BY MC GALANG AND IAN URRUTIA
This week’s edition of New Music We Love includes new releases from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.
We take solace in the fact that art remains unimpeded and, in many ways, our sole source of emotional stability. We at The Rest Is Noise are eternally grateful to all artists who continue to create and provide our minds and souls spaces for us to find refuge in for a little while.
Dispatch from Manila
We’re in the second week of the “enhanced community quarantine” in the Luzon islands in the Philippines, which is essentially a lockdown, as part of national efforts to contain the COVID-19 transmission. For many of us, this means staying at home, working remotely, and, depending on where you live, having a very limited and/or designated hours to go outside (without mass transport) to buy home essentials.
However, for millions of people who depend on daily wages, the homeless, and those with limited or no access to safe, drinking water, food, and medicine (not to mention, we have to grapple with the start of dry season, i.e. summer), among other vital needs, they’re subjected to more dangerous circumstances and greater exposure to the virus.
Wherever you are in the world and have extra money to spare, please consider donating to our fellow kababayans through these various efforts—we highly encourage prioritizing non-government organizations. The Philippine government has taxpayers’ money, so we urge to redirect your donations elsewhere that needs it more, and immediately.
We’re also facing a depletion of the blood bank due to the steep decline of voluntary blood donors, so our healthcare workers, on top of attending to patients, are also donating blood. For those who qualify to donate, please refer to this post for more information. Those who live outside the national capital region can get in touch with their local Red Cross for details.
Found new artists you like? During these times, we urge everyone to consider helping musicians whose means of living are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stream and/or purchase their music, buy merchandise, commission them for work, or find other available ways you can help. Stay safe and always practice proper hand-washing and social distancing. Be vigilant and let’s continue to look for each other safely and responsibly.
‘Pera Pera’ – Kartel (prod. Arbie Won) (PH)
A sobering start to this week’s #NMWL is proof of hip-hop’s utility (and music and art in general) as a sharp and incisive call to action of speaking truth to power—the artist’s duty.
On “Pera Pera,” Filipino emcees Tala and Ilaya, collectively known as Kartel, tackles capitalism, traditional politics, and a power structure ruled by self-interest. The single is due to be part of UPRISING’s upcoming release, Kontrapunto.
‘Ibagsak (feat. LEURK)’ – Jon Bonifacio (PH)
The final track on Filipino rapper Jon Bonifacio’s latest EP, Tatlong Salot, is an attempt to forcefully convey, rightfully, the mounting frustration and anger towards the imperialistic approach of the Philippine government to address a national crisis, and once again, putting the interests of the select few over the people it swore to serve.
On top of the public health crisis (that up to now, it has miserably failed to address swiftly), Jon Bonifacio eerily reminds us on the Selena DC-produced “Ibagsak” that the Chinese government continues to quietly defy the arbitration ruling that we won. In fact, China recently established two new research stations in the West Philippine Sea, according to news reports on March 23. These locations are all PH-claimed reefs.
The call to end fascism and imperialism continues, and we will remember all these transgressions.
Stream his EP on Soundcloud
‘Sagittaurus’ – Skinny Chase 스키니 체이스 (KR)
Skinny Chase released his latest LP, King of Comedy, earlier this week—a classic martial arts-inspired boombap project that has its moments of Korean R&B and West Coast funk flair.
On lead single “Sagittaurus,” the South Korean rapper explores a relationship unraveling through memories of better times, idleness, and resentment.
Stream King of Comedy on Spotify
‘Waking Up’ – DB tha Girl (PH)
The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine had Filipina rapper DB tha Girl contemplating on her own “waking up 3 years ago.” Along with other Filipino emcees, she participated in a wordplay challenge that aims to list down words and phrases that rhyme with “Coronavirus,” including:
grow a garden
crone in cyphers
along the bypass
fear is heightened
snakes and phytons
‘Sandclock’ – Sdewdent & Voision Xi (CN)
“Sandclock” is the first collaborative single by Shanghai-based singer-songwriter Voision Xi and producer Sdewdent. The latter states that the track is inspired by “all-time classics,” ranging from Yussef Dayes & Alfa Mist’s ‘Love Is The Message’, Common & J.Dilla’s ‘Time Travellin (A Tribute To Fela)’, Mansur Brown’s ‘Straight To The Point’, Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu)’s ‘Joint 17’ and Kamasi Washington’s ‘Street Fighter Mass’—highlighting distant chords, immediate drum grooves, some modular synth textures, and a loose, but strong, bassline.
‘Muddy Waters’ – Delinquent Society (PH)
We almost missed this release from Davao-based hip-hop group Delinquent Society, a broody cut that traipses their individual and collective journey, a nod to their believers and naysayers, and realizing the climb to the peak only continues.
Reissue: ‘SSS Koffee’ [self-titled] (PH)
The reissue of a classic soul-funk record from one of the shapers of Filipino disco and Manila Sound, SSS Koffee, is now available on Bandcamp and limited edition 7″ vinyl via Philippine-based I FOUND It! Records.
For the uninitiated, SSS Koffee are “one the hardest working bands in the Asian music circuit, [they] performed regularly in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and different nightclubs in Manila and Olongapo City during the late ’70s up to mid-’80s. The band mastered their chops playing in different bands for nightclubs mostly catering to U.S. servicemen stationed in Asia.”
