Uniquely simple, infectious melodies and inventive arrangements create a new sound: melodic indie pop.
AL HIDALGO * CUSP
Al Hidalgo was first introduced to me to me by a studio executive as "a diamond in the rough." After the polishing was completed it became quite apparent he is "a gem of a distinct color."
Within the tones of his eclectic lyrics and melodic sensibility, the raw essence of his influences glows stylistically like that of his mentors.
The arrangements, while difficult to categorize, shape the songs to fit in a cinematic realm, where tonal and structural emphasis match perfectly on the big screen. After repeated play, the flow of the song sequence works flawlessly. As an added bonus, CHARTREUSE and SPHERE (ESFERA) are redone in Spanish (with slightly altered production) to cleverly capture the Hispanic/European market's ear.
Always refreshing to hear new talent that is not lost nor over-shadowed by the music production, in the case of CUSP, producer Robert Runyeon finds a perfect blend of artist vs. artistry. As one of the key players on CUSP, Robert (guitars/percussion) lets the songs speak through the talents of the musicians. Multi-talented player/performers, such as keyboardist/engineer Jeffrey Tutt (a.k.a. Aaron), drummer/vocalist Paul Nienhaus (33 People), studio/session bassist Chad Robinson (a.k.a. Aaron), and Jef Mayer (Magnolia Bolthead) on saxophone, need very little direction. All are studio savvy and the talent blend is apparent. Friends and family (including Al's wife, Julie Hidalgo, who plays castanets on CHARTREUSE and co-wrote SPHERE) are also added to give the production a live feel on SPHERE.
The technical essence from studio engineer Jeffrey Tutt at The Playhouse Creative Workshop is a testament to the art of the digital box. And Refraze Studios' Gary King adds sparkle with his Mastering expertise .
As an award-winning graphic designer, Al has gained notoriety for his artwork on CD projects, promotional art and logo/identity designs for other artists, record labels and entertainment businesses. CUSP packaging, not surprisingly, was designed and developed by Al.
As a total package, Al Hidalgo and CUSP are the real deal. Creative, original songwriting, visual arrangements, polished productions and unique graphic design. A must buy. A must see. A must hear.
Creative Director / Music Reviewer