I was ready to call Takipsilim, the surprise new EP from Autotelic, a necessary refinement of their sound. I had many reasons to like their last album but had difficulty with both the length and the lack of a satisfying arc. But then this EP also seems to be populated, in part, by songs that didn’t make that album’s final cut – or at least that’s the case with “Papunta Pabalik”, which shares a name with that album. But all that rumination diminishes the steps forward the band takes here. Takipsilim doesn’t alter Autotelic’s sound drastically, but it allows them (and me) to articulate it better. The title track actually helped me define it better: it reminds me of early True Faith both in the build-up, in pop sensibility and its sense of sophistication. I’ll even say the five tracks in the record feel like they have more direction, even “Kahit”, which at five and a half minutes made me panic a bit – the song lengths pulled Papunta Pabalik down – but rewarded with an effectively downbeat ballad. They’ve stocked up goodwill here – even the final track, which should also stick out, feels just right here. (Why didn’t it make the final cut?) I’ll say Autotelic have learned their lessons, and are continuing to do so: Takipsilim is a good indicator of what’s to come. [NB] | 4/5
As one of the few indie bands in this time period to have successfully (by some measures) crossed over to the other side, so to speak, there’s a lot of anticipation surrounding Autotelic’s new album. For the most part, Papunta Pabalik delivers: with a keen sense of pop it delivers almost fifty minutes’ worth of apparent sunshine with a lurking sense of despair lying underneath. I’d love to assume this decision reflects the whole mindset of keeping a happy face while letting every bad thing stew underneath (because, well, who wants to see that, right?) That said, I was looking for shade. Songs may start on varying notes, but everything ends on this upbeat, relentless sunny vibe – not exactly sing-along, but almost there – that quashes the gravitas I was looking for. Not that I wanted a very serious album, but, you know, it felt like watching a crime procedural: you have the characters, but you keep on seeing plots that start a certain way and almost always ends up resolved at the end. Didn’t help the songs average five minutes, too. I should at least appreciate the funky undertones, but the lack of a natural ending just got in the way. [NB] | 3/5
“Unstable” by Autotelic | I will be the first to admit – and I always have, I believe – that, despite being a so-called music blogger, I have a lot of catching up to do with local music. I don’t know what happened. Did my musical tastes shift? Did my exposures change? How come ten years ago it felt so natural, but now it feels like I’m barging into a party nobody has the intention to invite me to? Anyway, in an effort to play up this so-called blog’s local music coverage I’ve been working on a Twitter list of local acts of all persuasions. Already I’ve seen new releases from indie darlings She’s Only Sixteen and The Miles Experience through that, but today I’m writing about Autotelic, because I have seen them live once. I still think they could be a really big thing if they debuted ten years ago. Their sound reminds me of the accessible kind of pop-rock that permeated the time, but smart and well-observed. You’ve likely heard this song live. I might have; I don’t recall. It is, again, smart, the confused message slyly undercut by that vaguely disco-y rhythm. It really could cut through, but then again, in the past ten years the party ceased to be for anybody who’s interested, so this sort of thing, sadly, remains mostly undiscovered. [NB]
Friday night’s Jack TV MAD Fest was, arguably, a festival built around the fact that they got Kimbra to perform. I mean, save for the four DJs that followed her – I didn’t watch them for obvious reasons, and also because Rainy and I were really tired – the acts were limited to three songs each. But it was a nice way to be reacquainted with the best Filipino music has to offer: a good mix of established acts and new ones bubbling under, making you wonder what the hell happened to “OPM is dead”? So, in the following paragraphs, my five highlights, plus a quick run through the rest.