Thursday, March 2, 2017

Pedicab explores new frontiers with Remuda Triangle

Pedicab explores new frontiers with Remuda Triangle
by rick olivares

In the office of the X-Files’ Fox Mulder is an iconic poster of an unidentified flying object with the words, “I want to believe” boldly proclaimed underneath.

With Pedicab’s fourth album release, the mysteriously named “Remuda Triangle”, I believe that the country’s most dangerous band has produced a spiritual cousin to Coheed and Cambria’s Amory Wars series of albums, David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars” and his last opus, “Blackstar”, as well as the Flash Gordon, X-Files and Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks. “Remuda Triangle” is about aliens, science fiction, journeying to the stars, and postulating if there is life in outer space.

 In short, “Remuda Triangle” finds the band venturing into concept album frontiers of which bands like Yes, the Mars Volta, the Who, My Chemical Romance, Arcade Fire, and Pink Floyd have boldly explored during their careers. And for Pedicab, no way is this pretentious because the band are self-confessed comic book and music geeks, sneakerheads, and video game enthusiasts among others, and an album like this seems like a logical progression.

During the band’s album launch held last Saturday, February 25, at Historia, Pedicab opened their hour-long set by playing the intro to the Carpenters’ “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”. With that, the connection to many of the album’s influences is firmly established.

Don’t be alarmed. The band doesn’t trade in their manic beat, post-punk sound for other highly textured sonic landscapes with odd time signatures. It is very much distinctly Pedicab; suffused with energy albeit used in a more mysterious and synchronous manner to the theme.

Lead singer Diego Mapa wrote most of the album with Raymund Marasigan sharing co-writing duties on three of the 10 tracks. The tracks flow into one another; the telling of a story of a man who isn’t sure if he was abducted by aliens or is their offspring. All he knows he is being called to the stars to reclaim his birthright? Or is it all a figment of his own deluded imagination?

And that is the operative word – imaginative.

From the album cover art, you are instantly sucked in the band’s version of the Bermuda Triangle of mystery. Visionary painter Ernest Concepcion’s work, “The Battering of Battery Park” (painted in 2009) depicts Kaiju-like sea creatures closing in on Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. During the album launch, the band donned huge bug-alien like headgear created by artist-designer Leeroy New that will remind you of Japanese sci-fi heroes Kamen Rider. Or even Daft Punk.

Truthfully, watching the band perform with the head gear, it gave each of them a different persona that allows them to not be themselves. I wonder how this is how metal bands like Slipknot, Mushroomhead, or Mudvayne feel when their masked or painted alter egos allow them to act out something different from their regular selves. And it sure added to the surreal atmosphere of the launch of “Remuda Triangle”.

“Walang Maramdaman” opens side one of the album and sets the tone for the mystery. “Alipin” throws gasoline into the fire with a quicker tempo. “Mercury Retrograde” slows down but not before providing a hint of danger of an alien attack.

The album’s first single, “What’s the Algorithm?” has that urgent beat with the droning of the titular chorus. The synths of the next track, “Brainwash” are like an air raid siren. The tension mounts.

Side two opens with a funkier track, “Meet Your Right” that is one of the best in the album and showcases the band’s chops. And what a way to open a side two it is. “Soul Riot” dives back into the quirkiness. “Virgo Dragon” another of the better tracks, starts with a minute-long fuzz like the band is trying to establish contact with alien life forms. And when it does, drummer Mike Dizon pounds the skins and the song goes supersonic (that is perhaps a nod to Oasis). “Star Jelly” finds the band channeling their inner David Bowie before closing with “Sending Out a Signal” where Mapa sings of being left behind by alien parents.

And where does that leave? It’s finding one’s place in the universe. It’s an ambitious album all right yet giving “Remuda Triangle” several proper listens including going to their album launch, I believe Pedicab pulls it off and finds themselves as one of the more creative and daring bands in the country today.

You might have noticed the mention of “side one” and “side two” and that is because “Remuda Triangle” is a limited edition vinyl release. I think more than ticking off something in their collective bucket list, it’s a great move. As cool as they have hit singles like “Otomatik”, the vinyl release of “Remuda Triangle” makes this more of an album-oriented outing. You have to intently listen to the songs and follow the lyrics that are printed on the back of the album jacket.

While it might disenfranchise some fans, casual or even the hardcore ones who do not have turntables, I think the move is suggestive. That you really get into the album from its artwork to the music. And that was the point of vinyl records until it was supplanted by downloads. The vinyl revival of the last seven years has reminded everyone that albums are supposed to be works of art. Concept albums and all.

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