September 29, 2012

NEW TRACK: Duende (Gap x Nimbus 9) - "Ugly"

It’s disheartening to know that “Ugly” will never get the airplay it deserves because most listeners will find its glumness off-putting. It lacks the noise and gimmickry that mainstream hiphop thrives on, its pair of MCs shrugging off any cheap word battle or jarring guest verses. The simplicity of its production is its most prominent trait, highlighted by the problems that Gap and Nimbus9 had in recording it. As mentioned on Duende’s Soundcloud page:

This is our first song, recorded around 2010. Unfortunately, we lost all the raw files so we didn't get to do the final mix and master. This track had attracted so much negative energy that we both got into fistfights and encountered some bullshit drama days after it was recorded. Even the hard drive couldn't take its negative vibe that it just broke. But it’s cool though. Listen, learn and hopefully you change the ugly in you.

Suffice it to say, Gap and Nimbus9 know the difference between mindless arrogance and strong attitude. They lay out their narratives with as little embellishment as possible, emphasizing the grim stories they tell rather than have them overshadowed by a quicksand of chorus and samples. “Ugly” provides both artists with a more defined direction, one that gives them the license to kill without taking their hoodies off.

The dark mood created by the pounding beat and ominous piano, aided by the occasional pauses, is quite consuming, but it only intensifies the violent atmosphere triggered by the lyrics. When Gap raps “Cursin’ the heavens for the life that I lead” and “It sucks to be around so it’s vital to move on,” there is no-nonsense sentimentality—he puts his domestic torment at the center and expects nothing in return, no warm hugs and no kind words, enunciating “yuck” with delicious contempt.

On the other hand, Nimbus9 continues the flow and tells his story with the same temperament. He speaks of hunger and the “feeling of being eaten alive.” He’s “no longer dreaming of seeing whatever’s out there.” He’s as frustrated about the world as Gap is, exasperated by the injustice of the world, resigned but enlightened.

What brings their verses together is a chorus that resembles nothing but a kind of humming gibber, a brooding layer that seems to enclose the track in thick white smoke. Gap and Nimbus9 take a rest and wait until it boils, two brilliant minds keeping their rage in clenched fists, letting their voice heard only when needed. “Ugly” is a confessional of many unpleasant things about living in this country, but one that is soberly moving, its understated production values complementing it so well. Only time can tell how important this release is to local music, as it’s a reminder of scary good things to come. - Richard Bolisay

September 28, 2012

NEW TRACK: KJah - "Sunggab"

Unlike other local MCs who rose to Fliptop prominence, KJah’s brand of hiphop distances away from his big-tent, rap Battalia persona, unclothing such excesses with lyrical complexity that is at once street-savvy observant and gritty. On the new track ‘Sunggab”, he raps over a Childish Gambino beat with a speedy blast of hurtling urban poetry.

It’s impossible to pull your ears away from this intellectually astute deathblow, especially with spit-fire lines that put to a length the wordsmith meaning in hiphop's sometimes-annoying culture of braggadocio. He takes pride and spits, “Simulan mo ng magsulat, mas mahapdi ang tama kesa sa itak, pag buka ko ng bibig ang apoy rumatrat, mala-bala ang ragasa nasa aking pag talak.” And we’re left with our mouths open, trying to figure out where that zing of a fly came from. Download here and stream it below:

September 27, 2012

NEW TRACK: Ace Cada - "Salat"

Some of the best folk music I know skews storytelling from life observations, conveying an emotional connection that is personal and universal, yet not afraid to reek of truthfulness that exposes the vulnerable side of mankind. Bagetsafonik’s Ace Cada surrenders himself to this vow. On “Salat,” he attempts to wring something important and compelling out of other people’s stories, tying it with hushed, stripped down acoustics that bring to mind a more somber Noel Cabangon with a bit of Nick Drake forayed in the backdrop. With the help of Shao Masula on songwriting duties, he stands behind the song with the belief that music is a powerful catalyst of social awareness that can reach to as many people as it could, but also careful not to sound righteous in an evangelical kind of way.

Stream the track below and tell us what you think about it.

