I Wear My Face on My Head is a top notch funk/fusion album full stop. It’s a great addition to the collection of any fan of Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, Soulive or any groove oriented band. I saw Kevin touring with Cory Wong few times but connected after the set at Sweetwater 420 Festival set in 2019. Kevin had some killer solos in every show so I was on the lookout when he released this album.
One of the fun things about the album is that each song has its own style and the instrumentation on each track is unique. Regarding how the album came together, Kevin relayed “I recorded the whole record remotely from April- July. I just emailed tracks to friends and then I’d often re-record parts to help make it feel more like we were playing together. Once I got all the tracks ready I met with my mix engineer Jason McGlone who helped put it all together.”
Kevin moves seamlessly from electronic sounds to classic piano and back to create great vibes. The textures are very intricate and layered and Kevin described it like this, “Radio 2030 has at least 10 different keyboard tones happening throughout and sometimes up to that many happening at the same time. For example, the breakbeat outro section has 4 lead synths happening simultaneously, synth bass, a layer of Rhodes and piano, and arpeggiator synth, string synth, synth swells, another piano track and probably more. Babar’s Revenge has piano, mellotron, 1 or 2 string synths, 3 or 4 lead synths, synth brass swells, synth bass, a few sound fx tracks…. you get the idea, about every song is like this. Farewell goes up to 6 part harmony…. I recorded them individually, so 6 tracks.”
It dawned on me that artists like Kevin really have to be 3D thinkers with music moving through time and space but the layering adds the thick third dimension. Here’s the track-by-track rundown, with audio and some commentary direct from Kevin to you!
Radio 2030: I can’t say for sure but I think the title comes from the opening groove that would be perfect for a night time jazz radio intro. Also, the addition of the scratchy sound suggests that by 2030 the transition back to vinyl will be complete. Synth controls the main line until Kevin takes a nice piano turn midway. This transitions into some drum and bass sounding rhythm setting the stage for Kevin to come back with some future synth. The ending is Kevin vamping on piano – this will be reminiscent of Bill Laurance’s ending on ‘Ready Wednesday‘ for Snarky Puppy fans.
“Babar’s Revenge was named because I pictured a really pissed off elephant ready for revenge.”
Babar’s Revenge: Fuzzy bass keys and drums start this one with a super funky riff and the piano keys play a contrast melody. This one’s unique because it’s just Kevin and Steve Goold on drums. With the multiple keyboards, the sound is much more full. The dual synth-bass keys combo is cosmic with sounds coming from all angles. The piano provides soft comfort on the ride out.
Blue Hour: The main melody opens with a solo piano with some water flow sounds before Trent Baarspul (guitar) and Faded Aeon (drums) join. Again the round is richer than its players. There’s a rising synth part at the end that’s calls back to Kool and the Gang’s Summer Madness, very cool.
“Blue Hour starts with a recording of an actual thunderstorm I took on my phone this summer.”
“I named Electric Graveyard that because I’ve always pictured a dance party at a graveyard. It’s got Mellotron throughout the tune and to me it always has this dark sinister vibe to it.”
Electric Graveyard: This is a favorite, based on the broader instrumentation including violin (Ernest Bisong), guitar (Cory Wong), trumpet (Jake Baldwin), sax (Nelson Devereaux), and drums (Steve Goold). Naturally it’s very funky. Kevin starts with a nice synth riff and lays the base for Ernest’s entry on violin. Can’t get enough of that funk violin and when horns provide accompaniment it’s great. The rhythm of this one is quite distinction and Steve shows great chops on the kit.
Paging Dr. Patient: Here’s another cleverly structured song with Kevin on multiple overdubbed keys, Jeremy Ylvisaker- (guitar melody/outbursts), Jordan Rose (drums) and Ariel Posen with the wicked solo slide guitar midway through.
It starts off with Kevin, Jeremy and Jordan playing kind of a ballad melody and then Ariel blasts in with a wailing Western style slide. The ending has again Kevin on two or three keyboard sections with the guitar and drums. This is a very chill song but really fun listening.
Walk The Dog: Here, a jaunty piano background sounds almost as the rhythm line for a swirl of synths riding over the top. Midway there’s a piano interlude switching to a break with synth-piano-drums taking a pleasant detour. The full fuzzy synth gives way to a slower piano close.
Farf Bag: Farf Bag is perhaps the most bass laden tune with some deep grooves and some flighty synth over the top. Its got and effective melange of Kevin on keys plus guitar (Trent Baarspul), bass (Megan Mahoney and drums (Martin Dosh). A slower pace allows each player to have space to inject flavor into the mix. It’s a combo of funky flare and jazzy jaunts along many paths.
“Farf Bag was co written with my wife Staci. Years ago she sang the bass groove and first counter melody into her phone and kept telling me we should make it a song. Finally we sat down one day and made it into what it was. She also named it Farf Bag because we thought it was hilarious.”
Bird’s World: The tune starts off with some far off piano before the dreamy bass and guitar come in. It paints a very colorful landscape as time slides by. Kevin interjects a silky synth to piano transition an good vibes roll over the listener. The final piano fade leaves you wanting more.
Farewell: As appropriate with a solo album, the last track Farewell, is just Kevin for a short minute (literally) on space synth in a very lyrical goodbye to the album. It’s really a great and fitting end to a fine collection.
“Farewell was played entirely on the Moog Little Phatty.”
Prior to this album I had not listened to Kevin’s solo work. Based on seeing him work with Cory Wong and what he brings to that band, I figured it would be solid but it’s turns out to be one terrific collection of tunes. Without hesitation, I highly recommend this as a fine listen. Click on the album cover on the right to purchase on BandCamp!
Kevin Gastonguay- keys/keybass (1-9)
Patrick Horigan- guitar (1, 6. 8)
FadedAeon- drums (1, 3, 8)
Steve Goold- drums (2, 4)
Trent Baarspul- guitar (3, 7)
Ernest Bisong- violin (4)
Cory Wong- guitar (4)
Jake Baldwin- trumpet (4)
Nelson Devereaux- sax (4)
Ariel Posen- guitar (solo/slide) (5)
Jeremy Ylvisaker- guitar (melody/outbursts) (5)
Jordan Rose- drums (5)
Petar Janjic- drums (6)
Trent Baarspul- guitar (7)
Megan Mahoney- bass (7)
Martin Dosh- drums (7)