BLASTER SILONGA, My Kosmik Island Disk
The debut album of IV of Spades lead guitarist Blaster Silonga is as homemade as it is homegrown, a product of being locked down during the Covid-19 pandemic. But, curiously, “My Kosmik Island Disk” does not feel confined or raging against involuntary confinement.Its overall ambience hints of playfulness with music that ranges from electronic to hard rock. Scratch the sonic mischief though and the lyrics stand out to possess poetic grace. In “Huwag Mabahala” comes this couplet: “Ang lahat ng bagay ay magiging alaala/at magsisilbing sandata’t mga balang pangamba.” Blaster is one cosmic son of a gun!
TIDAL, Sunday’s Best
The band Tidal plugs shoegaze-y sounds in their excursions into emo-rock territory and it often sounds good and vital. There’s a deft touch to spiraling guitars colluding with rumbling backbeat to fashion music that’s loud and exhilarating in the same eddy. It’s just that the vocalist appears to be hurling veiled threats and invectives at an anonymous ‘you’ right from opening track. For instance, his idea of goodbye is a slurred “Thanks for nothing. You can take your lies and shove (them) down your throat.” Pretty music in the service of sad unfortunate words is a fool’s errand.
ARTISTA NG REBOLUSYONG PANGKULTURA (ARPAK), Walang Panginoon Ang Lupa
This compilation breaks the activist manifesto into the rock era. No more kundiman or quiet folk music to inflame the cause of encircling the city from the countryside. There’s rap, heavy metal, electro rock, and hardcore punk in this boiling cauldron of revolutionary sentiments. For the most part, the tracks focus on the exploitation of farmers and the need to shake up the system not just with customary reforms from the top. The other systemic malaises, imperialism and bureaucratic capitalism, are in there too to make the whole affair the heaviest album you’ll hear this holiday season.
SPECIAL INTEREST, Endure
What’s of special interest in this record is its reboot of the harder, faster industrialized disco and funk that came after the initial revolt of punk way back when. It is club music in the present tense wrapped around contemporary issues of women empowerment and the end of inequality. Meaning, you can dance and rave to drugless catharsis in such epic butt shakers as “”Midnight Legend,” “My Displeasure” and “Kurdish Radio.” While not an evolution in sound, “Endure” matches an urgent agenda with urgent beats and rhythms.
MAKAYA McCRAVEN, In These Times
Drummer Makaya McCraven has been critically hailed as one of the best arguments why jazz still matters and on his latest release, he shows how his mastery of the beat can lift up ordinary themes to extraordinary heights. On his latest album, McCraven’s drumming pushes the sweet jazz melodies on “High Fives” to jam band propulsion. In “Seventh String,” the streetbeat undercurrent energizes the slow unraveling of the main theme. The piano sonata in “The Knew Untitled” gets excited by skittery hiphop backbeat. Just like these transformative times, McCraven is helping redirect jazz to new fascinating zones.
BRIAN ENO, Foreverandevernomore
The ambient music originator and experimental music designer sings! And he’s singing about climate change and the possible end of civilization. In an interview, Eno shared, “I’ve been thinking about our narrowing, precarious future, and this music grew out of those thoughts.” A lot of the songs on the album are on the downbeat side and record starter “Who Gives a Thought” just about clues you in on the rest of the artist’s current concerns with its opening lines, “Who gives a thought about the fireflies/Short lives of moving light/Perform their quiet flight/The stars of starless nights.” It’s way more moving than crying out loud in international confabs.
Check out the music on most digital platforms, especially bandcamp.