Hando Aguilar – “Cookies and Cream” explores a musical restlessness

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Electronic rock and indie acoustic singer- songwriter Hando Aguilar believes that music making should be open to everyone and everyone should try it. “I love writing music about mental illness and my struggles finding friendship and love,” he says. “I believe that production does not have to be perfect, and am kinda a rebel, making my music purposely noisy and gritty,” concludes Hando. All of which naturally brings us an eclectic EP such as “Cookies and Cream”, where organic meets electronic, and vocals share spaces with instrumentals.

To be honest, Hando Aguilar has broken boundaries with his unusual hybrid mix of music. He is a different beast altogether, compared to his mainstream contemporaries – musically charged and equipped to brace any musical landscape without pretension or excessive ornamentation. Hando’s music can be stripped down to a rough acoustic-guitar and vocal tandem, sounding like it was recorded in one take in his bathroom, to synthesizer-driven arrangements with cinematic ambitions.

Hando Aguilar

The viscerally raw acoustic aesthetic is easily recognizable within the first two opening tracks, “Sorrow Tomorrow” and “Secret Admirer”. The former track, is simultaneously exhilarating and challenging; a worthwhile, yet strange, adventure, where the vocals are stifled by the guitars motifs, not allowing you to clearly capture the lyrics, hence forcing you to rely on the song’s sonic mood to seize its essence.

“Secret Admirer” is no less curious, in its offhand delivery and unadorned production qualities. This casual approach lends authenticity to the performance, as if Hando Aguilar was singing to a bunch of intimate friends around a campfire. The template flips 180° on “Dream Land”, where the acoustic guitars give way to waves of synth and hard-hitting percussion. The expanded instrumental landscape comes a surprise after the opening tracks, but it grants Hando’s musings extra heft.

Hando Aguilar’s resolute vocals soon provide the glue, between all the musical variation on this EP, with “Indie Rock Band”, which comprises a stoic melodic incantation and vivid storytelling. An emphasis on meter and a conversational lilt instantly establish Hando as the natural songwriter he is. Ardent guitar, synth and drum arrangements, with revitalizing vigor, intensify the drama.

“I LUV U” brings another about-turn sonically, in an airy and wistful electronic instrumental that steadily builds in intensity and expansiveness. The harmonious tones house deceptively sweet sentiments and a rustic groove. This is followed by “Soft Sounds”, which is exactly what the title describes, with delicate ambient pads weaving around an enduring central theme. “Untitled Groove” harbors angular retro synths and an insistent beat. It underpins understated dancefloor jubilance, and passages that swell with tension and release.

“Cookies and Cream” frequents a contrasting sonic plane, venturing boldly into discordant territory at every turn. Hando Aguilar jangles his electro-rock spurs in one instance, then proceeds with his acoustic singer-songwriter persona the next. In-between, he finds time to deliver lyrics which are characteristically disarming, meticulously insightful, and at times poignant. The EP explores a musical restlessness that can only be found in walking through life and experiencing a multitude of things.

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