September 26, 2012

PINNED: Similar Objects

Say what you will about Jorge Wieneke, but his prolific and ever-expansive production portfolio for his electronic/instrumental hiphop project Similar Objects bears the imprint of a rad beatmaker who doesn’t want to get tied on a certain level of comfort, exploring and evolving where others were left sticking to a signature sound and style. And that’s not to include the diverse string of releases posted every week on his Soundcloud page. Placed somewhere between astral futurism and traditional Zen, Jorge leaves us with a body of work that has a tendency to shun the entire world for a stab at a more intimate, introverted prestige—using abstracted moodscapes, chopped beats, scraps ,glitches, and samples to create a sanctuary that shelters our feelings about life and humanly connection.

Talking about his new beat tape Synchronicity Is The Norm, Jorge sat down with Vandals On The Wall to reveal everything that we’re curious about: music that inspired him, future music projects, and work ethic.

Q: It seems like you’re working at the height of your creative bandwidth now. At the rate of how things are going, you already have 13 releases all in all—ranging from interesting to something sweeping and exemplary. How do you maintain such discipline and musicianship? 
I wouldn’t know if I’m at the height of my creative bandwidth but I know for sure that nowadays, for some reason, I feel more "supercharged”—if that makes any sense. Well, I do agree that it takes discipline to actually sit down and create something and stick it through ‘til the end of that idea. it never always was like that for me. 

But nowadays, that's all I really do. I rarely leave my bedroom. Most of the time, I'm locked up in my room listening to records, chopping up samples, exploring different methods of creating and manipulating sound. If not that then I’m prolly just reading a book or meditating. Meditation helps me keep myself grounded, helps me tame my mind and concentrate on my ideas and manifesting them into reality. I think the musicianship part of it just follows. 

Q: “2: Bonsai Kids” was featured in Pitchfork exactly two years ago. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first Filipino-made track that scored a feature from the popular music site. How do you feel about getting recognized internationally by music blogs and the like? 
 I was told by a number of people that I indeed was the "First Filipino on Pitchfork" but it never really blew me away or anything. Some people ask me why I never mention it or talk about it, i just think it’s not that big of a deal. I appreciate the fact that my music was out there and a site so credible as pitchfork stumbled on it and gave it a chance, but back then, I was just concerned with making music and letting out what it was in my mind. I remember checking Pitchfork that day and seeing myself there though and that for me was a little bit surreal since I used to frequent that site. 

I like hearing out people's opinions on music and I think blogs are a perfect platform for that because it’s not influenced by any external organizations trying to maintain some sort of control and all that political crap going on with other forms of publications. These sites are run by people who love and listen to music, so I appreciate the fact that these are genuine aficionados writing about music and sharing their opinions for the love of it and nothing else. It means a lot to me that tons of blogs from across the globe are taking interest in my music though it still comes quite of a shock to me that my music has made that sort of connection. I am more than thankful to be where i am now. 

Q: I hear a lot of Flying Lotus, Madlib, Burial, Aphex Twins and J Dilla in your music. Are you directly inspired by these people? I mean these guys are responsible for pushing the boundaries of electronic and hiphop music to a black hole of possibilities. 
Hmmm? I wouldn’t actually say that I’m directly influenced by anyone. These are all just part of a huge list of things that have paved the way for how I deal with things. Not just musically though. But these cats definitely played a huge role for me at one point of my life. These dudes made me realize that there was a world of music inside of me waiting to be revealed. And it wasn't impossible to work on these things alone. 

Q: Finding Astral Lovers is a personal favorite of mine because there’s a slight cuff of ethnic music to it and has that organic, home-bound appeal that emits the “Filipino flavor” missing in most electronic music project these days. How about you? What’s your favorite SO record? 
 FAL is definitely still one of my favorites. Making that was truly a journey for me, and I can still remember how I felt as I was creating that, every time I hear it. Each song in that record really meant a lot to me so it really holds its place as one of the most meaningful to me. I still enjoy listening to it when I do get to listen. I personally like the ethnic flavor; it reminds me of where I’m from. 

Q: Are you planning to drop a vocal-heavy record sometime in the future? I mean you’ve worked with RH Xanders and June Marieezy before, and judging from some of your more traditional pop materials such as “Booth Bitch” and the How To Dress Well-ish “Mimimomomumu,” I know you’d be able to pull off a crossover. 
Hahaha! About that I don’t see it as impossible. And honestly I've been thinking about it a lot more often than before. I used to sing a lot and I think it's just a matter of time before I actually muster up enough courage and confidence to do it. I still enjoy singing a lot. Not sure if I'm ready to put in record yet though. We’ll see. I just go where the creative energy takes me. 

