Monday, June 5, 2017

Brazil/Australia to America: Fernando Aragones Unveils First Proper EP As Animal Ventura, Forrest St. (Pat Van Dyke Sessions)

"Back in Summer of 2016, I got an email from Brazilian-born/Australian-based song-writer Fernando [Aragones] (aka Animal Ventura) inquiring about having me produce his upcoming record. Last November, we did just that," Jersey City-based drummer and producer Pat Van Dyke wrote within a recent email. Van Dyke is of course, referring to an album he produced, recorded, mixed, and drummed throughout for Animal Ventura over a span of 10 days last November. What was birthed out of those five days of recording and five days-worth of Jersey City gigs between sessions will now forever be known as Forrest St; an instantly timeless 8-track collection which blurs the genre lines between "Alternative, Electronica, Roots, Dub, Electro, Groove, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and pedal steel guitar," as listed on Bandcamp. Forrest St, to my moderately trained and traveled ear, sounds something like a mix between Pharrell, fellow Aussie Jonti, Jason Mraz, and Madlib's 2004 Electro-Acoustic Stevie Wonder covers album aptly-titled Stevie. "I think Forrest St. represents the spectrum of influences that shaped my musical path and taste over the last 20 years or so. I tried to keep as diverse as I could, but at the same time, coherent with the sounds and production style. I also tried to keep as faithful to that space and time as I could, so this record is a like photograph of those songs and experiences," Fernando Aragones blissfully recounted about the 11/2016 Animal Ventura-PVD sessions.

Forrest St. showcases the talents of many of Aragones & Van Dyke's friends and frequent collaborators: bassist Jordan Scannella, keyboardist David Stolarz (who played on RE: Crates 001,) pedal steel player Jonny Lam, songstress Laura Stitt, Shannon Stitt on melodica, trumpet player Richard Polatchek, tenor sax player Jeff Hackworth, trombonist Peter Lin, and of course, Pat Van Dyke on drums and Fernando Aragones on lead vocals, guitars, and percussion. Aragones himself attests that he had "been playing these songs for a while back then" (prior to meeting PVD) within his Animal Ventura live sets and to that effect, there are a few high-quality early takes on Animal Ventura's YouTube channel—namely, Forrest St. stand-outs "Muddy Water" and "Slave of Love (Do It Twice)" both accompanied by Shannon Stitt on keys. Animal Ventura's first tried and true "solo" album, Forrest St. is now available for mass consumption on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and like-minded digital platforms; to accompany the widespread release, Fernando Aragones has uploaded Animal Ventura // Making-of Forrest St. which chronicles his journey from Australia to "the outskirts of Jersey City, New Jersey," marathon recording sessions behind Forrest St. and full band live gigs interspersed throughout.

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