Posted on June 7th, 2011 (11:00 am) by Clayton Williamson

What do you get when you mix an original set of intense orchestral backing tracks with awkward raps from an otherwise talented musician? You get The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales, out today from the Arts & Crafts label, an album doomed to mediocrity thanks to the hubris of its overactive creator.

The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales contains no drum machines, loops or synths, using only authentic recordings of an orchestra playing unique material for Gonzales to spit rhymes on top of. Before your head explodes into a ray of sunshine, don’t believe this musical hybrid pulls off some radical innovation of hip-hop, as its combination of classical and rap isn’t quite as clever as Gonzales wants you believe. With his adenoid-heavy vocals and English teacher enunciations, his rapping can quickly grate your nerves.

Though the Canadian-born Gonzales (a.k.a. Jason Charles Beck) is a prolific pianist, songwriter and producer (collaborating with the likes of Feist and Peaches), he asked his accomplished film score-composing brother Christophe Beck to create most of the music for Unspeakable, thus likely creating the world’s first classical rap album. The big problem with this concept is that the orchestral music is FAR too good to be wasted on inane raps about being a “musical maxi-pad”. It’s like a toddler defacing a wonderful painting with a boxful of crayons.

To his credit, Gonzales tries to be honest throughout Unspeakable, going through several tracks worth of self-depreciating lyrics focused on boredom, doubt and an ennui afforded only by the trappings of Western civilization. On “Different Kind of Prostitute”, I can appreciate his feelings toward money and the wish for his gigs to generate income, as he’s pushing 40 and knows that indie cred alone doesn’t pay the bills. Still, when he’s got a song called “Who Wants to Hear This?” it’s hard to believe that even Gonzales finds these tunes enjoyable.

So why such a high score for The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales? Christophe Beck’s musical contribution is dramatic, evocative work, albeit probably the cheesier scraps from his extensive portfolio. Nevertheless, find the instrumental versions of these pieces, because this film-caliber score deserves so much more than the face palms inspired by the 7th grade jokes of “Self Portrait”. Hate to be one of your haters, Gonzales, but I’ll have to agree with your closing track.

Track List

1. Supervillain Music
2. Self Portrait
3. Party in My Mind
4. Different Kind of Prostitute
5. Rap Race
6. Beans
7. Bongo Monologue
8. Who Wants to Hear This?
9. Shut Up and Play the Piano
Bonus Tracks
10. Different Kind of Prostitute (Instrumental)
11. Self Portrait (Instrumental)
12. Beans (Instrumental)
13. Who Wants to Hear This? (Instrumental)
14. Supervillain Music (Instrumental)

Chilly Gonzales: The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

59 / 100
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