Q: Any local artists you want to collaborate with? 
 Too many. Haha! Sometimes, I wish I was more than one person so I could get on that collab with everyone already. I'm looking to collab with a bunch of singers, instrumentalists and emcees. I won’t mention ‘em for now. I'd love to keep it a surprise. Also looking to collaborate with a bunch of fellow beatmakers! 

Q: You have a new beat tape out called Synchronicity is the Norm. How is it any different from the materials you’ve released so far? 
SITN is a collection of beats I’ve made out of chopping records, screwing them up and adding some synths and basslines. It’s made mostly on just the SP404. All my past songs were crafted on a laptop while this record was made all on just one sampler. It’s a different experience for me working on a sampler. It’s more intimate. You sorta build a deeper connection with the records. I listen to a whole record on a turntable; hook it up to the SP, then chop away. It’s fun. Each chop and sample comes to me differently depending on how I hear it; hence, synchronicity. I don’t believe in coincidences. These records don't just pop out of nowhere, I feel like they make their way to me somehow. 

Q: I hear a lot of nu-soul pastiches in Synchronicity is the Norm. It’s more laid-back and urban, with a tinge of Zen philosophy incorporated in it. Is there a conscious effort to sound different from one release to another? 
I honestly don’t really think about it. I never wake up and declare a change in sound. It just happens. Well, it’s also a matter of how I feel. I think we’re all ever changing and I’m just embracing the feeling of evolution. It also depends on what’s going on around me during the time. A lot my music reflects what I’m going through as well, internally and externally. 

Q: Five years from now, do you still see yourself as an electronic music producer making music for yourself or for other people? 
I've always seen myself as a creator even when in the beginning of all this, people would tell me otherwise. Music has been with me as long as I've lived and I don't think i can ever imagine myself not making music. So I'm definitely still gonna be making music as long as I’m able to, I'm taking it with me to the grave and beyond. 

Similar Objects’ Synchronicity Is The Norm is now available online. Cop a free copy here.

September 25, 2012

NEW TRACK: Love Never Dies - "Normal Song" (Perfume Genius Cover)

Steering away from the heavenly drones of “Ascension” and the muddled rhythms of “To Here Knows When,” Love Never Dies decides to lie back and cover “Normal Song,” one of the highlights from Perfume Genius’ second album, Put Your Back N 2 It. Frankly, the gesture is nothing much but a display of admiration for Mike Hadreas, and it succeeds at that. Vocalist Karlo Cleto is able to capture the mournful pull of Hadreas’ voice, with a piano in lo-fi and a misty atmosphere, the tone sounding close to a sad surrender of a drowning man. His version is frail but it never crumbles, diligently echoing the original because there's no other reason not to. Hold someone’s hand as you listen to this. - Richard Bolisay

September 23, 2012

NEW TRACK: Nights Of Rizal - "Passport (For Your Love)"

“Do I need a passport to be where you are? Do I need an ID for you to wanna know me,” croons Migi de Belen, the man behind the electronic music project, Nights of Rizal. A fair stray from his usually contemplative, synth-driven electronica, Nights of Rizal gets generously groovy this time around, pounding the dance floor with guiltless four-to-the-floor thump. The playful lyrics work seamlessly with the loose rhythms and infectious beats, its simplicity coaxing you to get lost in its clubby Eurodance garniture. This ‘modern day danceable harana’ is perfect for pulling a cheeky, yet adorable move to that girl now. So boys, strut this shamelessly and blast it in full volume. - Mary Christine Galang

NEW VIDEO: Mecha Hell - "Assault"

Brimming with wobbly bass and laser-bomb, dubstep-y effects, Mecha Hell’s “Assault” is nothing short of massive. It’s an earful of ra-ta-tat drums uproar, Megatron samples, and plangent 2-step, sieved in a woozy jam that smacks you in for a head banging experience. Incorporating Oriental-lite keys in the lines of Skrillex’s infamous "Kyoto” and a recall of Skream’s “Vacillate”, Mecha Hell isn’t wasting any opportunity for sloppy or anticlimactic turns. However, there are brief moments that could have used less shrill and a bit more bass, but on second thought, this is why the track is called “Assault” in the first place.

