone. On top of that, add in lyrics from Shakespeare and you have music that is truly awesome. The emotions that Saltillo is able to produce using instruments like strings that can be so powerful are absolutely amazing. If you are one of the people who love to relate music to emotions then this artist and album are for you. If not, then you should listen to it anyway. You come here for recommendations, right? Then do as your told and check out Saltillo.