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Monday, February 20, 2006

Phylum: Classified alternative music

Phylum: Classified alternative music

They were once classified “Phylum Prodigals” to match their own kind of iniquities, so they revealed. In a matter of four months, a stream of awakenings engulfed them. Confessions had it that music touched them and offered a kind of healing from emotional torment. Like water, music created for them a path, a direction that led them to reinvention. Now, with a more mature approach to their musical ingenuity, the self-confessed Prodigals have metamorphosed into “Phylum”, classified “alternative music”.

Ian Raye Biñan (vocalist, a computer engineering student at the Cebu Institute of Technology), Charleston Miparanum (lead guitarist, BS Law graduate from the University of the Visayas), Ariel Junald Corcuera III (rhythm guitarist, a marine electronics technology stude at the Cebu Technological School), Anthony “Nene” Talledo (bass guitarist, nautical stude at the University of Cebu) and Josephus “Jojo” Talledo (drummer, nautical science stude at UC) are the voices and rhythms behind Phylum, with carrier track “Palagot sa Contra”, and other songs “Left Me, Luisita, Time Machine, E2Y-E2Y, Txtmyt, I’m Sorry, Scandal, Keep and Kaibigan” that have already received airplays via Smash FM here. The group produced the self-titled album themselves, with album cover graphics design provided by Cyberwhelz.

Donning the taxon “phylum” to stand for classification of life, the group segregates hymns and meanings in an order and a system that so speak of their earnest dream to burn 10 tracks which mirror their very own lives made diverse by experiences but glued together by the touch of music and its healing power to serve a better purpose. That which to understand the kind of understanding music itself has long offered us Chordates in an arrangement of notes and chords, like the ways of taxonomy that a genus must pair off with a specie.

Phylum members are “mag-cuzinz” (cousins) and “ka-berkz” (peers) who had their share of ups and downs having grown up at a common neighborhood, thus having known each other so well from childhood. Despite a helping of bitter memories, some dreams that never found their way yet, heartbreaks, and other tearjerker whatchamacallits, they manage to lean on to the promise that music has this ability to change lives for the better. And so they began getting serious about penning songs and executing these in live musical performances to express a collage of emoticons that are as funny and witty, cruel and cunning, passionate and driven as their personalities. Like most struggling musician-performers, they had their share of being booed, sneered, and jeered at, “like in Plaza Independencia, the most cruel of all venues,” recalls Ariel.

But somehow they managed to hold on to the end of the rope waiting for the tide to turn to the other side. Thanks to the art of composure and the inspiration given by their respective roots who were first in line to have explored this musical inclination. “Runs in the genes, modesty aside,” blurts out a bubbly Ian.

“Sa una boo-han mi kay mokanta mi ug Binisaya. May gani karon nausab na ang trend. Singgitan na sad mi nga Bisaya na puy tukaron (We used to get booed for singing in the vernacular. It’s a good thing the trend has changed. Now the crowd goes for Bisdak songs),” recalls the lawyer-in-the-making cum Phylum main man Charleston with a laugh.

Phylum the album was already launched over Smash FM days before this writer met them at the yard of Charleston’s ancestral house in Bontores, Basak, Cebu City for this desired interview. In a jamming session (sort of!), the gents gave in to my smooth prodding (is there an oxymoron, guys?) of song sampler done in the live manner. Minus synthesizers and other gadgets, the samples emanated from Anthony’s acoustic guitar. Ian hit the notes and the rest provided some musical choreography.

There is a zing as spontaneous as the songwriter himself, Charleston, in the track “Keep” which instantly became my favorite as the song offers the vow of security and of being wanted and of the privilege to belong, which is a wanton want of most incurable romantics.

If I were to make analogous the song “Txtmyt” to a movie genre, it is reversed black comedy I reckon. There is the embedded sense in its lines in the guise of humorous tones. The rest of the songs make play-ups of love stories. This to give musical form to various images of love situations.

Meanwhile, “Luisita” is tricky. Though the character is fictitious and has nothing to do with the Hacienda Luisita mess, it throws in a riddle after a zillion turns at your boomset. Though it has attacked a person’s worst physical features, it somehow exulted the beauty that exudes from within. If first heard, one would just see the plain girl Luisita, but on a broader picture it could stand for mankind itself and the irony on why most people tend to pick on the worst of every person, when it is easier to find the best in one.

Carrier track “Palaban sa Contra” is about the typical approach of “pasuya” (mode used by a person to make another person jealous/envious of just about anything) in between lovers who found their way, lost their way, and found their way in another’s way, but would still want to pick on lost ways.

Beleaguered by rampant piracy, Phylum chooses to distribute their music directly at P150 per CD. Yes, their compositions have already been copied illegally and distributed mostly at stalls in downtown Cebu (crackdown, anyone?).

The album, marked “Nostalgic Content”, comes with a tribal-inspired design, hooks that look more like pincers to stand for the functionality of Phylum’s music in touching fellow youths who might have been troubled by money matters, problems of the heart, the pressure to have a career, familial woes, and battering the I-don’t-seem-to-belong blues.

Phylum says it loud here to patrons, “let the Phylum pincers give you a clutch, as this is the music that will fasten you to the strong belief that amid the world’s backbreaking round of drudgery, doubt and misery, your dreams are just waiting to be realized. Aside from faith anchored in the Almighty, we have allowed music to take control and bring forth internal healing from all our woes. We prescribe the theme of love to you, however nostalgic our brand of songs may seem.”

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