Check out the Kat De Jesus-directed video featuring Patty Tiu as the svelte chick gone deranged. - Mary Christine Galang

September 22, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Sleepyheads - "God's Lonely Man"

After churning out catchy jangly pop anthems that linger around themes of loserdom, social alienation and meaninglessness of the world, we kind of expected “God’s Lonely Man” to fit in the same bill, poking fun at the miserablist feeling while embracing Jonathan Richman-meets-Velvet Underground lo-fi claustrophobia like it’s 2005. But lo and behold, they’ve worn something different this time, grinding on the walls of guitar distortion and noise for a slightly different direction.

“God’s Lonely Man,” the new track off The Sleepyheads’ upcoming record SEE-SAW to be released next month, sounds more like a noise-pop reincarnation than a return to old form; melting such familiar themes we’ve grown accustomed to in a distant, abstractly pained haze. But this time, it’s done with tongue-in-cheek sensibility and a hint of comic satire, wrapped up with a video of a porn-worshipping, pathetic chub basking in his own little, miserable world of glossy babe posters and adult magazines. Watch their NSFW video below:

NEW TRACK: Yolanda Moon - "73"

It’s been quite a year for Yolanda Moon. In a span of 6 months, they’ve quickly ascend into buzz band status, eventually landing them a deal with Manila-based indie label, Terno Recordings. The success, I believe has something to do with the songs posted in their Soundcloud page and how these packets of tease were turned into a gold mine from its early incarnations as demo tracks. Those sparsely crafted, stripped down compositions punctuated with nuance and detail, send chills every damn time you listen to it, taking their jabs from every great artist in their timeline—from Stevie Wonder to Conor Oberst.

Their new track “73” marks another solid turn into their songcraft, committed rigorously on crafting earnest folk-pop music that is less about ambition, and more on heart and soul. While not as game-changing as first single “Small Talk,” it validates Yolanda Moon’s knack for heartsick ballads, that when consigned to a subdued but transcendent performance, can lead into a gravitating piece of work that’s just beautiful beyond words. Stream it below:

September 21, 2012

NEW TRACK: Low Leaf - "June Gloom"

Low Leaf will be releasing her acoustic project Alchemizing Dawn sometime next month, and is expected to bring that earthy artifice of hers to a sparser, more  impressionistic turn. Those who aren't acquainted with her music yet might find it too eclectic and challenging to listen to, teeming with delightfully skewed weirdness that braids childlike whimsy with bohemianism and a bit of Kate Bush. But everything she's released so far  brims with wickedly mapped out ideas that veer away from the conventional. 

 Her first single “June Gloom” off that forthcoming EP shares this artifice: a pastoral lullaby that’s so inviting and odd that it trumps the lack of any real structure by just flowing wherever the direction takes it. In a whispery coo that begins to flutter and waft after the first minute of playing nothing but a plucked harp in the background, Low Leaf stays optimistic despite having a bad month. “Oh june gloom, june gloom… It’ll be alright,” she spits out those stray thoughts with buoyancy, ready to move on with what’s left in her hand, in all its lightweight grace. Stream the track below:


September 16, 2012

NEW TRACK: Dash Calzado Feat. Shirley Fuentes x B-Roc - "Illegitimate Kingz"

The curious thing about “Illegitimate Kingz” is that Dash Calzado is obviously not in a hurry. Before unleashing a fistful of rhymes and rhythm, he waits a minute and a half, letting the listener eavesdrop on a conversation about snares and sounds, smoothing the vibe through a drift of funky beats, drums, and horns. The moment he raps he pounds with a certain confidence, one that avoids overemphasis on words but sticks instead to keeping a nice flow, cutting down on lyrical excesses as much as possible.

