Private Playlist: Frankie Reyes marries technology with tradition

Frankie Reyes. Photo by Jesús Iñiguez

Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments.

Frankie Reyes is one of the myriad creative aliases of Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker, an electronic polymath who has also recorded as Gifted & Blessed (GB), Julian Abelar, The Reflektor, Abstract Eye, and more. As Frankie Reyes, he draws broadly upon his Puerto Rican heritage for elegant minimalist interpretations of traditional music. His most recent release is 2020’s “Originalitos” on Stones Throw, who also released Reyes-Whittaker’s music as The Steoples with vocalist Yeofi Andoh. The hyper-prolific producer also runs his own imprint, (fittingly) called GIFTED & BLESSED.

For this edition of Private Playlist, Frankie Reyes spins the music that influenced his own discipline of “techno-indigenous studies,” including tracks by Mort Garson, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and Steve Roach.

“The world is endless; the music doesn’t stop.” — Frankie Reyes

FRANKIE REYES: When I went over the songs that are really drawing me in these days, I always like to tell people that the theme that I go for is something I call "techno-indigenous studies." That's a marriage between the technological or modern with the indigenous or traditional. As that pertains to what I'm listening to right now, [it's] music from different parts of the world translating modern technology, or the other way around, modern technology translating music from different parts of the world. I'm coming across a lot of pretty interesting stuff these days that I would categorize that way. 


Many years ago, a close friend of mine, Operator X — who is very much into the techno and electronic music scene from around the world — introduced this song to me. It's quite an interesting piece of music, [and] something that really inspired a lot of the way I'm thinking about electronic instruments these days too. 


Hiroshi Yoshimura is an ambient composer from Japan whose music I've been following over the years. This is something he did in the mid-'80s from an album called "Flora." It's a beautiful piece of music. 


We're going to be speaking about weird electronic music this whole time, but another very strange composer I'm a fan of would be Mort Garson. He's a real interesting [and] creative electronic musician. A lot of the time, people compare my Frankie Reyes releases to Garson's sound: a way of using these weird synthesizers to make almost contemporary classical music. This [track] is kind of cool, because he's pointing at island music with this composition.


Steve Roach is one of my favorite electronic musicians, and also a friend of mine. The thing that's really interesting about this piece in particular is that it's a marriage between the ambient space synth that he's known for, and his Australian [Aboriginal] Dreamtime concept music. That's really what this is about: it's kind of an homage to Australia.


"Lazy Raga" is another really beautiful marriage of electronic ambience with sample-based Indian raga music. Roberto Musci is one of my favorite musicians who's done a lot of music that is, in essence, a combination of electronic music with folkloric music from different parts of the world, but he's from Italy himself. Just real fascinating stuff. The world is endless; the music doesn't stop.

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