Reviews Zone

Gizmo Varillas: El Dorado (Muisca Records) February 3rd

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Two tracks into “El Dorado” and I am hooked on the great sunshine feeling that emanates from this album – from the Spanish guitar on the instrumental “Paraiso” through to the infectious rhythms of “Freedom For A Change,” the latter would make a great radio track.

Santander-born Gizmo Varillas has taken many influences and flavours, and moulded them into a uniquely refreshing sound. There’s a lively Ska/Reggae vibe on “Outta My Mind”. “No War” is a modern twist on the sixties ‘summer of love’ anti-war songs. The track includes a clip of John Lennon being interviewed about his views on peace. “Gotta Getaway” has that 70s Philly sound about it, a stonking bass line at its core.

“Al Caminar,” translated as ‘to walk’, is sung in his mother tongue of Spanish. “Shadows Of The Dark” has a  classical flamenco guitar to transport us to a warmer climate; a tale of broken hearts and lost love, which could sum up most holiday romances. Gizmo’s journey has taken him from his birthplace of Santander to Bilbao, and then to London following a stop off in Cardiff, where he took up studies for documentary making. He also spent a summer of busking in France, and draws upon his many travels in his music.

His vocals make this a stand out album,  sometimes punchy and at other times, softly floating above the track. A talented guy; Gizmo played all the instrumentation on this album, recorded in London; electric guitar, flute and ukulele and a wide range of percussion. Gizmo wrote and produced the album, working from his bedroom. I sincerely hope this gets the attention it deserves, playing support with the likes of Jack Savoretti and Adam James is a step in the right direction.

Track nine, “On The Run” takes two or three listens to really appreciate the depth of the production on this track. So many things going on, but so well balanced. Closing out the CD is the title track, one of two instrumental cuts.

A dozen, highly commercial, ambient, classical and yet thought provoking cuts. With natural Latin influences from his childhood, and later exposure to wider musical styles, this is an accomplished piece of work and a perfect soundtrack to 2017’s summer we are yet to have.


By Ian Shipley

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’


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