May 30, 2013
May 28, 2013
As a solo performer, Ifrit makes use of his voice as a keening, somber instrument that renders haunting evocations of Anthony and the Johnsons or Paul Buchanan—admittedly two of his personal heroes in music. There was never a moment of restraint and moderation; only cabaret transmissions from a mournful elegy sung in confessional, spine-tingling outbursts.
“Anam Kyra,” Ifrit’s debut track finds him unearthing the ghosts of his past, trying to redeem his soul in the many layers of tension and achingly beautiful, orchestral lushness. What stands out about Ifrit is how he was able to evoke fragility even from a neo-classicist standpoint, cutting this close to the bone the moment he opens his diaphragm and lets his soulful lament invade the open air. The last two minutes of the song, is where he loosens up like a primitive shaman mantracizing otherworldly ills with a desire to seek redemption. His voice fills us with hope for better things to come, a languid mediation imbibed with the rightful amount of sadness and divinity.
May 27, 2013
May 25, 2013
Bearing the bluest heartbreak ever confessed, “Balewalang Pag-ibig” feels like a product of diarist sentiments exposed in the most beautiful of ways. The banduria flourishes and introspective, lush arrangements exude timelessness that reverts back to the stylistic tendencies of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. But it’s the words behind the song, fleetingly alluring and captivating from start to finish, that holds everything together as it should be.
May 24, 2013
There’s something beguilingly perverse about the nakedness that comes in when KZ sings, raspy and expressive, rife with its own character. She’s more than an interpreter who fakes dramatic conceit with note-perfect emotions. If in real life she’s indeed a happy person, she seems to extract the opposite on recording: one song she can be that grand dame articulating brutal confessionals of withered love with preciseness and crackle, the other she channels hopelessness with a vulnerable bluesy snarl that renders it the more heartfelt.
While the last two decades have brought along modern torch singers who have relied so much on copying the melismatic drawl of Mariah Carey and went to as far as imbibing the artificial power belting of divas Regine Velasquez and Celine Dion, none was as original and chilling as KZ Tandingan’s gritty soul, which surprisingly her producers at Star Records bankrolled on at their own (profit-making) risk.
Dressed up with organic but modern production that conveys her authenticity, KZ Tandingan’s self-titled debut album is an actual thing of beauty and pain, a straight-up commercial record riddled with soul siren feistiness, power ballad swoon, and jazzy, lighter-than-air bounce. Unlike her contemporaries, KZ’s strength lies on how she convincingly interprets these spirited songs that we can all relate to, into something bigger than life with fervor and fire. She also makes it a point to go beyond plaintive emoting, owning moments within songs word per word, sometimes struggling to move out from the emotional attachment. “Puro Laro” seems fit in this mold: a big soulful ballad that casts KZ as the scorned lover who wants to get things right. Backed with a soaring chorus that pierces the heart even further as it builds and blasts, the song challenges its listeners to hear and feel the pain her way. Same can also be said on “Bakit Lumuluha”—a wounded follow-up that for all its earnestness reveals all that can be found in every failed relationship.
Another standout, “Un-Love You” shows KZ Tandingan holding on to a confidence-joltiing weeper with a rockier edge that brings to mind Kelly Clarkson or Pink. Here, she sounds pissed at a controlled pace, but as the power chords, dramatic strings and crashing drums overlay in the chorus, you’ll notice the intensity that she interweaves into the grit, almost battling the ferociousness of every bleeding note with hint of irony and sarcasm.
Despite having the tendency to go for melodramatic overkill, the producers, headed by Jonathan Manalo, made it a point to expose KZ’s versatility as a singer, throwing in some lite-Motown twirl on “Love Love Love,” neo-bossa on “Umiibig,” and poignant piano ballad on “Scared To Death.” In another singer’s hands, this might seem like a heavy undertaking, a sugarcoated fluff lacking the emotions and attitude to pull it off. KZ proves that she can knock down these show-stopping songs and make it rather difficult for anyone to break into her level. B+
May 23, 2013
Exploring the fringes between experimental trappings and accessibility, Rome folds in a few more layers of Giorgio Moroder throb, heavy reverb, and droning psychedelic synths to evoke a pretty singular mix of yearning and hopelessness, but more than the stylistic overhauls that radiate in the background, the real highlight of this particular track is the songwriting, which for all its juvenilia, showed his vulnerable, emotional side.
“Time isn’t always a favor, a battle we all have to fight,” he intimates over a heavily filtered, chillwave groove that eventually slurs into washes of echoes and ambient drown. Things start to get interesting when Rome flaunts his emotions on the dancefloor with an enduring guise—drinks spilled on shirt, stomping wildly to the beat until the feeling momentarily wears out and haunts. Exploring this path might be a lucrative option, but leave it to Rome when it comes to leaving the audience wanting for more.
May 22, 2013
What draws me the most about Justin’s own take of the song is the transition, the slow build from unkempt electro-chill flourish to the last minute of gurgling, pulsing house thump. And somewhere midway in the clubland paradise, as JDG’s about to locate the climactic pleasures of the original, he loses it to the floor and pulls off his own idiosyncratic elements that had us salivating for more. Bring your homies and beat this track to the ground:
Justin De Guzman’s awesome take on “40 Winks” is part of Spazzkid’s Desire Remix album to be released soon. For more details visit his bandcamp page.
