Herman Martinez - Secret Doors Hidden Stairs: Season 2 - Stereo Stickman

Herman Martinez Secret Doors Hidden Stairs: Season 2


It’s been two years since I first stumbled upon Herman Martinez’ music and reviewed his album Solopsi RadioRather than delve back into the old tracks though, I took to listening to this with fresh ears and an open mind – which, it turns out, makes for the best experience possible. We get so bogged down with comparisons – between artists, between the past and the present – music doesn’t really need any of that; it just needs you to hear it.

Season Premiere kicks this latest project off and creates an ambient, epic soundscape around you – a reverb soaked, slightly oriental feeling riff meanders alongside of a dramatic yet mellow-paced rhythm section. Gradually, as the instrumentation multiples, the intensity rises, the drums kick in with the fire of a live performance, and these ongoing riffs quickly become hypnotic and easy to escape among.

More than simply a songwriter, Martinez builds his compositions around you, so when the vocals finally appear, they offer merely the benefit of language in directing an otherwise freely creative journey. The latter half of this opening track sees the sounds fade and distort quite significantly, the vocals appear chaotically intertwined, emotional and occasionally lost in the echo of the moment. When the regular verse returns, there’s something comforting about its sudden simplicity and clarity.

Emerther is another that takes its time to hit. Martinez offers a series of ambient, organic guitar-driven rock backdrops on this project. In addition, his lyrics and his vocal deliveries pour poetic thoughtfulness into the mix – creating a sound that you soon come to recognise as his. There’s something very intriguing or mysterious yet still heartfelt and reflective about this particular song.

Walk away, disappear with me…

Paracosm adds a flicker of optimism and colour, which suits Martinez’ vocal style in a surprisingly beautiful way. His choice of effects and the way he crafts his melodies gives a definite sense of identity to his sound. This song is a personal highlight, it feels honest, vulnerable even, but hopeful and strangely uplifting in its soulful creativity. Pareidolia afterwards drives with the simple strum of an acoustic guitar, adding eclecticism but still keeping the considerate mood at the forefront of the experience. Once again, the soundscape builds, brick by brick. A stunning instrumental journey unfolds.

Magic Squares fuses pretty guitar work with a notably grunge-like vocal melody – the drone of higher notes followed by the fallen ones at the end of each verse line creates a familiar vibe. In contrast, the hook rises up even higher, though still it falls back down at the end. The expression runs deep, not merely letting the lyrics tell the story, but letting every aspect of the performance scream it out to you.

Passion and beauty intertwine on Apartment 10 – a cascading guitar part is met by a similarly wandering melody, and once more Martinez pours his soul and story into the performance. This track is uniquely structured and makes for another personal highlight for its back and forth between delicacy and emotional weight. Secret Identity follows and creates a sense of anticipation – a gorgeously organic soundscape appears, alongside of one of the best melodies of the project. I was reminded of the days of MTV unplugged – the great rock legends who took to the stage to break their songs down to the bare essentials, in a totally entrancing way. Another favourite.

The Gardener is a song with a fascinating story-line that holds tight to your attention. The acoustic feel of the music makes the artist’s raspy voice stand out in a softly powerful manner. John Travoltrons Theme afterwards offers a level of intrigue and a simple backdrop that slowly but surely, and stylishly, begins to find its feet. The fusion of instruments here is brilliantly unexpected and continuously interesting – right the way through to the manic and explosive latter half. Season Finale follows and offers an upbeat vibe that takes you down a colourful, seemingly optimistic pathway. The distorted and the delicate join forces once again.

By all accounts, Herman Martinez makes music because these sounds and ideas come naturally to him. The result of this is always a journey that’s impossible to predict, but that satisfies, that entertains, and that allows you to escape your reality for a while. This project showcases a fair few impressive moments.

Secret Doors Hidden Stairs: Season 2 was produced by Ahmed Mahmoud & features Hank Yaghooti on live drums. Find & follow Herman Martinez on Facebook & Soundcloud

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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