A unique musical project started by multi-instrumentalist and self-taught producer, Jonathan Gabriel Jr., ExxoStack is arguably one of the most evolved and innovative outlets we’ve encountered in recent years. After first surfacing in early 2016 when Jonathan decided to return to his roots, ExxoStack has become a dynamic musical vehicle, one where he can express his music and creative whims without limitations or compromise.
With a wealth of unfinished solo material from his younger years and a newfound passion to bring them to life, Jonathan has spent the last few years in a creative fervour, rebuilding his catalogue and seamlessly blending it with some stark modern aesthetics. While we first glimpsed the immersive experimental sounds of ExxoStack his early singles ‘NeoPallium’ and ‘Cloud’, it’s his debut EP, ‘Ostinatopia’ that really makes its mark, shining a light on five dark, intoxicating and undeniable progressive rock cuts.
Inspired by the works of Vince DiCola and Yanni, ExxoStack’s sound has been gradually evolving from a stark semi-industrial and progressive metal project to a more expansive musical endeavour, one that incorporates influences from new-age pop to folk, rock, and even technical death metal. The result is an unparalleled listening experience, one that demands to be heard and fights hard to break the mould every chance it gets.
Opening with ‘Lore’, the EP casts an immediate and evocative sound, one that forms through a cascade of textured strings and piano keys that are balanced perfectly by a sweeping, central melody. Wonderfully cinematic and orchestral in nature, the opening single is a perfect introduction to ‘Ostinatopia’, beginning a bright, invigorating journey through the modern music scene that embodies a sense of mysticism and brilliance. In second cut ‘Mosaic’, ExxoStack explores more textured folk influences, standing firm with a rustic opening piece that slowly transitions into a quiet stream of isolated tones. A gorgeous blend of haunting, yet peaceful sounds that extend into an infinite space, ‘Mosaic’ is a gorgeous example of ExxoStack’s talents as a songwriter and storyteller.
As ‘Mosaic’ fades and ‘Intelligent Design’ emerges, ExxoStack creates a seamless transition, building on the same sense of serenity, while also exploring more open creative spaces. Infused with more electronic and pop influences that imbue the song with a rousing sense of triumph, ‘Intelligent Design’ is arguably one of the most aptly titled tracks of recent years, and it’s an absolute joy to hear. As the final two compositions begin, the highlights and magical moments continue, and ‘Winds’ sweeps you away in an instant, assembling itself from a charming string of acoustic chords that are as expressive as they are tactile. One of the most enchanting pieces on the EP, ‘Winds’ revels in free form aesthetic and shifting focal points, making its mark with an easy organic sound. As ‘Winds’ falls to silence, all eyes are on ‘Nostalgia’, the sublime closing piece and inspired cover of Yanni’s classic 1986 single. A perfectly titled encapsulation of the EP, ‘Nostalgia’ offers more ambient, familiar tones that are full of heart and soul. Anchored by shimmering piano keys, gorgeous strings and flourishes of neo-classical brilliance, it’s a closing piece that ebbs and flows beautifully, finishing the musical journey with a pure and magnificent sound.
A musical odyssey in five parts, ‘Ostinatopia’ is beautifully composed and executed, creating a mystic sound that matches the cover art perfectly. While less than twenty minutes in length, the ground it covers is truly incredible, and the depth of sound, artistry, and emotion within is simply second to none. A release that perfectly illustrates ExxoStack’s many, many talents, ‘Ostinatopia’ is as close to flawless as a debut EP could possibly be. Tune in to the EP above, and make sure you keep an eye for the release of his upcoming full-length album which is set for release in the near future.
Along with ExxoStack, Jonathan is also an avid fan of traditional comic books and graphic novels and works from time to time as an illustrator.
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