MANILA -- The Itchyworms’ fifth album, “Waiting for the End to Start,” is probably the first Filipino music album that was initially released digitally that has, out of left field, gotten the vinyl treatment.
In addition to being the most introspective album of the quartet as it was written and recorded during this COVID-19 lockdown, what makes the vinyl release just as tantalizing is the album art.
The album art, illustrated beautifully and hauntingly by Aidon Panlaqui, is already a candidate for the best album art of the year.
The cover to the record’s gatefold jacket shows 16 art squares with illustrations depicting the effects of the quarantine on our daily lives from closed down stores, to looking gaunt in the mirror, empty basketball courts, face masks, pets, and looking out windows and balconies.
Aidon’s minimalist art is jarring.
When you open the gatefold jacket, there is another set of 16 art squares that mirror the cover. Except this time, they are actual photos of musical instruments, recording gear, and personal things that the individual members of the Itchyworms went through in this lockdown from the closure of Route 196, wearing face masks, and equipment at home.
“Essentially, the art squares show everything that the band went through in this difficult time,” bared Panlaqui. “It’s very Itchyworms. They tell good stories of what they go through. And I think the songs together with the album art hit the right emotions of what everyone goes through.”
The back of the album shows the song titles on white text against the black starry space. But in keeping with the album’s grim title -- hey, there’s a flaming meteor headed God knows where.
“Even while waiting for the end, you can’t lose your sense of humor,” chuckled Panlaqui. “But in all seriousness, I am happy that the band trusts me to do the art (as he has rendered the band’s single art for some time now.”
“I think that 'WFTETS' sounds so much better on vinyl,” noted Itchyworms’ co-vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Jugs Jugueta. "I mean, I think it was made for that medium.”
The vinyl release of 'Waiting for the End to Start' is courtesy of Sony Music and Backspacer Records, an independent record seller that only recently put out their first release on vinyl, a re-release of Peryodiko’s self-titled debut.
Following Itchyworms, Backspacer Records is set to release Dong Abay Music Organization’s “Humanidad” on vinyl.
“The success of Peryodiko gave us a big boost of confidence to approach more artists and press more records,” said Backspacer Records’ Robert Tuazon. “As a young player in the industry, we are grateful to Sony Music who entrusted to us this project. ‘Waiting for the End to Start’ is best listened to on vinyl with the band’s maturity really evident and heard. We are honored to be a part of this project and to share it with music fans.”
As for the album art, Jugueta gushed about Panlaqui’s work, “I love it! It is so beautiful. We are always blown away by Aidon’s mad skills.”
“WFTETS is an experimental concept album since many of us didn’t have recording equipment at that time, but Jazz (Nicolas, the band’s co-vocalist and drummer) and Peavey Nicolas of Big Baby Studios made it sound like it was recorded in a studio. It sounds very very clean!" he added.
"The vinyl version gave it a bit more body and some dirt that the digital version does not have. But you know, analog noise is pleasant to the ears. The vinyl version gives a different character to 'WFTET.' When we sing about the end of the world, it’s much more believable when you hear it on vinyl.”
For details on how to purchase itchyworms' ‘Waiting for the End to Start’ on vinyl, go to Backspacer Records' Facebook page.