B-Roc, on the other hand, spits bars with a relaxed mix of English and Filipino, receiving the ball from Dash and spinning it on his fingers. But on top of their smacking verses, there's a surprise serving: one that comes from Shirley Fuentes, providing the song with a sultry hook in the chorus. Who would have thought the 90s sexy actress had it in her? She makes the track simmer with sunshine, as if blowing a kiss when she sings. Go ahead and give "Illegitimate Kingz" a listen. It surely takes a while before it cools down. - Richard Bolisay


September 15, 2012

NEW TRACK: Skies of Ember - "Headlights"

Filipino dark wavers Skies of Ember takes us once again into a druggy haze of ambient swoon via their new single “Headlights.” Built from reverb-laden, slurry guitars that move in prom dance pace, the track finds frontman Dott Seki drifting off a shoegaze squall, his vocals—washed in ocean waves, wandering, helplessly searching for answers only distance and space could figure out at the right time. He moans in blurs and echoes, “I ask myself, is it worth it? Is it worth it? is it worth the try?” And suddenly, every word gets buried by a white guitar noise, wiping everything that’s been said into a thin fizz of air.

Check it here:

NEW TRACK: Nicholas Lazaro - "All Red"

Via Facebook, Twin Lobster’s Nicholas Lazaro has recently announced his interest of releasing a solo project in the near future, with the iPhone 4-shot video for his first single “All Red” already making rounds in the interwebs since Tuesday. Based from first few listens, you’ll hear echoes of his main band TL, for sure, but the slimy bit of electronic textures and fuzzy synths adds an entirely different dimension to his layered, melodic indie rock sound—much more than what you’d expect from a side project. Check it:

September 12, 2012

NEW TRACK: The Strangeness - "Ramblin' Man"

No. This isn’t a cover of a Hank Williams Sr. song bearing the same title, but more of an attempt to rewrite the good old Southern heartbreaker into something as equally honest and compelling as the point of reference. The Strangeness pays tribute to the stoner sentimentalist by way of lo-fi, mellowed-out guitar jammery in which Francis Cabal intones, “it’s a force of habit, when you want something you grab it” while pouring his soul with a dad-rock disguise. It’s an understatedly disarming performance that doesn’t really need any embellishment in it, because for all we know—a song this clear and simple, with a voice that’s just breathtaking in its most despairing moments—is more than enough to get you through your saddest days. Stream this new jam by The Strangeness below:

September 11, 2012

NEW TRACK: Cara Manglapus - "Gone" (Produced by JDG)

Newcomer Cara Manglapus stands out among the new-fangled pack of aspiring recording artists posting their stuff in the interwebs. Her voice—characterized by sultriness and foreboding smoothness—strikes familiarity somewhere between Kyla and Yosha, pulling you closer into its mesmeric lace.

Few weeks ago, she hooked up with Deeper Manila’s Justin De Guzman for a smoketastic, jazzy pop number designed with coffee shop minimalism in mind. The result of this unlikely collab is nothing short of fantastic: JDG gives his new muse some sense of heartbeat-steady space that taps over laidback rhythms, to which Cara responds with a call of ecstasy. Stream the track below:

September 10, 2012

NEW TRACK: Eyedress - "Everything We Touch Turns Into Gold"

Eyedress’ new hypno-soul track “Everything We Touch Turns Into Gold” is a romance of sauntered lo-fi vocals lazing against a dreamy backdrop. It’s a sweet, yet desolate admittance of a forlorn lover steeped in past memories and nostalgia. Eyedress gives us supple loops that accentuate the misty frequencies of the track, a gesture that reveals his contemplative and intimate side. While this may be vaguely similar to King Midas’ tragic story, there’s no doubt that by the time you’re back in your head after that trippy listening experience, you’ll remain spell bound by its charms. – Mary Christine Galang

Stream the track below:


September 9, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Tide/Edit - Ideas (2012)

In the arena of instrumental music, where electronic, IDM, and dubstep lord with their vast play of intricate, elaborate sounds and meandering styles, post-rock remains to be in the less hyperventilating corner, a genre that demands more somber acuity than anything else tapped in the similar vein. But even in that, we can find our wanting of a softer and less dramatic ensemble sometimes – which is where tide/edit comes in. The band classifies their sound as ‘happy music’, and they make just that. But happiness is subjective, when one may jump with glee, and the other, wistfully absorbed by unexplained warmth. Their debut EP Ideas catapults you into the alternate side of consciousness. They maintain the element of passion where their genre roots from, but kept it short, allowing you to catch your breath and bask in the afterglow of each track.