The self-titled EP is the “only known recorded musical output from the band” and came out of a low-budget recording session, which yielded two singles, the funk number “Gogoy (Live It Up)” and a soul cut, “I want you to know”—sang in Tagalog and English verses.
Band leader Andre Wilson (also of funk outfit D’Howlers) recalls the reason why there was no follow-up, “We were busy rehearsing and touring because that’s our bread and butter. We hardly had time to go into a studio and lay down some tracks.”
During its first pressing, the EP was “mostly given away as promo for the radio stations and sold at gigs so getting a copy was not easy.”
As of writing, there are only five copies (out of 300) left. Order now.
‘Day’ – It’s Your Fault 問題總部 (TW)
The music video of Taiwanese soul band It’s Your Fault 問題總部’s latest single, “Day,” is a gorgeously stylized visual narrative that contrasts the quietness, latency, or sometimes dull repetitiveness of our daily lives.
The band is due to release their first full-length album mid-2020.
Stream their music on Spotify
‘施比受有福’ U&I 你我 (TW)
Taipei-based U&I 你我 describes their music as a “new generation orchestra” that combines electronica, post-punk, and psychedelic rock. Their single, “施比受有福” (Blessing) takes inspiration from Acts 20:35, which states that “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” also a deeply observed practice in Asian culture.
“施比受有福” (Blessing) is the lead single of their upcoming album 體兩面 (Two Sides of One).
The Sugar Junkies Side A EP – Good Morning Scott (PH)
Bulacan-based shoegaze duo Good Morning Scott parlays fuzz into the uneasiness of cabin fever with their latest 3-track EP, The Sugar Junkies Side A, part of a series of releases to be spread throughout the year.
Reissue: GREEN (LP) – Hiroshi Yoshimura (JP)
I’m extremely delighted to learn that the late Hiroshi Yoshimura, a pioneer in Japanese ambient music, continues to provide a much-needed refuge during these times through the reissue of one of his beloved recordings—and his favorite—GREEN, which features the original mix the master preferred himself.
Yoshimura is best known for his sound design and environmental music, gaining prominence with the 1982 release of Music For Nine Post Cards, and has been commissioned to compose and produce music for various multimedia platforms in Japan. Four years later, GREEN was “recorded over the winter of 1985-86 at Yoshimura’s home studio, the compositions unfold at an unhurried pace, a stark contrast to the busy city life of Tokyo. As Yoshimura explained in the original liner notes, the album title in the context of this body of work is not meant to be seen as a color, but is rather used to convey ‘the comfortable scenery of the natural cycle known as GREEN’—which perfectly encapsulates the soothing and warm sounds contained on the album, although it was created utilizing Yamaha FM synthesizers, known for their crisp digital tones.”
Purchase GREEN on vinyl via Bandcamp
‘Kupal – Illustrado (PH)
UPRISING Records’ Illustrado is set to release Bukas at Ngayon, the follow-up album to 2017’s underrated self-titled gem. “Kupal,” the first single off the highly anticipated record, lives up to the impact of the group’s best songs so far. It’s a total knockout that flips the script of talky cadences and animated punchlines, and turns the material into a one massive flex. Apo Lerma and Batas lay the groundwork for jazzy, minimalist production; their work immutable, but fundamentally defined by grace and perceptiveness.
‘The Witching Hour’ – Flowr Pit (ID)
Indonesian bedroom-pop artist Flower Pit makes slacker tunes that invite listeners to come over for a cabin retreat. Stripped to its bare essentials, his new track “The Witching Hour” resembles the state that we are in: stuck in perpetual loneliness, lingering in confusion and pain, but fighting for dear life even when things go uncertain. It’s a song that echoes our collective frustration in the time of coronavirus pandemic and class divide, a survival-against-odds kind of anthem that deserves repeated listens.
‘Say Goodnight’ – Lynel (PH)
It looks like Cebu is fast catching up as another hotbed of post-internet pop. Still new to the spotlight, Melt Records’ very own Lynel makes lo-fi music that smokes the hours away from sunshine. He recently released “Say Goodnight” on various streaming and digital platforms worldwide. Its shaggy appeal brings to mind early Mellow Fellow or Boy Pablo, with a production that is rough around the edges while brimming with so much promise and charm.
‘n.ie’ – Lost Spaces (MY)
Malaysia’s Lost Spaces has finally dropped “n.ie”—a slice of gossamer funk dipped in shimmering layers of disco and chillwave. There’s enough reason to stick around the song’s retro appeal. It’s slinky and unabashedly fun, treading into familiar ground with confidence that’s worth a flash dance.
‘Softly’ – Ysa Yaneza (SG)
The music video of “Softly” recalls early Britney Spears and Mandy Moore: an endearing piece of work that charms its way through American diners, bowling alleys, denim jackets, and anything you could think of in a pop culture timeline somewhere between late ‘90s TRL and your first Nokia phone. The visuals are perfectly paired with PC Music-inspired bubblegum pop, where artifice doesn’t seem performative at all, but functions more like an authentic way of how you define fun.
‘LAGOON’ – Big Hat Gang (PH)
Big Hat Gang retraces his steps towards instrumental synth-pop on “Lagoon,” a new track that serves as an even finer introduction to the electronic musician’s retro-futurist approach. Check out this deceptively sparse cut with fantastic visuals from Zoopraxi Studio. Proceeds of the collaborative work will benefit Kaya Natin! Movement.