Tag Archives: Up Dharma Down

Songs for Mother Nature

By Nickie Wang

Four decades ago, a US senator lobbied assistance to the rapid degradation of the environment.  Yet, he could not seek help from Washington so he took it instead straight to the American people and got overwhelming support.  A year later, a nation-wide environmental demonstration took place and then the Earth Day was born.

In most part of the world, most especially among members of United Nations, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. In the Philippine, it is usually a week-long event that features a myriad of activities from Aparri down to Jolo. Continue reading

Listening to mixed flavors of music

By Nickie Wan/ Manila Standard Today

There are many compilation albums in the market that promise to provide a gamut of emotion, artistry, and of course entertainment. One of the best reasons why record labels come up with single CD featuring different artists is the hope to give listeners a sample of similar materials performed by different music acts. Compilations serve as a sampler or a window to the respective albums of the featured artists, but there is an important thing to ask, will it save both time and money buying these kinds of albums?

We don’t want to buy CDs with songs that we don’t want to listen to, but we tried to give Pinoy Soul Movement, a collection of fresh soul music, and Brave New Music, soundtrack album of the indie flick Sa Pagdapo ng Mariposa, a fair chance to be heard.

Riot of Soul

pinoy_soul_movementBy just reading the title on the cover, Pinoy Soul Movement, someone would initially think that it’s a group of local musicians who collaborated for a common cause—to promote the soul genre. But there’s a deeper connection between these artists that they decided to promote not just their type of music but to introduce the passion of supporting original musical artwork.

The album kicks off with “Sino?”, a beautiful noise by Sinosikat?.  The strong quality of the track lies in the unsullied vocals and in the straightforward lyric. It leaves a sardonic question to other artist or to just someone who thinks he is bigger than anybody else around him. The strength is however tarnished by messy guitar recording.

The best songs on this CD are from Julianne and Cosmic Love. Julianne’s “Grateful” is a humble and simple composition, with easy to remember lyric and melody. Aside from the easy sounding vocals, it exudes a lot of positive vibes. The song is only too lengthy when in fact it can encapsulate the message it wants to send across in less than four minutes. Cosmic Love’s “PNP” (Panis Na Pawis), on the other hand, is a recreation of retro soul highlighted by strong rough vocals. It is an upbeat and an engaging track amidst poor recording.

Another showcase track in the compilation album is “George Estregan Blues Explosion” by Radio Active Sago Project. It’s the only pure musical track in the album yet the absence of lyric and vocals still makes it appealing because of the genius blend of different instruments.

Listeners will appreciate the exceptional vocal performances in “Lazy Daisy” (Up Dharma Down), “Turn My Head” (Nyco Maca & Playground), and “Uhaw” (The Chillitees). These songs encourage the listeners to appreciate Pinoy vocal talents. Lazy Daisy, not minding the grammatical errors that are acceptable in poetry and lyric writing, is perfect from start to finish and if the listeners didn’t know that it was an Up Dharma Down’s material, they would think that it’s a recording of a foreign act.  “Turn My Head” is a brave track. It’s an innovative soul music flavored with house beat. What makes it outstanding is the incorporation of Tagalog words in the  lyric without sounding cheap. Some listeners will be pleased about the vocals of “Uhaw” for the first minute of the track, but they might get choked because the next four minutes begin to sound irritating.

“All Star Nation” by Kala is a very relative piece of musical artwork. Call Center spiels are integrated in the intro, giving an instant idea that it is actually inspired by the telemarketing business. It is safe to say that lyricist had a call center experience, but generally, the song lacks the all-star appeal to make a hit.

Three of the less appealing featured tracks in the album are “Bahid” by Salindiwa, “Telegrama” by Kapatid, and “Maynila” by Sound. “Bahid” is a very pessimistic track because we have heard of them from different folk and alternative songs. “Telegrama” is an auditory torture. Just like the title itself, the song is  obsolete, and because of the scattered sound produced by bad recording, unfortunately the listeners will not appreciate even if it has a very poetic lyric. “Maynila,” on the other hand, is a good way to describe the city’s sound and rhythm but it falls short in depicting the real pulse of the city. The attempt was a failure because while listening to it, listeners can’t help but remember Hotdog’s classic “Manila.”

Jumbled genres

Brave New Music is a diverse mix of pop, rock, rhythm and blues, and metal music. There are tracks that are worth listening to and there are materials that should have been removed from the track listing for the reason that they make the compilation a cacophony of good and rubbish music.

brave-new-musicThe most uplifting tracks in the album are the first four songs. They create a cinematic feel since they are part of a motion picture as soundtracks. It’s a good strategy to put the showcase tracks in the first part of the album, but the disappointment comes when the listeners reached the latter part of the track list.

“Home” by VerseS is an alternative music with a soul that emanates from the intelligently written lyric. We believe that this track needs a little tweaking or perhaps be rerecorded because the instruments drown out the vocal. Next to it is “Botelya” by Liquid Jane. It is an explosive Tagalog ditty that subtlety suggests drinking as the answer to mend someone’s loneliness. It weaved rhythmic pattern of poetic lines to create a potent message.

A very powerful slice of folk genre is “Tara” by The Rinka Collective. The soothing vocals complement the instruments in creating a temporary bucolic atmosphere. “CC/ Hour” by Sunflower Day Camp is a slow rock that narrates a tale of love that gradually drips like blood on the floor. This track reflects the exceptional talent of the band that created it.

After being treated by these good sounds, the following tracks in the album need thorough adjustments if not complete revisions.

“Di Kita Iiwan” by Elin Jr. is a poor track.  The thick accent of the vocal performer is at some point very destructing. The listeners might be driven away by the disengaging intro and inartistic backing vocal effects.

Another unappealing track is “Gising Na” by 4DW. If it’s the fault of the recording studio that made the song sounds scattered then the band should have listen to the material before releasing it commercially. It’s not worth the buyers’ hard-earned money in other words. Just like “Gising Na,” “Shift” by Intolerant is something that is hard to tolerate because of the irritating vocals. Someone has to have an acquired taste to have this song be played again.

“Let’s Play” by Isabella and Keith Martin is the strangest track in the album. As the last track in the album, it will surprise the listeners not because it sounds good but because it sounds odd. It’s not because of the genre; it’s a kind of love song that even the most in loved person in the world wouldn’t appreciate. The words are uttered in a very clear manner yet it is also the very same reason why listeners will dislike it, the lyric is poorly written.

But before listeners get disheartened, two tracks will appease their auditory nerves. “Caregiver” by Area 5 and “Langit Na” by Redlead 65 are part of the showcase tracks. “Caregiver” is a very short punk track that can be played in loop while “Langit Na” serves as the best track in the album. It is not so loud yet still acceptable alternative rock song that is supported by an engaging melody and catchy chorus.

All established musical acts started from being novice artists who started from scratch, but they worked hard and maximized their potentials. That is the reason why some of them are still in the mainstream music and earning while doing the things they love. What some of the promising bands lack is actually a break, a chance to make it big, but this will only happen if they have exceptional materials to offer, unless they really want to remain in anonymity.