I sat down to eat breakfast (at 3 in the afternoon, no less!) and saw a Facebook post from someone I look up to. They mused about people who saw us but refused to look at us. Far from random strangers on streets who look past us, it was about arts scenes, communities, and people in close quarters who obviously knew that we exist and yet refuse to include us in their spheres of influence and build relationships with us.
There will be the outright rejections (“we really think you’re overqualified for who we’re calling for,” someone wrote non-verbatim in 2013), but the most annoying ones would be the obvious cliques and exclusive spaces that people build around them, whether intentional or not. (I would vote on the former for most of the time, if not all). As an artist of colour, I call out fundamental flaws on how creative flows unfold. Relying on close friends to create work, it turns out, is a form of nepotism. It’s colonial practice. We Filipinos know it too well from past colonizers, it’s an engrained system even in our present histories.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when a random musician from the Philippines invited me to contribute for an album release. The group wanted to release an album because of similar circumstances: institutions do not acknowledge the work that they want to do, nor provide spaces for them to thrive. Others would even dare call out “elitist!” to reduce art into an outdated “high art-low art” binary and the resulting class analysis reductionism. Knowing the arts scenes back in the homeland, I’m deeply familiar with this particular scenario. Therefore, I was impressed with this cohort of new generation composers and musicians who would not only put their foot down to say “WE EXIST!” but also include me, an aging artifact (lol), join their ranks. Because of this, it also allowed fresh, new working relationships to emerge from scratch. It built new communities.
And so this new electroacoustic compilation album release dropped yesterday. Tunog Lata, the title blatantly deriding itself, identifies as sounds from/of a tin can, with screeches and noises that no one would tolerate. And yet, it’s a statement of defiance, a call-out from the status quo. Institutions have their own unique ways of dismissing niche practices — the homeland apparently needs to do more work with its multiplicity of “status quos.”
My offerings for the album include my electroacoustic works Weekend Rain (2021) and Hanggang sa Paglubog ng Araw (2016, rev. 2021). I guess there will be future blog entries to discuss them further.
The album offers thirteen tracks from five different composers, including me. The notion of the Filipino composer is now decentralized further — not everyone needs a degree to be called a “composer.” What does it mean to “compose” music? The confines of the pen and paper no longer bound praxis. What does it mean to be a “Filipino composer?” It might as well be being outside national sovereign borders, making sure that the concept of “nationality” or “citizenship” loses its potency and validity for future creative agencies. I like quoting a former mentor for that matter: “The whole world might as well be Asia.”
CNN Philippines writes about the album:
…if you’ve ever wondered what Callalily would sound interpolated via a Baroque classical sensibilities, but on synthesizers, then this is for you.
This is one of the many surprises on MusiKolektibo’s experimental compilation “Tunog Lata,” featuring works by experimental and contemporary classical composers. The Philippines itself has a rich and storied undercurrent of avant garde music, which yields plenty of imaginative and unorthodox experiences to the interested listener.CNN Philippines, “Lend Your Ears: New Music from The Dawn, Oh, Flamingo! and more”, February 1, 2023.
Read the CNN Philippines feature HERE.
Exhibiting musical machinations, invokes surreal soundscapes, and reflects on the material world — disjunct from mainstream attitudes — this aural showcase features executions of morphed acoustic expressions, poetry, satire, electronic orchestrations, and sampled historical broadcasts. This is Tunog Lata, now out exclusively on Bandcamp for purchase.
Click HERE to buy and listen to the album on Bandcamp.