CD reviews: Gloc-9's latest, Karl Roy's last

By Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Aug 26 2012 02:02 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2012 10:02 PM

Gloc-9
Mga Kwento Ng Makata

“Sirena,” the lead single off the new album also called "MKNM," is just the tip of Gloc-9’s current effort to make Pinoy rap a serious proposition. Previous albums have already produced tracks like “Upuan” and “Walang Natira“ that demand more than passing attention largely due to their sharp political overtones.

On his latest "Makata" album, Gloc sports a serious pose right at the cover spread. He stands alone wearing a suit and tie against the urban skyline. In interviews, he saod formal dressing is his way of uplifting the stereotype image of the Pinoy rapper as a clowning fool with an ill fashion sense.

The seriousness resounds in the music itself where no festive piece shows up unlike previous releases in which one or two “kenkoy” songs cropped up. For Gloc-9, clowntime’s over so his music veers closer to edgy rock, especially in the two tracks, “Apatnapung Bara” and “Alalay Ng Hari,” leading to the reggae-pop of “Sirena.” His more striking lyrics remain populated by aberrant characters who’re either been scammed by a faithless muse or headed inexorably to a dead end.

A new wrinkle is the appropriation of a ’60s garage rock groove in the Bamboo Mañalac-fronted “Salarin,” its attractive melody overlaying a tale of political deceit and unrest. In telling his stories for these strange times, Gloc-9 continues to show a firm resolve to stretch the boundaries of what passes for rap music.

Karl Roy
"Have a Piece of This"

Posthumously released albums are dicey affairs. Critical review usually gets trumped by traditional respect for the artists who have moved on to the great beyond.

Hardcore funkateer Karl Roy has already completed recording 80% of his latest album, “Have a Piece of This”, when he passed away early this year. From its hard funk and metallic clangor, this posthumous album finally nails everything that made Karl Roy a legend in his lifetime. Damn respect for the dead, only the devil would have harsh words for a record that truly reflects a passion for life rocked and well lived.

Naturally, the nervous energy of opening track “Pekwa” on to the prog-rock by way of Stevie Wonder of “Kosa” (with Joey Smith) and to the Juan dela Cruziad strut of “Lakbay Diwa” explore the possibilities in Karl Roy’s brand of explosive funk-punk hybrid. Not even the show-band flourish of “Limitado” could dampen a free spirit that would unleash a firestorm in such hyperkinetic numbers as “Sexy Thang” and “Heaven Falling”.

The album ends with “Puting Ilaw’ in which Karl asks, “Saan ang langit, kaibigan?”/”Saan pangakong kaligayahan?” It may be a sideways reference to the white light that the dying sees before his final breath.

Better get a piece of this and get to know better the funkiest Pinoy who ever lived.

Michael Learns to Rock
"Scandinavia"

Danish pop duo Michael Learns To Rock operates in a pop universe whose soundtrack is defined by inoffensiveness and absence of bombast. Perhaps too mellow for some people, there’s safety in MLTR’s soft music by virtue of its predictable consistency (or is it consistent predictability?). There’s comfort in a sound that reminds you of stress-free moments and restful hours.

That said, MLTR’s latest album "Scandinavia" came out after the band’s main songwriter Jascha Richter had a long spell of writer’s block. A press release even quoted him as saying “he was in search of the right MLTR sound.”

Longtime fans need not fret. The new batch of tunes from MLTR circa 2012 remains true to the duo’s back catalogue of harmony-driven, hook-filled love songs. A few creases in the well-worn fabric though: “Space Commander” bears the germ of new wave-ish Aha! while “Heaven” flies discreetly in bluesy torch song territory.

All told, “Michael” still refuses to hear the lessons of rock and in so doing, paints himself in a happy corner redolent with predictable but cool tunes for all ages. What’s not to like?