Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Slapshock releases its 20th anniversary album, “Atake”

Slapshock releases its 20th Anniversary album, Atake.
by rick olivares

Filipino metal band Slapshock launched its ninth album Atake this past Wednesday, December 13, to coincide with their 20th anniversary at the Oriental Palace restaurant along Tomas Morato Street in Quezon City.

During the launch, the band also presented the first two videos of the first two singles off the album, “Luha” and “Atake”.

The title of the album is apt and despite the band’s longevity, it says something about their collective mindset which is not slowing down. “People tend to mellow down as they get older,” quipped lead singer Jamir Garcia. “Us? We got even louder and aggressive.”

“’Atake’ as a title yung ang mindset namin,” added bassist Lee Nadela. “Move kami forward. We’re not slowing down.”

The album is their first since the 2014 extended play album “Night Owls” that was recorded in the United States with System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian. The new album features 10 tracks nine of which are in Tagalog.

“Yes, it was a conscious decision on our part to write the new songs in Tagalog,” clarified Garcia. “’Night Owls’ was all in English and we wanted a change of pace.”

More than a change of pace, Slapshock wanted to give back to its legions of fans. Despite being around for two decades now, the band’s shows remain packed to the rafters or as far as the eye can see with many in the audience of the younger generation.

“We’ve had fans who were young and are now professionals – pulis, doctor, abogado, negosyante, media man tapos now we have met their children who are also into our music,” revealed Garcia.

“Yung second to the last song sa ‘Atake’ is ‘Bandera’,” shared Nadela. “Sa dulo ng kanta, you will hear the fans singing along. Na-record namin yung ng live and Jamir gave them some lines to sing along. This is our way of saying thank you to them – nakasama sila sa bagong album.”

Garcia attributes their longevity to their intra-personal relationships. “You never hear that we have side projects or we want to take time off. Everything we want to do musically – it’s as a band. Nothing individual. We do everything together and when we need space we give each other space. But we do get along very very well.”

The band just concluded its 20-city tour for its 20th anniversary. They also performed this year in Malaysia, Dubai, Borneo, and the United States. “I hear some bands get on each other’s nerves during tours. But kami? No. We actually enjoy them. We don’t take anything for granted,” revealed Garcia. “We’re grateful for the success that has come our way.”

In fact, the band is slated to tour Australia by February of 2018. “That would be perfect time to get the new music to the fans,” said Garcia.

Curiously, “Atake” was released in a different format – via USB. “We’ve had compact disc releases, a vinyl release, and streaming. We even thought about this being a cassette release pero wala na yata gumagawa rito sa Pilipinas. But we want this to also be out in other formats. Vinyl is something we’re thinking of and a limited edition CD release because some prefer it that way.”

The band had a recent vinyl release titled “Twelve Point One” that was a picture disc as well. “We want to push the envelope. That keeps us motivated,” added Nadela.

Year-end vinyl sale at Northwest Estate & Collectibles (NEC)

Give the gift of music this Christmas and beyond. 

It's also a good time to get into vinyl. 

A Blast from my past: The Growing Up soundtrack

If I recall correctly, the soundtrack of this 1978 film was first released in the Philippines before the actual screening. I used to look at the album's cover art and geek out at the juke box, Elvis, Bill Haley, and Little Richard to name a few. 

The film originated in Israel under the title, Lemon Popsicle, and featured all these big hits from the 1950s as you can see from the songs and the artists below.

When the film was shown -- if I am not mistaken around 1981 -- I went to see it and well, the story stayed with me. It was obviously about growing up, falling in love, discovering sex, and learning about heartbreak. and for someone barely into his teens, it was an eye opener.

I don't remember much about the film save that it was later re-made for American audiences and was titled, The Last American Virgin which I also saw but lacked any empathy from me. What I do remember most is the soundtrack. I love it because it has some Italian songs like "Volare" by Domenico Modugno and "Come Prima" by Marino Marini. That is pretty tough to find.

I must have played the soundtrack to death and really have no idea what became of it. I did manage to re-acquire a copy and am not letting this go. Am loving it every bit as much as I did when I was a kid and then some.

And it goes nicely with my other records of 50s/60 music Stand By Me, The Big Chill, and Grease. 

Growing Up was cool too.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Vic Facultad is back with his Pinoy reggae fusion

Vic Facultad is back with his Pinoy reggae fusion
by rick olivares

Vic Facultad’s sister has this story. Her officemates know these songs – “Di Mo Lang Alam”, “S on My Chest”, “Earth to Man” and a few others. They think they’re some pretty cool ones too. Except they don’t know that the lead singer of that band, Indio I, is her brother. They didn’t even know his name or else they’d put two and two together (they’ve got the same surname) and ask some questions.

Perhaps, the apropos question is, whatever happened to Vic Facultad?

It has been 20 years that 1997 debut by that reggae band out of Ateneo de Manila came out on Star Records (some of the early members later split to form Brownman Revival). They were like this big little secret. People know or have this familiarity with the band’s songs but that’s it. Unless you’re in the scene, you don’t know really know who’s who. And Facultad is one of those quiet and anonymous singers who have been around.