May 20, 2013
On their new track “Rough Skies,” FFW have successfully translated the smooth jazz vibe of their live performances into recording, putting their own breezy intonations to the brew. Its silken groove moves freely from one accent to another, and in a matter of minutes, cocoons into a bright-eyed improvisational earworm that you wish won’t stop.
And with all due respect to a lot of jazz musicians out there, its’ pretty refreshing to listen to the rubbery basslines, earthy drum beats, funky guitar solos and warm keyboard tones that veer towards self-indulgence, and instead provide a one-of-a-kind sparkle that suits the velvet optimism of the song. And Mimic—what can I say? She has reasserted herself as one the most promising voices in the emerging local music. Her understated, keening voice is sophisticated in its own little way, and I love that she’s more in control than ever. via ndfy.me
But it’s Isa Añiga’s lilting coos that pretty much gave the song its much-needed sunlight. She sings as if her voice is destined to be the world’s only centerpiece—beautiful, almost unreal, floating in wherever the gentle whirl takes it. John Uy of ATL on the other hand, holds everything together, without ever breaking. The beats and minimalist post-rock build he drops, never too empowering, are executed with just the right amount of finesse and subtlety. Download the track here.
May 17, 2013
May 15, 2013
May 13, 2013
Restrained dynamically, perhaps the most notable change in Hana is the warmth and breeze that she conveys when she sings around twinkly keyboards and synthesized horns. Her growing confidence both as singer-songwriter and producer is palpable, and on “Stephen,” you can hear her embracing artistic leaps forward, bolstered by her unique personality rustling through and through the song. Download it here.
May 10, 2013
Working for or against it, Franco’s sophomore album, Soul Adventurer threads on similar waters: the kind of anthemic rock sprawl hidden under a wash of infectious sing-alongs and power chord stompers. In the case of “To Survive,” “Better Days,” “Moonset,” and “A Beautiful Diversion”—it works, and even finds the band harnessing a particularly introspective mood. However, there are times that Franco’s stadium aspirations tend to overwhelm. The ambitious gestures downplay moments where he could have been more tender and nuanced; leaving us sometimes with schmaltzy, life-affirming pronouncements quite short of sincerity.
But don’t get me wrong. Soul Adventurer is a compelling modern rock release, and delivers the sonic hugeness that we’ve come to expect from arguably one of the country’s most popular rock icons of the last 5 years. While there’s some sort of heavy-handedness in the way Franco inject his own vulnerability, you could sense from a distance that’s he’s willing to compromise between experimental and pedestrian tastes, often making songs that go beyond satisfying its core audience.
“Lover's Fire,” with its minimalist R&B inflections and slowly seductive grooves provides a refreshing undertow that can’t be shaken for weeks and months. Opener “To Survive” and “A Beautiful Diversion” could rival first single “Better Days” in terms of chart longevity and pomp, wrapping the inner workings of love, life and religion with triumphant and emotional ballast. The rest of the songs range from good to middling, executed with rockstar confidence that cuts across class and ages. B
May 9, 2013
May 8, 2013
Which is the case on this remix.
James Ussher, the newest addition to the berth of Buwan Buwan Collective's artists, dotted the original with a more lavish approach. It opens with a sloshed tinker and wobbled hook, which is when you'll know this is a good song to listen to as an alternative to its more upbeat original. Layered with sparse synths and spurious glitches, it flourishes into a cathartic arrangement - just the right amount to make it the more affable, laid-back, and 'no tears' version. via Mary Christine Galang
May 7, 2013
The EP opens with the two-punch knockouts “Movements” and “Taxi Taxi,” both spaced-out ambient jams layered with haunting vocal arrangements and lush, digital burbles. It’s fascinating to hear Michael’s pitched up vocals stretched to gorgeously vertiginous effect; somehow, it contributes to the esoteric earnestness of the record, which so much reminds me of Purity Ring and Grimes. The pace slows down a bit with “Freedom,” a grainy, witch house experiment built around glockenspiels, ambient samples, ghostly hushes and noise. I personally prefer not including this track on the EP, as it sounds more like unnecessary clutter than an actual song.
On a positive note, the Cebu-based IDM/glitch-pop duo picks up with “Everyone’s The Same” and gloriously marches toward vibrancy and androgyny, all at equal swing, channeling Claire Boucher’s elfish mannerisms to strangely heavenly result. Rotsanjani complements Michael’s airy vocal gymnastics just as he gamely exposes their kaleidoscopic pop sensibilities in between tension and breeze, with the desire to do something more in touch with dreams than reality. The last track, “Hear Me” surprisingly ends the cryptic chasms of KaapiN’s debut EP with a warmer, more structured indie-pop luminacy, camouflaged like the lone crossover track that alternative radio might consider playing.
All in all, KaapiN is in for some great start, with innovative sonic sketches at play. And in today’s Soundcloud era, post-internet pop landscape, they were able to embrace electronic music trends effortlessly while also shredding some layers of it, making a record so recognizably theirs that it’s hard not to get smitten by its traces of inherent charisma and oddity. B+
You can stream the entire EP below via ndfy.me, and puchase the tracks on the duo's official bandcamp site.
May 5, 2013
Equally compelling is Raw Mf, who displays a better grip to his abilities, sliding effortlessly from one beat to another. With skill and artistry displayed to striking effect, RH Xanders and Raw Mf prove that there’s more to blog-era rap than experimental fetishisms.
May 2, 2013
You can tell they’re aiming to live by the moment. And with “Parachutes,” Gaijin take the fun side of making music to a higher level, treating every experience as if it’s the last barbecue party this summer.