BY MC GALANG
When Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election in 2016, I sat in front of my desk at work motionless for a moment, as latest reports populate my Facebook newsfeed citing the rising death toll less than five months into Rodrigo Duterte’s term. I was overcome with anxiety and sought the most immediate form of relief I know in that moment: I plugged my earphones in and put Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” on repeat for the entire day.
The way we process our emotions is inextricable from sounds, and how we memorialize our experiences is through what we perceive. These feelings of fearfulness, sadness, anger, and hopelessness, to me, are what feels like the foundation upon Sound Architects’s latest album, Regenesis, are based on. They are immediate and palpable, more imperative than declarative.
This type of emotional distress is communal, pervasive, and disruptive: a phenomenon global in scale but has become a personal torment. According to a Bandwagon Philippines interview, the post-rock band was “inspired” by Cambridge Analytica’s nefarious work in cultivating a messianic image of Duterte as a strongman, using the “cross-cutting issue of crime to rebrand the client as a strong, no-nonsense man of action.” The consequences of amorality are no longer incidental plots in dystopian fiction, but now the core of everyday reality increasingly embedded in our routines coursed through technology, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle, as well as the deterioration of fact as irrevocable, established truth.
Sound Architects’ sophomore album integrates moods and modes with spaces, deliberate in its intent, such with the opening track, “Ignition Sequence,” manifesting adrenaline-inducing speed and the slow disintegration unraveling in “Containment Failure.”
The album’s longest and most sweeping track, “Temple of God,” swells with tension as it bares the title’s impetus: power so menacing it can delude others to equate might (or beauty) with being good. The part that stuck out to me during its nine-minute run is the ghostly undercurrent along the 5th-minute mark, a subtle touch that can otherwise be lost in lesser hands. Which is why it is hard to overlook long-time collaborator, Earthmover’s Daniel Garcia, being credited as the band’s only other co-producer on the album. Earthmover’s 2015 four-track EP, First Sighting, remains to be one of the most consequential works in the genre from the last decade.
“Syndicates,” “Observers,” and “Advent” are inarguably the most austere pieces from the Regenesis, both in manner and structure. “Advent” serves its job as the penultimate track to the album closer and title track, “Regenesis,” which aptly rises like a phoenix from the ashes, almost with gossamer quality in structure.
As the album fades, I was vividly reminded of a video I saw—on Facebook, nonetheless—of a data sculpture created by artist Refik Anadol called “Melting Memories,” which combines neuroscience, art, and technology to transpose brain wave activity into “procedural noise forms,” creating multi-dimensional visual structures on display. It stirred strange emotions I wasn’t accustomed to associate with technology and data mining, for all the evil institutions it almost always predicates, but there it was: beauty in power, life in stillness—a renaissance of self.