Twenty-years later today, he’s back in the scene with a bunch of new songs. He hesitates to say it’s a comeback. “I never left,” he tells. “I’ve been gigging here and there. But right now, I’m deep in this creative spark.”

Facultad has found not that fount of youth but a renewed passion and desire to write and record new songs. And get back with his reggae fusion sound (there’s some soul, funk with traces of rock riffs here and there) but more to his vision.

“I’ve been giving away the new song titled “Malungkot na Masaya” we’ve recorded (with his band, Weather the Roots) to anyone who wants it,” he shares over dinner at Tito’s Latin BBQ and Grille in Pasig City last Sunday evening right before a show at the B-Side Collective. “I email it and make it available for free downloads.”

He isn’t worried that people will compare the new song (songs, if you will because he’s recorded a bunch of them) to the old classics. He isn’t a one-hit wonder. What he is – a fully confident and season scene vet who believes the new songs will grab people’s attention.

“Like my other songs, I write about other people’s stories. Not just mine but I also write from what I hear and see; yung pulsong Pinoy ba,” he explains. “Malungkot na Masaya” and the second song, “Lakbay” are stories of everyday life that move him.

“Indio I was a bunch of friends who liked Metallica and reggae and the metal influence would be subtle but obvious. Don’t get me wrong, I like Metallica and the whole grunge and alternative scene that was popular in the 90s,” clarifies the 40-year old singer. “But the new music is shaped to my vision (as well as co-creator Ian Umali who once played with the late Karl Roy in P.O.T.). My manager Miren Sanchez also helps out creatively especially in translating it.”

Facultad hails from Iloilo and Tagalog isn’t one of his strong suits. Yet that doesn’t stop him from singing and writing his songs in the national language. “I’m proud of our language and I think it’s the best way for me to communicate the songs specially the new ones we are recording.”

But why reggae? Reggae fusion to be exact.

“The style isn’t something difficult to get into for the Pinoy. It’s got a danceable beat and Pinoys love to dance. It isn’t heavy. And as they say, the music appeals to the heart, mind, and hips.”

“Right now the plan is to record an album,” he shares. “How it is released – whether on digital download, Spotify, or even on vinyl which I want to do will be determined soon. But this isn’t a comeback or goodbye. Or even scratching something off my bucket list. This is me saying hello again. Especially to the young music fans.”

“I’ll say this though, it has been a while since I have been this excited. I figure people will like the new songs.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pinoy post-rock/prog metal band Yomi No Kuni welcomes you to their brand of horror

Pinoy post-rock/prog metal band Yomi No Kuni welcomes you to their brand of horror
by rick olivares

Who would have thought that instrumental bands would be popular this new millennium? Previously, when you said instrumental bands, there were the Ventures and the Shadows and the Philippines’ very own Electromaniacs.

That was then and this is now.

However, before anything else, you have to credit Texas-based post-rock band Explosions in the Sky for painting a landscape for this kind of highly-textured music as they paved the way for many similar bands. To my knowledge, Encounters with a Yeti was the first local post-rock outfit. And a couple of years ago, Tom’s Story arrived and provided a resplendent and shimmering counterpoint. Now something sinister this way comes with Yomi No Kuni.

Yomi No Kuni is a four-piece band (guitarist Kenneth Castillo, drummer Marco Banaag, keyboardist/violinist Miguel Delos Santos, and bassist Daine Daling) whose debut offering, Horrors, is like a soundtrack to one’s descent into madness.

You know the album has hooked you when it evokes all these images as well as thoughts and emotions. And your curiosity is picked from the get-go. The name “Yomi No Kuni” means “land of the dead” and is taken from Shinto mythology. The cover of Horrors by local artist Kean Mendez is evocative of the Japanese ukiyo-e style. The album’s liner notes also features eight pieces of art (also by Mendez and eight different essays that are their respective authors’ take on the eight different songs’ emotions. If the packaging is visually arresting, then music is even more so.

The opening track “Welcome to Yomi” and at first listen, sounds like a brooding and dark cousin to Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”.

“…In the Dead of the Night” evokes haunting images of Eric Draven (the titular character of the film The Crow) playing a lonely and tortured guitar piece on a rain-soaked and wind-swept rooftop. I love it for its alternating a melancholic sound with a crunch that belies simmering anger.

“Jardin d’Eros” or “garden of Eros” is like some lost track from A Perfect Circle’s “Mer De Noms”.

“Judgement” and “The Dance of Spirits” leave you in a Dream Theater state.

“Our music is something that should scare or awe the casual listener,” bared Castillo.  “The blackgaze elements from bands like Alcest and Deafheaven were added much later after the songs were written. The primary influences are rooted in post-metal progressive rock with bands like Cloudkicker, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Intronaut, Boris, and Russian Circles among others.”

The potent mix of emotions aside, Yomi No Kuni doesn’t bottle up all these roiling thoughts and agonies inside. They release in the form of solid musicianship that leaves you in awe, or if you will as a play on the title, horrified.

Horrors is a powerful and magnificent debut of an album by Yomi No Kuni. Now jump down their rabbit hole.