Pastilan Dong!’s new album, Gadilaab, is an alt-rock soundtrip.
by rick olivares
Pastilan Dong!’s third and new album, Gadilaab, is like a literal 1990s alt-rock mix tape.
Yes, Gadilaab comes in cherry red cassette tape -- with fabulous psychedelic cover art depicting the band – that should be labeled with a nod to the Guardians of the Galaxy… Awesome 90s Mix Vol. I.
I am told that “Gadilaab” is Bisaya for “on fire” or “burning.”
After a couple of listens, what I find on fire is my imagination as it is lit with Sonic Youth fuzz and Stoner Rock sludge. It reminds me of a time when I routinely rifled through the catalogues of Touch and Go, Merge, and SST Records back in the Alternative 90s in search of the next underground nugget to give my life meaning.
The opening track, “Hiyang” is like a Foo Fighters song. ”Black and White” I swear sounds exactly like local shoegaze purveyors, Sonnet 58. The Silversun Pickups come alive with “Ambiguous.”
The Queens of the Stone are represented in “Bill Spill”.
“Bisag Unsaon” has my pulse racing as I am reminded of French band Gojira (I have all their albums).
While Pastilang Dong! wears their influences on their sleeve, it should be underscored that they are no tribute band. The band – vocalist and guitarist Kaloy Olavides, bassist Rio Vargas, and drummer Vin Zafra – play tight, crunching rock in English and Bisaya. And truthfully, I like the braveness of Gadilaab – music, cassette format, and all.
Pastilan Dong! makes no bones about their influences, and I certainly appreciate their willingness to challenge the conventional by singing some songs in Bisaya.
I have to admit that I love listening to Junior Kilat perform dub songs in Bisaya. Ditto with underground punk band Istukas Over Disneyland that sings all their songs in their native Kampampangan.
Having said that, I feel that Olavides’ vocals are the enigma here. On one hand, there’s the shoegaze approach where the vocals are treated like an instrument as at times it is drowned out by the crunch. However, the monotone in which he sings is like the late Ian Curtis – it drones on whether by design or a limited vocal range. Maybe that’s part of the fondue.
For the second year running, we have this late late release that was smack in the middle of December. In 2017, it was Sugar Hiccup’s Closure released two days before the end of that year. Gadilaab’s soft launch was sometime before Christmas and this coming January 26, the album will be given the proper send-off it deserves at Mow’s.
Fire in the hole.