“Backpack” fits well as the opening track, with its dousing riffs urging you to embark on a half-hour journey. The transition is idyllically breathtaking, given its timeframe that only clocks short of 180 seconds. This says a lot when it comes to expecting a promising leverage for the succeeding tracks. “Status” rams with succinct percussion arrangement, gliding with rhythmic buoyancy. Then there’s “Nine,” a heartbreakingly trapping song that stings full of unyielding emotions all throughout. Halfway through is “Calls From You,” a refreshing track layered with soothed cuts and scratches. “Pagbangon” fares well with “Bikes” in a gutsy combination of livening and joyous progression, with the latter ending in melancholy pedals. “Close Your Eyes” lounges its beats in a graceful cadence, punctuating the album in a hushed and nimble sigh.

There’s always a danger when it comes to instrumental music, when the artists fail to sustain what they managed to compel or provoke in the first place. When the emotion is brewed ingeniously and then left hanging on a momentum drop, it ends up as sullen, background music. On a personal note, that did not happen in this record. This is when one realizes the effect that music has on him or her that changed something within that’s beyond expectation. It shaves off all the pretensions, and just reveals what is innocent and pure that lies inside.  A  /  B 

The “review contributor” and the “blog owner” came to an agreement of posting two ratings for this review to highlight each person’s individual stand on the album. 

Review c/o: Mary Christine Galang
Check her other writings here and make sure to follow her on Twitter.

September 8, 2012

NEW TRACK: Love Never Dies - "Ascension"

Love Never Dies is all set to release their new EP sometime soon, and judging from the demos and tracks posted in their Soundcloud page, it looks like they’re gunning for an electronic update of ‘70s psychedelia, with a wallop of white noise and acid-laced blur burbling in the background. Their first single “Ascension,” also the title of the new EP, shares this newfound direction in their music: a free-form cosmicgasm of a track clothed in proggy synths and programmed 80s beats that explode halfway into a mass of forward motion sweep as if a collision between two planets have erupted somewhere the astral glide. It’s a beautiful post-ambient stuff that’s just too epic to ignore. Stream this wonderful track below:

ALBUM REVIEW: Love In Athens - Half-Awake In The Morning Haze (2012)

In his recent move from Davao City to Manila, Love In Athens a.k.a. Francis Maria Regalado documents the shift in his environment and city life workings on his new EP Half-Awake In The Morning Haze. Francis has since then tied up with Number Line Records and its all-embracing preference on wordless, electro-pop mush and mathy ambient mixes—and rather than pushing a different direction to do the trick for him, he settles on serving up tried-and-tested, label-mate formula for our digital consumption, replicating what his peers have successfully cooked up in their previous releases with a bit of post-rock sensibility and maybe a little bit of himself.

To his credit, such familiarity doesn’t stop Francis for dressing up his soundscapes with the daydream swirl of urban alienation and angst, capturing the momentum that the song structure suggests in passing, with a hint of sunshine. Opener “Shell Canvass” demonstrates this strength: a lush, synth-pop instrumental swamped in distant melancholia, floating and traveling outwards the sky where it reaches for something infinite and drawn-out. It could’ve been more interesting had it been cherry-topped with vocals, but on the other side of the story, it’s charming the way it is. “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Waiting For Sundays” aren’t any different from the opener track, both of which explores melodic, instinctively appealing sounds and pillow-soft pleasures for comfort. Nothing really new, except for the title. The last track “Closure” provides a sharp contrast to his predominantly bright and fleeting material, working instead on a numbing shoegazer static that feels like the longest three-minute song ever recorded in history.

Half-Awake In The Morning Haze brims with big, swelling moments inspired by Francis’ efforts to harvest emotional meaning out of tightly sequenced soundscapes. But rather than holding the grip and articulating it well given the short amount of time, he puts so much emphasis on ambition that it tends to loosen its focus. Still, it’s a promising EP fuelled with youthful energy and uncompromising ideas, leaving us with something to look forward to in the near future. B- 

September 7, 2012

PINNED: J-Hoon Balbuena

After more than a decade of churning in-your-face rock anthems with former bandmates Kjwan and Kapatid, J-Hoon Balbuena returns with a solo project that mixes soul-banging urban music with the hazy, impressionistic production values permeating most PBRB records, from Drake’s Take Care to The Weeknd’s Echoes of Silence. But instead of indulging to all sorts of sonic pleasures that his lush, downcast music seemed to serve, J-Hoon keeps everything somber and personal, careful not to blurry the lyrical introspection with just the lure of sound collage.

