Reticence: Thoughts on Instrumental Music

The power behind instrumental and electronic music is transcendental. There’s a thousand of possibilities a musical instrument can create. The convergence and marriage, if you must, of traditional equipment and technology are breaking all sorts of norms. The mixture of rawness and control, thundering decibels, the pumping and smashing slays of guitars which thump ghostly vocals refusing to simper behind, and its ability to overturn the earth’s axis in a matter of minutes. The wordlessness amplifies every height and depth of emotion, resurrects forgotten feats, rediscovers innocence, and breaks the chain of numbness.Note that when I say ‘instrumental music’ does not mean, nor it is limited to classical music. It spans all genres across borders. Not to stray too far ahead are our very own bands and acts from home. First, Encounters with a Yeti, cutting through stones and stripping pretensions with their music. From the first few innocent strings of ‘Alloys Bring The Future Together’ to the somber tinkering and later, trailblazing lines of ‘All Your Children Want For Dinner Is You’, their debut album, Pilot, is a rapture of cosmic proportions. And speaking of the cosmos, Earthmover translates unearthly sounds in human sound waves with their dark, brooding, and heavy arrangements. The trick is that they propel us into the vast unknown, leave us suspended mid-space, then let gravity pull us back to the ground – slowly. Not too far behind is Hatchobanko, with a spectrum of longing, melancholy tracks. You are left vulnerable, spinning towards a vacuum of ruminating sounds – profoundly sampled in ‘Onward Came The Meteors’. But probably the one with the lightest approach from this short lineup is tide/edit, whose music is a little more crafted in numbers, not too loose, not too tight, and spared with high-water marks. They somehow tip the scale to balance out and smooth the edges of post-rock’s rough origin. The common ground with these bands is that they play along the lines of emotions buried in the deepest arsenal of our soul. Sounds mighty, semi-poetic and half-corny, I know. Emotions are murky and messy bits of life, but when they are reenacted through music, we still patronize and commune with it.

Its close relative, ambient music, is as powerful, as it is less aggressive and less taxing. In fact, its effect is sometimes frosting, and oftentimes, sedating. Its dreamy effects, 808s and such, sashaying tempos, washed out allure, and dramatic crescendos swirl in a hazy fume that bind us in a convoluted state of mind. Sleepwalk Circus, although they employ vocals in their songs, delivers a chock full of dreamy synths and acoustic excursions, smoothing it in soulful jazz or zoning out in shoegaze fashion. Their first album, ‘The Great Secret Show’, falls under a canopy of scenic and vivid entendres. Beatmakers Tarsius, Modulogeek, SimilarObjects, Eyedress, Nights of Rizal, Love in Athens, and acts from Deeper Manila and Number Line Records, caught everyone in their pop maladies and surprised us with groundbreaking electronic music that used to be almost exclusively heard from the European and Nordic lands, if not for the Internet. This wave of DJs, armed with their turntables, controllers, mixing boards, and other gear transform their booth into a buoyant and trippy oasis of sounds. Their symbiosis is a stark display of cutting-edge talent and lavish, creative spins, rubs, loops, synths, and beats that aim to paint the jaded with aural colors that are guaranteed to excite one’s senses. Each one delivers a distinct style, and when combined together (such as the Synth City mixtape and Deeper Manila podcast), they just create an entirely different universe for their audience – definitely no zany antics mashed in.

Instrumental music may be reticent, if we are looking for words in it, we’ll definitely not find them written by the line for us. Instead, you’ll find them forming within yourself. Or maybe there’s too many emotions at play, everything is abstract, and too many words swim inside your head, there’s only so little time that you can fish to construct the most sensitive and personal string of words you had ever came up in your life. Or maybe it’s not through words that you can convey your thoughts, but in another medium. Nevertheless, it is NOT reticent or uncommunicative at all. When they say a picture speaks a thousand words, then instrumental/electronic music makes a library.

Support our local artists. Spread the word. Buy their music and/or merchandise, attend their gigs and shows. Say hi (they say ‘hi’ back :p). Keep our local music alive and rocking.

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