6 influential OPM albums turning 10 this 2018

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These local releases do not merely remain fixed in memory but are expressed in various permutations to this day despite their decade-old release dates. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The year 2008 appeared to be a transitional year for the local music scene. Ten years ago, artists made the conscientious decision to make use of burgeoning online platforms such as Myspace Music and Bandcamp, and venues such as SaGuijo and Route 196 were still in the process of becoming established.

There was a significantly lower number of artists; it was not uncommon for productions to run through a roster of less than 10 artists and for the performers themselves to make up majority of the audience. Independent acts had a smaller range of followers — social media did not possess the same amount of power it has today, but performances were always vibrant, communal, and built from scratch (read: corporations were not interested in capitalizing on the underground yet).

It seems strange to begin the year looking back instead of ahead, and this list is not meant to bemoan the present and romanticize the past, but to consider how the current crop of artists created their own precursors and how six influential local releases do not merely remain fixed in memory but are expressed in various permutations to this day despite their decade-old release dates.


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“Bipolar” by Up Dharma Down

“Bipolar” could very well represent the turning point of UDD’s [then known as Up Dharma Down], fully articulating the promises of “Fragmented,” their 2006 debut, and containing the vectors to come into expression in “Capacities.” In their sophomore effort, they embraced a more angular, textural dimension of their sound, imbuing their singles with experimental structures and bringing electronics to the forefront of their writing process. “Biploar” is dense and pulsing, wholly unpredictable and expertly crafted. It is a record that is of its context and one that reaches far beyond it.

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“Bring Your Friends” by Ciudad

Ciudad is responsible for some of the catchiest hooks to grace the airwaves, and their 2008 release “Bring Your Friends” is teeming with infectious choruses and lingering melodies. “Bring Your Friends” is indie pop at its finest with the awkward charm of Weezer, the tragicomic lyricism of The Magnetic Fields, and the irrepressible wit of Belle and Sebastian. Ciudad feels like they have been around forever, but this is by no means a knock against their nostalgic tunes, but a celebration of their apparent timelessness.

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“Dragzbanny” by Eggboy

“Dragzbannyfinds Diego Mapa juxtaposing the maximalist tendencies of his collaborative projects Monsterbot and Pedicab with the inward pull of solo efforts. The EP is a wild, synaesthetic romp through exploratory electronic soundscapes, introspective utterances, and a series of contrasting textures. In the work of Eggboy, genre is utilized not as an aesthetic but a method of inquiry into structure, texture, and expression.

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“Hell Is the Place Where Flames Grow” by Twin Lobster

Nick Lazaro’s work as a producer and as a member of the acclaimed electronic band Moonwlk has been prefigured by his earlier venture as the vigorous frontman of Twin Lobster, a seminal band with an indefinite genre. Twin Lobster situates their turbulent energy within the narrow confines of space. Points and counterpoints, noise and silence are used to their fullest capacities. In “Hell Is the Place Where Flames Grow,” space is turned into an instrument (or even a weapon) that accentuates the affective crests and troughs in each song, complementing and interrupting established patterns. The guitar work is frenzied and urgent, the bass is rhythmic and suave, the beats are jagged and chaotic, and the vocals vacillate between soporific and intense.

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“<S> Marks the Spot by Sandwich

“<S> Marks the Spot” is a sprawling, expansive record that interacts with convergent and divergent genres, as Sandwich works with a strong sense of history (as evidenced by tracks like “Betamax,” one of their most resonant singles). The album is arguably Sandwich’s most consistently potent, idiosyncratic, and surprising, containing climactic and cathartic arrangements, hooks aplenty, and sparkling production.

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“Themesongs by Ang Bandang Shirley

Ang Bandang Shirley’s “Themesongs” harps on a series of eclectic references, popular utterances, and ingenious arrangements, verging on the territory of the sweet without being saccharine, on the maudlin without being melodramatic. “Themesongs” finds a way to appropriate elements of twee, indie pop, and conventional radio-friendly music without fully committing to the confines of any genre, constructing bridges where there were none, articulating general sentiments through the specificities of eleven expertly written tracks.


Update: This article has been updated to include the 2008 releases of Sandwich and Ang Bandang Shirley.