Just recently, we've bumped into J-Hoon for a chit-chat regarding his newfound love for PBR&B and the creative process behind his new record Noodles.

Q: Congrats on your debut solo album, Noodles. How does it feel like doing music on your own?
Thank you! To tell you the truth, it’s been a while. I mean a good few years that I have been wanting to do an album like that. When you are too deep in a band and when your singles are all over and when you are just immersed in the limelight and highway, you tend to lose the capacity to create, but to just GIG and rock the house! So I’d say, this direction and Noodles is another little dream come true. Because being a rock personality with Kapatid and Kjwan and all the glory that came about was something I did dream or yearn about as a big kid! But now there is a novelty to create my kinda music without boundaries, and to experiment with vocals and flows, that’s very refreshing for me too. It’s sort like a homecoming. There is a song in Noodles that’s called "Go Home."

Q: Noodles sounds like nocturnal, soul-heavy hiphop music best played after a night of partying. And it also has this somber, introspective vibe that’s equal parts mood music, equal parts sexy time banger. How did you come up with such a distinct sound?
You actually got it quite SPOT ON! Belly good! It’s really a dimmed out soul hip hop sound that I wanted to craft. Before I picked those 16 tracks that went into the Noodles' roster, I had about 40 drafts made: I have enough for the 2nd and 3rd album. But I had to pick those that would fit nicely in the NOODLES box. To tell you the truth, most of the songs were made inside a house or apartment, during quality times or bad times. So I guess it kinda exuded a very strong sense of MOOD!! hahahah!

J-Hoon - U & Me (Prod. By Nights Of Rizal) from Idris Vicuña on Vimeo.

Q: Your latest single “You & Me” has that Frank Ocean/How To Dress Well/Drake feel to it. Are you heavily into the PBR&B micro-genre as well?
I dig that genre a lot. I see myself changing with times too apart from keeping my core soul / funk and hip hop landscapes, the synth sounds, airy ads, fat 7th chords over a crazy and hip verse that really appeal to me. I can’t wait to share my second album with you guys!!

4. Which one is your favorite among the tracks in your new album?
Woooooo Tough one. If I could answer that, there would only be ONE song in the album. I guess it’s a lil diary, every page counts. But I defnitely want you guys to check out songs like "Far Away," "Remember the Days," "Find You" "U & Me" for the next few days. Then explore more of the NOODLE gems as we add more tracks to the bandcamp account. It’s not entirely a SOLO album, there are some collaborations from every artist I really respect a lot, that’s why they are in the album.

Q: Do you have other plans of reconnecting with your previous bands? I mean you’ve been a part of Kjwan, Third World Project and Kapatid to name a few.
Right now, musically, no. But good thing is I have actually been seeing some of the boys more often. That to me, friendship, is more golden than glory. Musically, I will be on the mic and beats right now.

Q: It fascinates me how you’ve managed to fit into the urban/hiphop world, with your previous background as a musician leaning more into the rock/alternative side. So how did you effortlessly blend in?
Cuz it was quite effort in making Noodles. This process actually solidified the fact this direction might just be what I am gonna be doing for a long time. It was something that came honestly and naturally. Urban Hip Hop has always been my cup of tea aside of rock, if you listen to all 5 albums of Kapatid and Kjwan, you find elements of hip hop, dnb and ambient. It is that chemistry that defined the golden days of Kapatid and Kjwan. It was that excitement that our fans were always looking for. So now I am just jumping out of those boxes, and doing what I have always been doing in-- raw form.

Q. Name three records you don’t want to trade to anyone.
1. Tribe Called Quest – Anthology / 2. Roots – The Organix / 3. Sam Hui – HK Single

Q. Three years from now, how would you want to be remembered as an artist?
An artist that made a mark in drumming (Thanks to Belgium Stagg cymabls for making the first endorser in the Philippines. Nike. Nokia. Red Horse. American Blvrd. No Fear. And all the labels and telcos.), good rhymes and good songs that stay for a long, long, long time.

