This review is either very late or early, depending on how you look at it. Ganglion by Saltillo was originally released back in 2006. It’s now being reissued (and for very good reason) by Artoffact Records. Saltillo is the one man show of Menton Matthews from the trip-hop band Sunday Munich. Knowing that Saltillo is a one man show, one might be in awe after listening to Ganglion.
From track to track, Ganglion is very diverse. Each track within itself is very diverse. With Ganglion, Matthews combines the classical sounds of violin, cello, piano (plus banjo, drums and guitars) with the modern electronic and chaotic trip-hop sound. He uses traditional vocals as well as sampling from movies and even Shakespeare with the music to create emotion and atmosphere. You might be thinking that would sound like nothing but noise. With many bands who try it, it usually is just noise. Mathews however seems to be a master.
With the exception of one track, “Backyard Pond“, all the tracks on Ganglion are well balanced. A close to perfect combination of electronica, sampling and traditional instruments. This is actually saying a lot coming from me. I am a nit picky bastard who rarely gets into much of the electronic scene (industrial-metal is more my thing). Mostly for the reason that so much of it is redundant, cold, sterile and boring. Ganglion is far from any of those things.
Ganglion is full of emotion much like a movie soundtrack would be. Tracks like “A Necessary End” has a very somber feel to it. Almost like something Clint Mansell (Requiem For A Dream) would create. It’s a great fusion of string instruments, piano and haunting vocals and samples mixed with trip-hop vibe electronic beats and noise. It works because neither is overpowering. “Giving In” is similar in feel. One of my favorite tracks is “Remember Me?“. It’s a fantastic mix of banjo, violins, cellos and digital beats all put to a very rhythmic and hypnotic groove.
Then you have tracks like “Blood and Milk” and “A Hair On The Head Of John The Baptist” which swing the other way. They are much more electronic heavy with just touches of traditional instruments. All still very well balanced however. “I’m On The Wrong Side” is another stand out track. It drops almost all the electronic sounds and goes for a somber, straight rock vibe and yet it perfectly fits with the mood of the album.
Fans of bands like Portishead, Junkie XL, or Massive Attack will enjoy this. Saltillo’s album Ganglion is a perfect storm of electronic musical diversity. It effortlessly combines musical elements that seem like they would be worlds apart and has them play along beautifully. Menton J. Matthews knows what he is doing.