It was about time for Javier Reyes (Animals as Leaders and T.R.A.M.) to venture outside the shadows of his bandmate Tosin Abasi. Without a doubt we knew that to keep up with Abasi’s technicality, Reyes had to be an amazingly proficient player as well. Basal Ganglia confirmed how underrated Reyes is and how good his music can be.

This debut ep is short, but it feels even shorter after listening to the beautiful songs contained within it. There are obvious hints of Animals as Leader and T.R.A.M. but with a new twist based on a more melodic approach and arrangements that give the songs a really interesting organic feel. Matt Garstka was in charge of the drum programming, Hector Barez (Calle 13, Bio Ritmo) played percussion, and David Stout (Marvin Gaye, Juan Gabriel, Smokey Robinson) added some stunning trombone lines.

The album opener “Te Mato” and “Menta” are the closest we will get to his previous bands, but here the songs sound like a more focused The Mars Volta. The other three, more minimalistic and less busy, showcase the wide array of sounds and textures that Reyes can create with his guitar, at times making him sound like a more modern Pat Metheny.

Mestis is a more musical, focused, and listenable project than his previous bands. Here, the intentions of Reyes are not to “show off” his guitar skills; instead, he concentrates more on creating a feel and giving the instruments and arrangements space to shine.

While I taste this little appetizer of an ep, I can’t stop thinking about how good the main dish would be.

Basal Ganglia is out now on Sumerian Records.

Tracklist

01. Te Mato

02. Semilla

03. Olvidala

04. Menta

05. Luz y Cielo