DISC 1: A.M.
The Garden is the debut effort from up and coming artist Zack Symes. A full length, double disc album, chronologizing the story of man, removed from the garden and kicked from the clouds. With 24 tracks serving to parallel 24 hours in a day, the songs flow and develop a more cinematic feel to the listener. Beginning with,
"This is the story of man. trying to get home, just trying to get back to... the Garden"
Zack Symes, who handled 100% of his own productions [with additional drumming from Jay Elliot], sets the stage opening up the album with a very deep space vibe set to illustrate God putting the universe together. Laid out over various samples of a book flipping through chapters, record static and needle drops, along with a movie reel opening and an orchestra tuning up he had this to say about that ;
"I formatted all of those sounds to illustrate how I want this album to be perceived. It's not just a an album, but more a combination of everything; a movie, a book, a record, and an orchestral piece"
Without giving to much away, because a written article can hardly do this album justice, let us just say track one, An A.M LullaBYE (The Prologue), is sure to give you a feeling of being removed and separated from source. Continuing on he further sets the stage with a song for the kids;
"There are things they wont teach you in public school. Knowledge is power, rule 1... knowledge is power"
Its with song three, aptly titled "Amnesia (skit)" that the album really begins to take shape. Its here he says "That we enter the human world and take the listener through that aspect of life. I wanted the album to be balanced and this story allows that idea. Parties, sex, drugs, they're all a big part of life especially in the adolescent stage which is where we are around tracks 3-6." "Condoms & Yoyos" serves as the albums party anthem followed by the hilarious interlude [White Girl Wasted] of getting a drunk girl up a flight of stairs in order to have a fun night of "Netflix and chill, Red-box and hang out" on #6 "Tempur-pedic Tempos". Skimming through a little bit, I wanted to highlight the record "I'm white, let's move on". Definitely a stand out track on this long, but seemingly not overstuffed, album. This record deals with the themes that the title suggests. Being white in the hip-hop world has been frowned upon since it's conception in the early 90's. There have been obvious breakthroughs ::cough cough:: Eminem, but he wanted to shed light and fully admit "I'm from the suburbs. 100%". He pokes fun at what has become, as he calls it "gangster pop-culture".
"One of my favorite lines off the whole album; 'In the hood your mom's crying as you die for money, and everybody here's crying 'cause I just hit a puppy.'"
Paying homage to his home town culture of bud light and Jesus on number 8 "Wake Back to Bed", this interlude breaks up some of the more serious topics from previous records before he again jumps right back into this favorite thing to rap about, esoteric wisdom. On the following track "Out of my Body" he raps "What happens if you land correctly and you don't fall asleep?" He then brightens up the mood with a little humor on a skit called "The Hospital" and the follow up track "Out of my Mind" where he deals with the topic of being prescribed Xanax but favoring the path of "Actually dealing with my problems" after a few months of being a "government zombie sheep". Ending the first half of this movie with "Tea-Time" where he takes a page out of Eminem's book; discussing how rap won't sell about this or that topic. But instead of it being about homosexuals and Vicodin, he discusses existentialist topics with sprinkled bits of humor to keep the listener engaged. All because, as he puts it;
"Rap is fucking stupid. Jay Z still raps about drugs and diamonds. Rick Ross is a horrible image to follow. But God please don't me started on mumble rap. Shout out to Kendrick and J. Cole for bringing music back."
Stay tuned for a review of disc 2, P.M. #thegarden
DISC 2: P.M.
Tying in perfectly, he does exactly what the final track on the first disc (A>M.) suggests, giving the listener a club record. "She's so good at dropping it low. She's so ratchet she should work at Lowe's," he raps. He switches gears from his usual Roadhouse drum kit in favor of the expected Roland 808 kick drum. "I wanted a beat I could rap inside, real down-tempo with a weird 3/4 high-hat gittering between the downbeat and snare." Followed by Dumb rap pt 2 he says, "The album had to be balanced, like I said before I wanted to meet people where they are." Coming next, track 3 (15) titled "Fat 'Murica"'s chorus pretty much says it all
"I just think that we're too damn nice". The short interlude "The Beach" then breaks up the album before diving back deep into his favorite topic, esoteric wisdom;
"'Bunca fuckin questions man I wished I never asked that/ A point on google maps I'm so fucking past that/ There's a point where Matt will ask where the grass at/ We think were so smart with our trash-bags and NASDAQ"
"Wowzers! Really?" is a well needed break in his easy going down-tempo drum style. It offers a coachella-esque rave vibe with a 4 to the floor kick drum ending with an amazing dub step drop that really shows off Zack's production skills. So whats next on the album? Well he sat back and thought about what's missing.
"Originally I thought I needed a love song, and well... not being in love at the time I decided to dedicate this track to my dog, Lexie. I laid this funny explanation over a a really cool tuned electronic drum kit that had notes or melodies set under neath each drum hit. But, who figured I would later actually found a girl that would really give me the inspiration to write her a record. A record that I then titled "Eve For a Week". Funny story she ended up being the model on the cover... playing Eve"
It's a really good record, personal in a sense, while remaining radio friendly. Track 7, "Cubicle Cages" keeps the story going, "I just found a girl I like then you get a job or a career and blah blah blah white picket fence" Its a fun Jazz feel, lazy drums with a walking bass and something similar to a Wurlitzer piano pad and a solo Clarinet. "I Quit", the next song on this double disc joy-ride through life, is a funny interlude from that Cubicle Cage life-style and his way of making it out. Number 9 is "Mondays" and if you haven't heard that record on every radio station yet, you must of blown your speakers last winter and just aren't listening. After "Mondays, a record where he walks out on the 9-5 life, comes a deeply personal song with a great background story, "When I first played this on piano and rapped it for my dad he gave me a real hug and began to see his son as a musicians, not some rapping Eminem wannabee." That song is "50/50", a title referring to the divorce rate in America. "My parents were always so different" he says, " I just thought we needed a darker song to separate Mondays from my favorite track on the album number 23 'Saving Aladdin'" That song is his "Grammy song" as he says on the intro. A slightly slower rock drum kit set in front of some alluring spaced out sitars.
"I just turned 18, I don't know what happened/ Now I'm on a plane 'bout to die for Aladdin/ Except there's no magic lamp no genies in these places/ A whole buncha' Jasmines but you can't see their faces."
"I loves this song so much, right after my Lucid dreaming track on Disc 1: A.M. number 9, 'Out of my body'."
How does he end it? How does he end this epic journey from the birth canal of Eden? Well, just as you would expect, with his own funeral. Again, words cannot do his final track, "Last Will & Testament" any justice. So I won't try. But listen to it all, in order, and like a movie you'll love the oddly expected twists and turns along the way down to Earth's Wonderland. I promise.