38 minutes, in the new age, is an awfully short amount of time. There are showers and jeepney rides that last longer than 38 minutes. A Game of Thrones episode usually takes an hour, and so is falling in line on the MRT North Station between 7am to 9am. Foreign Languages, tide/edit’s first full-length album, is 38 minutes in length. But time, as this record exemplifies, is an abstract concept.
A common impression on tide/edit’s music is that it has a strong resemblance to Japanese post-rock band, Toe, which the band has cited as an influence, and from which they have drawn much inspiration with their songwriting, along with many similar-sounding acts. While it is so, the principles of creating an instrumental album of this caliber are generally the same: evoking and sustaining emotions. If there is any type of music that’s entirely open to interpretation, it all falls under the instrumental music category: whether in classical, electronic, or traditional form. A band can only give an idea (or ideas), a small window to their minds, as to what exactly they are feeling during the songwriting process. The rest is up to the listeners. When tide/edit released their first EP, aptly titled Ideas in 2012, it was a debut of graceful, complex rhythms that maximized guitar work and percussions. Their brand of ‘happy music’, as they define it in their online pages, is indeed more cheerful compared to other post-rock bands mushrooming in the scene. For one, they do not linger on their songs. On average, a track clocks right out at 4 minutes, tops. The sonic impact is present on the get-go. It was only a question on how tide/edit can develop more on this technique and how else can they surprise an audience.
The band’s follow-up to Ideas is a remarkable effort that delivered the same elements, yet has evidently expanded their musical template much further. Here, ‘happy music’ equates exhilarating chord progressions, a fully amped drum section, thicker bass sounds, and a distinctive kinetic quality to Foreign Languages that shifts relentlessly until you find yourself running out of breath. Listening to the first few notes of the opening track, ‘Ten’, feels like an airplane gaining altitude, or how one would imagine skydiving feels like: when all you can feel and hear is the strong gust of wind and adrenaline is filling up your entire system. ‘Always Right, Never Left’ follows suit, with the lead guitars melodically thrusting through at the right moments, alternating in force, as if you’re warming up for a marathon. With ‘Another Yes’, however, tide/edit spared no expense with regards to its guitar arrangement, all string instruments complementing each other, with the drums jostling right in place. The same can be said with ‘Dog Years’, one of the standouts in the album, which bore some traces from ‘Pagbangon’ – a cut from their first EP. This particular track feels like a run-through of a busy day: everything going in warp speed, blurring out the important details of our lives unless we go back and run them again like a motion picture in our mind.
If there’s anything certain about this new record, it’s that tide/edit’s sound has become fuller, and more importantly, self-aware. Tracks like ‘Odd & Even’, ‘I’m Angry Too’, and ‘Nicholas’ do not just serve as the brawn of Foreign Languages, but equally, the human element at its core. There’s thoughtfulness on their ode to typhoon victims in ‘HAIYAN’, vulnerability in ‘Was It a Cat I Saw?’ and ‘Was It a Rat I Saw?’ – which if you listen to both, one after the other, has a serene quality in it that delves into something deeper, something reflective. But among the others, there is a contrast between ‘Technicolor’ and ‘Northernmost’ – arguably two of the strongest tracks from the album, which also goes hand in hand. ‘Technicolor’ is aggressive, thunderous, even. If there’s a single track that encompasses all the passion poured into and made out of this album, this would be it. Meanwhile, ‘Northernmost’ has an earnest demeanor in it and is also intuitive. It serves as a fitting culmination to all the tracks prior to it, as if the slower sections of the song bid goodbye.
When frontman Clarence Garcia was asked on how they generally name their songs, he said that there were no specific criteria the band followed, but was done more on the sake of naming the songs. Foreign Languages,however, does not sound entirely foreign at all. It’s a personification of the emotions we are all familiar with. That of joy, sorrow, pain, and much more – the sound of feelings.
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