September 6, 2012

NEW TRACK: Plant A Tree Feat. Glaiza De Castro - "PNP4"

Pat Sarabia a.k.a. Plant A Tree recruits young actress Glaiza De Castro on a twisted art-pop jam that brings to mind  a groggy version of Deerhoof and Morningwood. The collabo track is called “PNP4” and it features Glaiza’s candy-coated vocals pitched up and manipulated to make it sound like a drugged Satomi Matsuzaki stuck in a mobile disco caravan with nothing to hold on to but a glass of Margarita and some vaguely funky, bleep-blop pop music pounding from the speakers.

There’s payload of weird hooks and gristly drum fills, knob-twiddling electronic flourishes and lilting keys, and these elements are all veiled with glittery bounce that makes you pumped up to dance, even if everyone in the neighborhood wants you to just stop. Download the new track here and stream it below:

September 5, 2012

NEW TRACK: Some Gorgeous Accident - "See You Shine"

After a fairly exhausting day, it feels relatively relaxing to play Some Gorgeous Accident’s new track “See You Shine” while allowing the afternoon rays from the sun creep in your window in its own quiet, captivating way. Credit Dale Marquez for bringing autumnal color and suburban dreaming as inspiration to this wonderful piece of shoegaze shimmer, entrancing us, audience to feel and breathe in the same manner as the song’s melancholic longing. It does sound familiar but surprisingly new, and it throws us once again to the nostalgia dive that Dale expertly crafts even in his most uninspired needlework. Stream this track below:

September 3, 2012

NEW TRACK: BBYGRL x The Admirable Failure - "Hard To Get"

Outside the confines of her TV villainess roles and internet celeb status, Saab Magalona records as lo-fi pop chanteuse BBYGRL, funneling her inner Tracey Thorn with rosy, chill-out beats and homemade electronics. Just recently, she collaborated with Ernest Aguila of The Admirable Failure on a new track called “Hard To Get.” Over a lovesick pleading, Saab gets her emotions going, giving us that calm voice, spare and almost unadorned. But it is through Ernest’s washed out production that helps Saab wring comfort music out of her own little trappings, letting that slice of inspiration not to get wasted. Stream this electro-pop tune below:

NEW TRACK: DJ Arbie Won Feat. Katwo | Analog MC - "Trapper Keeper"

DJ Arbie Won is all set to release his all-star bag of an album United Freestyles Volume 3, featuring guest vocals by Drip’s Beng Calma, Nyko Maca, and Nimbus 9 to name a few. This time, he’s gotten better and more interesting with his production style, nailing turntablist rhythms with kaleidoscopic, femme-fatale pop and streetwise funk, rabidly skewed in old school fashion, Arbie style.

Such is the case of his new single “Trapper Kipper,” where he shares the spotlight with his new muse Katwo Puertollano –the feisty front woman of indie rock icons Duster and Narda—unclothing her with a big-tent personality that pinches a thing or two from M.I.A. to Robyn, Santigold to our very own, Sampaguita. Not to be left out, Analog MC provides a tongue-in-cheek verse as support to Katwo’s fearless embodiment of the cool, not afraid to top some cheese on a straight-faced, urban swag that's bound to challenge the pop music landscape this side of the borough. Check it out:

NEW TRACK: Similar Objects - "Tilde"

Similar Objects has dropped a new track called “Tilde” off his upcoming EP under Number Line Records. Swamped between J. Dilla’s school of abstract hiphop and Flying Lotus’ genre-defying sonic assaults, Jorge puts astral fantasia back to his repertoire, copping its feel over layers upon layers of slow-dragging haze and cosmic glitches. Everything about it is breathtakingly gorgeous, courting intimacy instead of ambition while playing along with looping guitar strums and blurred, ghost-like ambiance. It’s meticulously produced and well-made that it felt like Jorge is working at the height of his creative bandwidth right now, redefining craftmanship that seems to be fueled by imagination and the drive to stand out. Stream it:

September 2, 2012

NEW VIDEO: Dash Calzado - "Return of the Phunky Ones"

In the wake of Filipino hiphop’s return to critical and commercial forefront, Dash Calzado proves to be one of the genre’s best kept secrets, delivering a tongue-in-cheek, tatted up whack that smashes everything from ‘90s Manila rap to New Orleans funk. His new single “Return of the Phunky Ones” dares you to play catch-up with its string of fresh ideas and euphoric bounce, made completely enjoyable by a giddy sample straight from 60s classic funk pioneers The Meters’ “Hand Clapping Song.” Watch the video for this monster new track below:


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