Review originally published 11.12.21 on Full Time Aesthetic.
Ernesto Hex’s Stellar Vista is a dynamic and adventurous record, offering many danceable beats mixed in with the occasional melancholic moment. Written during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stellar Vista alludes to some of the world’s darker days while still managing to create a limitless dreamscape.
Stellar Vista is comprised of eight songs and clocks in at 34 minutes and 19 seconds, with songs averaging around 4-5 minutes in length. Hex does an excellent job at creating songs that contain varied and unique tones, even throughout a single track, which is quite impressive. The album is opens and closes with songs that are upbeat and danceable, starting with “Babetown USA,” and ending with “Ultra.” Between those two tracks are six songs that shape Stellar Vista into a funky and enjoyable listen with plenty of moments for reflection, longing, and escape.
The album opens with “Babetown USA,” a summery anthem-type song that is quick to draw in the listener with extremely catchy synth and a chorus about looking into the eyes of the person you’re with and having them look right back at you. “Summer! Summer!/We’re cruisin’ Babetown USA/Stunner! Stunner!/Court-side seats so we’re on display/I look in your eyes, you look in mine too/You wanna rule the world?/I’d fucking love to!” fills the song’s chorus and is perfectly sing-along-able. Danceable and airy, “Babetown USA” is not only super fit for summer but also makes a welcome listen in the cooler months of winter when a track like this is needed to brighten the day.
The title track is the second song on the album and offers a more surreal experience, leaning heavily into synths and two kinds of vocal styles—slow and more serious in the beginning and then higher-pitched towards the end. Reflecting on tracking order, it also makes sense to place the title track right after the faster-paced opener to show the listener that this album is not going to be at all homogenous. There are several different themes and styles incorporated cohesively throughout the album that make it quite an enjoyable and refreshing listen. Given that this record was created during the pandemic, it is also worth noting that Hex did an excellent job at creating a body of work that manages to provide great breathability rather than solely reflecting upon the despair of the times. There is a bit of melancholy to be found in “Edge of the World,” though, as the song closes with a heightened repetition of “Now the world is on fire” after more slowly reflecting on the passage of time.
Ernesto Hex (photo by Thomas Kater)
For only being eight songs long, Stellar Vista does not rely too heavily on any one theme. Songs such as “Riley” and “More Than Yesterday” cover topics of love, with the former track being the funkier of the two and the latter serving more straightforward rock n’roll with guitars and keyboards. “OD on Sunshine” is a song about being out in the sun a little too long and “Children of the Night” offers some contrast with lyrics about how “the walls can hear you.”
The album closes with “Ultra,” a futuristic and upbeat song that features the use of robotic vocals and a complex combination of keyboards, synth, drumming, and guitar. “Don’t ever forget the ones who got you here” sings Hex along to an upbeat tempo that is just begging to be danced to. This song is about honoring your roots while not letting the world turn aimlessly and is an absolutely outstanding end to the record.
Stellar Vista is an ambitious and beautiful record that proves Ernesto Hex to be an extremely talented and original voice in music. Listen to it on a bright summer day, a cold winter night, in the middle of a pandemic, or anywhere, really.
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Stellar Vista is out now via self release and is available on all streaming platforms.