Chords of Truth - Reflections of Reality (Oraku Indie Remix)

Electronic music can be problematic for some music fans because the style is sound-centered -- on aural spices and beats-- and not quite so concerned with lyrics. Therefore, this collaboration between folk singer Jason Garriotte and producer Pierre Vergeat (AKA Oraku) might just be a workable solution for those suffering from a phobia: the fear of Electronica.

As the story goes, the electronic music community picked up on Garriotte's sometimes psychedelic lyrics, which were then presumably set to their computerized grooves for something entirely new. This seven-track release finds one producer in particular, Oraku, trying his hand at giving Garriotte's singing and melodies brand new song homes.

The results are mixed at best, however. The biggest drawback to this collaboration is Garriotte's vocal limitations. He sings with a mild vibrato, which is oftentimes as robotic and mechanical as the bleeps and buzzes newly incorporated into his songs. For instance, "Listen" finds Garriotte vocalizing in an unnatural vocal tone over an out of tune guitar, which no amount of electronic filigree could ever fix.

One also gets the feeling electronic musicians like Oraku might be simply having a laugh at Garriotte's expense. The song "When I Was Wasted," for example, features Garriotte seriously commenting on the adverse affects of substance abuse. Yet dancers (and electronic musicians) may just get a kick out of the singer/songwriter singing about getting stoned, and completely miss his point. Speaking of pointless, the song "Pop or Soda" is all about carbonated beverages, which is really not the best subject matter for pop no pun intended music.

Oraku isn't beyond criticism, either. He doesn't really create any ear-popping groves to support Garriotte. In fact, "What Life is about" is the best song on this collection because it seemingly changes the original track the least. Garriotte's singing rides over a guitar-backed track while Oraku has added some subtly spacey elements to enhance it. It's a pretty song that leaves Garriotte coming off rational and reasonable, rather than the unintended butt of somebody else's jokes.

The concept of updating folk music with modernized musical elements is a wonderful idea, and has elevated the careers of folks like David Gray and Suzanne Vega. The key is finding the right matches. To these ears, though, Oraku isn't the right match for Jason Garriotte. One is left neither being a fan of Garriotte, or Oraku.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up the original version of "Moments" on YouTube (here) and it was far more effective. Garriotte's voice against the backdrop of a lone acoustic guitar was all that was necessary to create a workable song.

Bono once famously sang how all he really needed was three chords and the truth. With the songs on Chords of Truth, perhaps this is all Garriotte needs, as well. The experiment with Garriotte's songs and Oraku's sounds is just that, an experiment. Any scientist will tell you that some experiments simply don't work. It's not a knock on the chemicals (in this case, the chemicals of Garriotte and Oraku), but the results of their mixture together. Maybe it's time to go back to the lab.

Chords of Truth - Reflections of Reality (Oraku Indie Remix)

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