CD reviews: Latest from Squid 9, Janice Javier, Brisom

Posted at 07/13/14 12:46 PM

Janice Javier
"Janice Javier"

One of the singing divas in "The Voice of the Philippines" Season 1 finals, Janice Javier crooned and cried her big heart out to keep pace with eventual champion Mitoy Yonting. It’s the soulful quality and the range of Janice’s voice, ably honed to perfection by "The Voice" coach Apl.de.ap, that provided a constant challenge to Mitoy’s hard rocker tone.

On her debut album, however, Janice or her record label preferred to push largely for the soulful quality of her voice over her diva range. For the most part, her covers of “The Greatest Love of All,” “Dust In The Wind” and “I Believe I Can Fly” settle into the comfort of tender balladry. In them, she expresses a yearning that’s almost spiritual in tone.

All the tension in her soulful voice explodes in the ecstatic release of the final track, “Chain of Fools.” The upsurge starts midway through the album. Her collaboration with apl.de.ap, an original EDM-bopping “Breathe,” offers a first peek of her diva potentials channeled through a frisky dance tune. The next peak comes with her unusually fiery rendition of John Lennon’s otherwise somber “Imagine” before the dam finally breaks two tracks later with her feisty version of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.”

In effect, Janice is just offering juicy samples of what her malleable voice can do. Next time, she might want to venture into uncharted territories like the Pinoy neo-soul movement or lend some love to the sagging image of Pinoy jazz.



Take the first three letters of vocalist/guitarist Brian Sombero’s given name and surname, and you’ve got the name of the five-man band he fronts.


Consider the sound of Brisom-associated bands Menaya, Orphanlily and Silent Sanctuary plus a host of pop-rockers that came in the wake of the Eraserheads and you only get half of the possible music Brisom can muster.

Their recently released five-song EP, available at buyer-dictated price on bandcamp, is a quicker introduction to this emerging indie band. “Muted In Color,” the latest single off the mini-album, is already gaining raves as one of the top OPM songs of the year. It’s actually a bright blend of hummable riffs, sing-along lyrics and Brian’s confident voice.

“Will I” features ‘80s U2-approved guitar tones, “Day After Day” detours into ‘80s R&B, while “Waking Lives” cross-references U2 by way of Dean’s December. The last track, the original version of “Will I,” is a killer Pinoy rock anthem for all seasons.


Squid 9

Released in a USB drive contained in a metal can, "Origamidi" from Squid 9 (Sandwich guitarist/vocalist Raimund Marasigan’s many alter egos) mixes surprising product packaging with unexpected sound design. Could he be emulating the late Andy Warhol?

In an interview, Raimund said he produced the album by his lonesome using samplers, drum machines and synths tucked away in his basement. Right there, it could be assumed that with "Origamidi," Squid 9 is continuing his love affair with ‘80s synth pop.

Solo Raimund’s latest release, however, isn’t just run-of-the-mill recollection of one’s fading memory of OMD, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. He must also have fond memories of the outer edges of ‘80s electronica and that has to be the tipping point in the relevance of "Origamidi" today.

“Gulong” is post-punk bachelor’s pad soundtrack. “Laptop” operates in guitar-free rock and roll mode, marred by rubber band twangs and other weird noises. “Alikabok” is drum n bass whose blues sneaks up from lyrics about a return to dust.

“Gabing Walang Hanggan and “Imbento” would fit in any Sandwich recordings but “Impake” is one moody heartbreak song from a typically happy-go-lucky music man.

Once more, Squid 9 squirts music of diverse hues and varied moods.


"Far Beyond Driven"
(20th Anniversary Edition)

In 1994, just as Metallica was taking thrash metal to its commercial (read tamest) apex, Texas heavyweights Pantera fronted by Phil Anselmo countered with their harshest yet most appealing album to capture the true temper of the times.

The band’s seventh album, "Far Beyond Driven," made the point that despite Metallica’s new-found success then, heavy metal obsessed with volume and noise has a mainstream audience.

Twenty years later today, Pantera’s lightning in a bottle still sends thunderbolts of excitement as evidenced by a two-CD commemoration of the thrash metal classic. CD 1 contains flashbacks to the feral intensity of “Strength Beyond Strength,” “I’m Broken,” “5 Minutes Alone” and “Becoming” plus a trippy cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.”

CD 2 takes Pantera’s metal apocalypse in a live setting that would have smashed any stinking hippie, or ragged zombie within hearing distance.