ALBUM REVIEW | Chesko – Inside Gen
Madrid-born Chesko is quickly becoming a figure to reckon with amongst the local electro music scene. Born and raised in the Spanish capital, Chesko has spent the past few years developing his own sound, one that pushes past the limits of electro music to merge future bass and touches of alternative bedroom pop together.
After a few collaborations and side projects, Chesko’s long-awaited debut record, Inside Gen, comes out this Friday (April 17).
The album consists of 11 tracks, including collaborations with Rizha, Alltair, DaWave, Avolo, Gabriel Benjamin and Rei. With four singles previously released, the young artist had already made his intentions clear when it came to the music he wanted to put out so I thought I knew what to expect, and yet I was still more than pleasantly surprised when I heard the rest of the record.
The album kicks off with “Rise Up,” the first of his previously released single, and one he considers as a go-to on the album. The record is a journey from beginning to end, and this first track represents the will to fight back instead of letting your mental health destroy you. This glimmer of hope is reinforced in the soft guitar-strumming that introduces the next track, “Maverick” (ft. Rei). I’ve got to admit this track has to be the one that took me by surprise the most, for it’s just about the most soft-pop sounding song Chesko’s ever produced. Rei’s soothing vocals complete the song perfectly as she invites listeners to “rid[e] the waves that are sharper than knives”.
But as the road to acceptance is never easy, the next few tracks transmit other emotions. While “Start Over” (ft. Rizha) talks about the feeling of leaving all behind on teenage years while making you want to jump really hard to it live, “Apart” is softer, and expresses the feeling of being different and isolated because of the condition you’re living with. The fact that it hits so close is most likely the reason why Chesko decided to include, in the same album, a piano-only acoustic rendition of the track, thus showing a more vulnerable side of him, one who “do[esn’t] want to fall apart”. In between those two softer tracks is “Cinco De Mayo,” a track that Chesko had had sitting in his laptop since last year. “That track was an old track I did last year and I was like okay, let me redo the mixing and get it in,” he shared. “It’s not something I usually do but if I didn’t include it in the album, it would have stayed there, which is a shame cause I feel it’s like the typical “album song”. And indeed, Cinco De Mayo comes as real proof of the young artist’s knowledge when it comes to music production. “Twothousandseventeen” and “Out Of Time” are the two other tracks on the album where instrumental is key. Those tracks allow fans, old and new, to really dig deeper into the extent of Chesko’s abilities as a producer.
Sitting in the middle of those two fully-instrumental tracks is “Your Hand In Mine” and its “Interlude”, both being collaborations between Chesko and his management teammate Avolo. While “Your Hand In Mine” quickly rose to my Top 3, the interlude has to be my favorite track of the album, for it shows this is the most tender and bare the Madrilenian has ever let us see him, with its soft piano base that’s softly met with a violin ten seconds in. I’ve got to admit that what struck me the most when I first got the track was its soundwave. From that first peek, I could see the power this song would hold, and it did not disappoint.
Inside Gen takes you on a journey where there is one constant: the piano, the one instrument that was a constant in the life of the classically-trained artist. Chesko had shared the importance of including it throughout his debut album, for it was a chapter of his life, and it turned out to be a beautiful addition and a perfect way to narrate his story. We find the piano again in the last track of the record, the “Outro”. The 1-minute track has Chesko stumbling to find that one chord on his piano, that one way to overcome his anxiety. Once he finds it, he launches into something greater, something happier. The track serves as a beautiful metaphor of how much easier life gets once you learn to accept, embrace and take over your emotions and differences.
As a person struggling with anxiety myself, I was quite skeptic as to how an artist this young was going to convey the journey to accepting your mental health issues through electro music, for it is a genre that rarely lets show any emotions. Yet, he managed to do just that by making the piano the common thread of a stunningly cohesive project. If anything, Inside Gen goes as far as emphasizing Chesko’s will to let his music and sound help people. The album representing a time in his teenage life when he was dealing with anxiety, it opens doors to conversations ranging from loneliness and isolation to newfound hope and acceptance, conversations he encourages his fans to have.
IN A NUTSHELL:
All in all, Inside Gen is one heck of a promising effort that was well worth the wait. This debut record gives Chesko a heads start, showcasing his knowledge and abilities as a producer and giving us a peek into the immense, singular possibilities of the young artist. Although he has experimented with electronic and EDM soundscapes before, the album still feels like uncharted territory on some tracks, a proof that Chesko still has a lot to offer.
- Rise Up (ft. DaWave)
- Maverick (ft. Rei)
- Start Over (ft. Rizha)
- Cinco De Mayo
- Apart – Acoustic
- Your Hand In Mine (Interlude) (ft. Avolo)
- Your Hand In Mine (ft. Avolo & Gabriel Benjamin)
- Out Of Time (ft. Alltair)
Apart, Your Hand In Mine, Rise Up