This blog has been live for almost four years and yet it’s been terrible with Filipino music. We’ve been terrible with Filipino music. Sure, last year we reviewed more local albums than the previous three years combined, but still, we’re terrible. So, in an attempt to rectify that, we’re launching a new monthly column, going live on the last Thursday of each month, devoted to Filipino music, perhaps often indie, we don’t know, we’ll see. We’re calling this The Local Outsider simply because we’re outsiders to this scene, a scene that demands deep, deep immersion to be even let in – and since we’re busy people with jobs and obligations to juggle, this will do. It might be tokenism, but this will do. So. Shall we?
In case the opening paragraph didn’t imply it properly, this column won’t necessarily tackle new Filipino music. Again, we are terrible at this. (But we will find our way. We promise. We hope.) And so we begin with Basement Lung, yet another band with Raymund Marasigan on it. The guy’s restless, isn’t he? But the back story to this group is interesting: it’s a band he was in when he was still in high school, before the Eraserheads and Sandwich and all those other groups happened. Somehow they managed to get together and do a few gigs, and then, their debut album, Candelaria, dropped two months back. I’m only basing on “Tanong”, the video of which went live… well, it seems, a couple of months ago, too; the song is actually two years old! (Again, see?) Anyway, there’s a calming quality to the music. It’s fresh and yet it very much feels like something of its time. Or maybe it’s the context thing I was blabbing about on my David Bowie album review.
I’ve heard of Hana ACBD for a while now; since Shalla’s dabbled in illustration I wondered for a bit if she’s heard of her. No, turns out. Anyway, this is the first song I’ve heard of her. This just came out last week – hat tip to Vandals on the Wall, who premiered this – and what I particularly like about “Reverie” is the clash between two sounds that, while not really disparate, tend to not go together because, well, things. The quiet, lo-fi production always ends up paired with a coo, but Hana’s vocals are as sweet as that of a little girl learning to play guitar. It’s not totally unexpected, but it’s refreshing, and most importantly, it lures you in.
Finally, a word about Filipino bands performing abroad, which isn’t an entirely new thing, of course. But this weekend sees Cheats perform at the Singaporean leg of the Laneway Festival, the first Filipino band to do so – and that’s a big deal, considering how Laneway’s become this showcase for indie acts in the region. (They also released a new song early this month.) Flying Ipis, however, is on the verge of something arguably more momentous: they have been invited to perform at this year’s South by Southwest, that monster of an event in Austin, TX. In the grand scheme of things, this really makes you legitimate to a particular subset of tastemakers. And it’s not just a success for Flying Ipis, but for Filipino music in general. I’m quite excited about this: the all-girl four-piece have this curious energy live – not exactly sexual, not exactly rowdy, just something – that really grabs you by the neck. They’re blogging about their progress here; with little over a month to go there are funds to raise and papers to arrange. Fingers crossed they make it. [NB]