Sam GO – Gringo

I never did take a gap year. I convinced myself that I’d find time to roam the world once college life ended. But then work got in the way; debts needed to be paid and I became a fully signed-up member of the rat race.

So, it’s with a mix of grudging respect and latent envy that today, on Sonic Breakfast, I bring you the music of Sam GO. Young, vibrant and possessed with the capacity to head down to Peru for a year once his high school no longer needed him, Sam has now released Gringo, essentially a concept album about his trip. And what a trip it appears to be. This is a tale of narcissistic adventure, of nearly fucking your head up in pursuit of enlightenment and living to tell the story. 

Sam’s detailed bio is one of the most entertaining I’ve read in a long while. I’ll let him pick up his story.. 

“With high school out of the way, I fled to South America for a six month stint as an ESL teacher in Lima, Peru, which would change my entire outlook on the world, right?

Wrong, because of course teaching sucked; it required passion as well as knowledge, passion that just couldn’t compete with my indulgent, probably-faux brooding. On my final day as a teacher, I performed what I felt would resemble a heartfelt goodbye to a small group of students whose names totally escaped me (I’m an asshole who didn’t even know the names of the kids who had allegedly changed my life).  So, disillusioned with the whole humanitarian thing, I left my fraudulent husk of a teaching career to drink potent hallucinogenic tea with a shaman.

I guzzled, puked, and shat ayahuasca on loop for about month, apparently gaining some profound personal insight and taming the relentlessly self-effacing narcissism that had wreaked such psychic havoc in those distant, feeble-minded pre-ayahuasca days. While I did relish in that glowing post-ceremonial condescension that typically accompanies anyone in the beginning stages of a spiritual tradition, I viciously swerved back into my self-deprecating proclivities once I caught myself saying things like , “as a child of the cosmos” and “having risen above the apes.”

I’ve been spending much of this week listening to Gringo. I’ll wager a bet that it didn’t appear in many top 50 albums of the year lists and that’s a travesty. If you’re a fan of Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal then it won’t take you many listens to get where this record is coming from. Others might need to give it a few more chances to grow on them.

It’s literate, indulgent, soulful and impossible to pigeon-hole. It’s poetical pop in which the melodies don’t take obvious routes but end up making entire sense. It plays with my head in the way that the better records from Prince or Beck do. There’s more than enough within Gringo to suggest that Sam GO should indulge himself in more gap years. 

I look forward to the next instalment.



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