A taste of Orange & Lemons, Kazaki, BuwanBuwan Collective and As We Defy

ORANGE & LEMONS

Love In The Land Of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream (15th Anniversary Edition)

COMMON wisdom suggests that a debut album is a glimpse into the artist’s potential for a top-notch greatest hits collection some years down the road. A first release will at least gather a clutch of hit singles on which to build a feasible musical career in the future. Orange & Lemons (O&L), which disbanded in 2007 and reformed in 2017 as a trio of Clem Castro (vocals/guitar), JM del Mundo (bass/backing vocals) and Ace del Mundo (drums/backing vocals), has just reissued a complete re-recording of their 2003 debut Love In The Land Of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream.

According to the band, the new album came out as a response to the clamor of their fans. Their press release even argued that, “an older, wiser Orange & Lemons is [now] in control…where Castro’s 2018 voice truly adds a layer of sophistication on the album, made more palpable with the defiant attitude of the del Mundo brothers.” Anybody who has listened to Castro’s solo indie debut of 2015 as Dragonfly Collector (The World Is Your Oyster), will also perceive its seamless production values seeping into Love in The Land…V2.0.

O&L’s 2003 album remains staunchly melodic, singularly focused and constantly engrossing. Arguably a millennial release, its sonics references The Smiths in the ‘80s, although also-rans The Housemartins would be closer brothers-in-sound, while its building blocks acknowledge British songwriting and pop sensibilities starting with The Beatles onward. In the upgraded format, Castro’s lyrics shine brighter and sexier. There’s no mistaking the craving to “make love in a world of vivid colors” in Just Like A Splendid Love Song and an equally heated cry for love in My Butterfly with “Take me with you and share the night with flaming passion/ You give in to my desire..”

Two new compositions, the country-and-western-tinged If I Could Speak My Mind and the darkly sensual Lovers Come, Lovers Go round out a reinvigorated re-release that still demands to be listened to from beginning to end.

To promote this record, O&L will hold a grand launch via an artist-curated mini-fair called Moonlane Festival on August 4 at Century City Mall in Makati City.

AS WE DEFY

Forged in Defiance

THE new group As We Defy consists of members of Pinoy punk pioneer Al Dimalanta’s previous band Throw with a new vocalist in tow. Dimalanta tells SoundStrip their very name is meant “to defy all our naysayers, all those who wanted to put us down, and those who want to silence the critics of the current powers-that-be.”It’s a brief introduction to the band in four tracks of unrelenting punk, hardcore and metal collision. A quick synth line opens the EP then an outpouring of grief rails against restrictions and blood-soaked nights. A parallel indignation rages in calls to take matters to the streets and the time is now.

The last track Kulay Dugo, however, paints a disquieting scenario where the unjust killings could numb the dispossessed into quiet submission: “Ito ba talaga ang gusto niyo?/ Mundo nati’y nagdidilim na/ Nagliliparan ang mga bala!” (Actually, the EP has an end-times vibe that’s difficult to shake. So, weep in defiance or forever gnash your teeth.)  Visit the band’s Facebook page for a free copy of their short, sharp blasting EP.

KAZAKI

Luna

KAZAKI is the adopted nom de musique of bedroom music-maker Kristel Cuadra. It’s a funny moniker, but you don’t scoff at it at first blush because behind the offbeat name is a rich discography of 44 releases over the last ten years.

Between January and June 2018 alone, Kazaki has released four EPs and a vocal track. That’s a mighty feat for a 26-year old Filipina who does everything by herself using a simple HP notebook, an old 2-in-1 microphone-webcam, and Internet connection.  She prefers arranging simply with the PC mouse to the more elaborate MIDI keyboard.

Her latest release, which came out last month, is the seventh part of her Colorless Being series focusing on a character named Luna who’s seeking a connection with a figure named eponymously with the album. Its Luna track moves to bouncy synth-pop spiced with videogame squiggles and martial beats. Mare, another synth-splashed number, has bleating horns and howls. Celo must be a pop-rocker with its sections of powerful keyboards play, thundering beats and techno-laced classical piano. Stormy ambient sounds and weepy strings color the “disco-fied” Tenebre. Released in March, Kazaki’s Rebuild Lost Utopia EP, which is the sixth part of the Colorless Being series, shakes and rattles to a more fully-formed agenda. It’s Been A Fun Good Space Trip is ready-for-primetime electro-disco with Cuadra affecting cool DJ/diva singer duality. Electro-rock rears its frenetic head in The Flyt Of Water On Board Island while Stars and Ladders is another slice of hands-in-the-air baiting EDM.

All of Kazaki’s 44 releases so far are available on her official Bandcamp page.

BUWANBUWAN COLLECTIVE

3K

“BUWAN-BUWAN”  refers to a traditional Filipino game that enacts A lunar eclipse. BuwanBuwan Collective is both an artists’ coalition and a record label of acts in the underground electronic music scene in the country. 3K is the Collective’s latest major sampler from its cadre of awesome electronica talents. Freely available on the Collective’s Bandcamp page, its 44 tracks span a rainbow of crosscutting genre contortions like lo-fi hip-hop, ambient electronic, introverted dance music, future beats and post R&B.

Critical descriptions are probably futile, but since there’s no right or wrong (only personal impressions…), here’s our elementary take on selected tracks. James Ussher’s Maybe is dub-reggae in wobbly electronica. Lustbass fuses lounge and soul handsomely in If u float away. Slodge issues mellow tones as drums beat like a jumpy turntable needle in Sometime. Ure My Favorite by Jp Hill puts forth a mellow jam between Stevie Wonder and Bob James. F.F.F. (favoritefloweretish) of Teenage Granny goes for weirdo ambient pop. Swollen Land by Maldoror enmeshes mechanical noises with natural sounds. Dolor, done by Lush Death, devolves and concludes the compilation to the screeching shrieks of a malfunctioning cement mixer or a failing fruit blender.

Informally, the first three quarters of the collection seems light, breezy and listenable in the conventional sense. On the other hand, the final eleven tracks can be discomfiting as experimental pieces, but without losing their hold on a forward-thinking audience.  BuwanBuwan Collective will present the Fete de la Musique Bedroom Beats Stage 2018 (Earth, Sun & Moon) at the Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen in Makati City on June 23.

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