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Pump up the volume with Acid Mothers Temple, Hilera, Squid 9, Eyedress, Against the Current.

SQUID 9, a name that suggests descent to some inky void, is an electronic trio led from head Sandwich Raimund Marasigan. The latest album is released on cassette.

Tracks like Sakura Leaves and Asthma Trax attempt to work up something sublime from a mesh of pop hooks, funky strut and repetitive beats that remind of Kraftwerk in their 'Computer World' incarnation. The image of a moving train waltzing on its tracks gives Railways its comic undertow underscored by a cartoonish pulse and a feverish synth line.

More effective is Frog Rest, which succeeds in conveying altered consciousness in a song cycle of quiet and disquiet. I am Milk is even better, all sunshiny gleam bathing in wispy textures, soft percussion and easily engaging melodies.

There's no shortage of surprising connections and connotations in Circuit Shorts.


Alone Time

MANILA-BORN recording artist Eyedress, aka Idris Vicuna,has been seducing an international fan base since the release of his sensational Shapeshifter album in 2015. He is currently signed to a major indie label in the UK.

His Bandcamp page cites his music to straddle punk, jazz, psychedelic and rap. His newest four-song EP entitled 'Alone Time' actually showcases all of those influences and then some. No Fun revels in old school punk or '60s garage rock-take your pick-flailing in Jonathan Richman Roadrunner rhythm. The electro-pop whoosh of Xenophobic is darkened by hints of descent to a Gothic underworld. Be a Better Friend grafts The Chameleons to the Depeche Mode bandwagon. The tinny-sounding guitars keep the song floating in new wave bliss rather than post-punk gloom.

In a review, a UK publication noted that Eyedress music comes from the future. Eyedress is currently on tour in the US.


The Other Way Around

ONCE upon a time, then-teen trio Hilera burst out into the local scene brimming with the rush of punk rock and innocence of early rock and roll. Their debut sounded fresh, fun and vital. Their music stood in opposition to the predictability of the legendary masters as well as the copycat mentality of indie rockers.

Now older and wiser, Hilera has put out an EP that will likely be dismissed as their coming-to-terms with the music business. Five of the six new tracks display a kind of vulnerability usually associated with confessional singer songwriters. The narrative passing from song-to-song is about the nature of young love, raised somewhat above the banality of boy band cuteness by Chris Padilla's squeaky-thin voice.

Just as you're ready to give up on them comes Rule The World, declaring that the past is fading fast, and they are the sons of no one, and the children of the world. There may be a clever reference to an '80s song by The Replacements, but what sticks out most is a peculiar shift in attitude at the end of the record. It's a curious turn-around among the sad laments and heartbreakers.


Past Lives

A FEMALE-FRONTED outfit, Against The Current displays the dazed romanticism of pop-punk's best years. Loads of mid-tempo tunes highlight the band's ability to craft attractive hooks while the affecting voice of lead singer Chrissy Costanza channels Britney Spears by way of Paramore's Hayley Williams.

In an interview, Costanza was quoted, 'In general, our music has progressed so much. We're a singer, a drummer and a guitarist but we no longer felt bound by those three things. We opened so many doors for ourselves because we stopped boxing ourselves in and being like 'this is the formula.''

If she's referring to the conventional power trio set-up, her band has certainly moved away from the 'power' factor and replaced the resulting 'vacuum' with a very strong commercial pop sensibility. What's on show is supreme allegiance to catchiness-pop's trump card-as evinced by the admirable melodies of The Fuss, the disarming refrain in Scream and the slow burn of Personal, which finds pouring her heart out to a cathartic conclusion.

Melody, introspection and musical color frame this lissome triad. They deal with the usual stuff bedeviling the thinking millennial like love and loss, existence, emotional disaster (and no, nothing on global warming) and Against The Current splashes these themes with musical clarity and warmth to place above the rest in more ways than one, or past their precedents in the pop-punk totem pole.

Granted, the other eight songs revolve around the creative aesthetics behind those three songs, slicing and dicing their major riffs to come up with mid-tempo songs with their own distinct appeal. It's one clever way of avoiding saccharine overload. Have fun.

Against The Current comes alive in Manila at the SM North Edsa Skydome on November 25.


Electric Dream Fantasy

WITHIN the context of progressive rock's long and tangled history, Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. plays the '70s traditionalist, refusing to be drawn into deathcore's depressive tones or post-rock's immersive spirals. With more than 120 albums under their belt, Japan's prolific space explorers retain a knack for ornamental layering, but without obscuring that there's an actual song underneath the dynamic superstructure.

From Planet Orb with Love Part 1 moves in gently played acoustic guitar, only to be swallowed by a cacophony of free jazz blasts, Hendrixian blow-ups and electronic squiggles. Sycamore Trees opens in dirge-like slowness then fast-forwards to some brain-melting orchestral maneuvers. Album standout Pink Lady Lemonade (Electric Dream Ecstasy) is intergalactic disco beamed from Mars circa 2075 AD.

Electric Dream Ecstasy is just a quick introduction to Acid Mothers Temple currently composed of master guru/guitarist Kawabata Makoto, drummer Satoshima Nani, bassist Wolf, synth man Higashi Hiroshi and vocalist Jyonson Tsu.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 18, 2018
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